Replica of the Saan Teahouse at Daitokuji Gyokurin-in, Kyoto, 2001 (constructed)

Japan's ruling warrior elite first held lavish tea gatherings in their formal reception halls. As tea masters like Murata Shukō (1422-1502), Takeno Jōō (1502-1555) and Sen Rikyū (1520-1591) began to advocate the practice of wabi (rustic) tea in the 16th century, separate, specially designed teahouses began to be built. Shukō introduced an architectural style called sōan, literally "grass hut." Sōan teahouses were small and constructed from humble materials including roughly milled lumber, bamboo, thatch, and earthen walls. In its simplicity, soan teahouses were meant to suggest a monk's retreat in the wilderness. The low entranceway required all participants to humble themselves as they entered the tearoom from the garden. Although a built-in alcove for the display of art was adopted from more formal structures, its size was greatly reduced--sufficient only to display a small painting or simple floral arrangement.

The museum's teahouse is based on the Sa-an, an 18th century teahouse within the Zen monastery of Daitokuji in Kyoto that is now designated as one of Japan's "Important Cultural Properties." A small, carved signboard under the eaves of the museum's teahouse reads "Zenshin-an," Hermitage of the Meditative Heart -- a name bestowed on the structure by Fukushima Keidō, the current abbot of Tofukuji temple in Kyoto.



Zenshin-an Teahouse (#164)
Replica of the Saan Teahouse at Daitokuji Gyokurin-in, Kyoto
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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