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Tea Ceremony in Medieval Japan: Its Origins and Embodiment of the Senses

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Tea Ceremony in Medieval Japan: Its Origins and Embodiment of the Senses


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While the ancient capital of Kyoto was stricken by plague and civil war, the 8th Shogun Yoshimasa Ashikaga (1436-1490) was preoccupied with the construction of a retirement estate (Higashiyama-dono) in the Eastern hills, comprising of an extensive garden, a three-storied pavilion (Jishou-ji aka Ginkaku-ji Silver Pavilion,1490), a worship hall (Tougudou, 1486), and tea room (Doujinsai, 1486). Yet, with the assistance of companions (doboshu) and monks (ji), the interior of Doujinsai in particular became a venue for placement (shouin kazari) of Chinese (karamono) utensils and tea wares. The lecture will investigate how the spatial composition and use of objects in the Doujinsai lended to developing aesthetic concepts, including the pathos of things (mono no aware), pregnant pause (ma), and the mystery of beauty (yugen no bi).  Examples will also be shown as to how both guest and host access these aesthetic experiences via the five senses, and how a simple cup of tea (kissako) can help facilitate even the lay person into experiencing the present moment.

Anne Alene is an independent scholar in art history, and has been leading travel programs to Japan for independent travelers, small parties, major museum institutions, and arts organizations since 1997.  She is currently doing doctoral coursework at Claremont Graduate University in Cultural & Museum Studies, and investigating how site-specific art and architecture plays a role in memorializing trauma/disaster, as a pilgrimage destination, and in revitalization of local regions.


Please note, this session will be held virtually via Zoom. The virtual event begins at 1:00 p.m. PT.

Please register by clicking on this link. All participants will be sent the Zoom link via confirmation email with instructions once registration is complete.

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Sponsored by the Asian Arts Council.

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September 24, 2020
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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