Chashitsu (tea room or tea house) is a place where people and nature come into contact. Even in the city, there is basically a garden called Roji attached to chashitsu. Rather, because it is an urban area. In the countryside, places with abundant nature are preferred for the location of chashitsu.
Chashitsu has an inseparable relationship that cannot be talked about without nature. It can be likened to the relationship between a baby and a mother.
Newborns are said to make no distinction between themselves and their mothers. They recognise their mothers are inseparable parts of themselves. Of course, in the mothers’ bodies, they are firmly connected by the umbilical cord, depend on their mothers and receive oxygen and nutrition, and at the same time, they feel their mothers’ movement while swimming in the amniotic fluid and listen to their mothers’ voice.
Isn’t the existence of chashitsu for humans like a womb for a fetus? It is connected to an infinite space while very narrow and you have to bend your limbs. Babies feel their mothers as their own in the wombs. For a fetus, the mother is all and nature itself. They interact with everything through their mothers’ bodies.
After birth, babies have the ability to drink milk without being taught by anyone. For babies, it is an experience to connect with their mothers who were once separated, which is exactly the instinct.
Crying babies may get in a good mood when mothers breastfeed. It doesn’t necessarily mean that their hunger is satisfied. Babies often fall asleep while drinking breast milk. Babies feel psychologically safe by becoming united with their mothers.
The act of crawling through a narrow nijiriguchi and entering a small chashitsu is like an experience going back to the birth canal and returning to the womb, and it tickles a human’s homing instinct.
Return to the womb by human
Shinden-zukuri is a traditional architectural style unique to Japan. It was established during the Heian period, and it does not have many walls even for large temples. Depending on the situation, it may be partitioned off with screens such as kichou (curtains), misu (bamboo blinds), kabeshiro (white curtains), or byoubu (folding screens), but it is characterised by its open space, which is generally large rooms that are highly sociable and can accommodate large gatherings. It was designed to allow for good ventilation in consideration of Japan’s humid climate.
The Shinden-zukuri style later developed into the Shoin-zukuri style from the Muromachi period to the Momoyama period, and became the prototype of today’s Japanese houses.
In the Japanese-style houses we live in today, we can create flexibility by removing fusuma (sliding doors), shouji (paper screens), byoubu (folding screens), etc. to partition or expand the space depending on the situation. While this creates a sense of community among families and the people living in the building, it does not provide much privacy. It is simply partitioned off with a removable stuff, allowing air to flow back and forth throughranma (transoms) at the top, and sound to flow through the space.
On the other hand, chashitsu (tea room or tea house) is a very small and closed space with not many windows. It’s truly a womb-like environment.
It is interesting that the Japanese, who lived in open architecture, created the chashitsu of Souan, which can be called the opposite architecture. This may be the embodiment of a human being’s desire to return to the womb after being born into the world. (What is the chashitsu of Souan?)
Isn’t it based on instinct that people seek chashitsu? Chashitsu can be said to be a collection of Japanese culture, built by accumulating the wisdom of our predecessors. However, it’s not just a world of logic, it also evokes the primitive instincts inherent in humans.
People enter chashitsu and feel the infinite natural space. Otherwise, it cannot be called chashitsu. The reason why people are soothed in chashitsu may be because there is something in common with the formative experience that everyone has. Rather, it is no exaggeration to say that chashitsu reproduces human formative experience.
Author: Takuya Nagata. Amazon ProfileFollow @nagatackle
Novel writer, Creator. Graduated from UCA, the UK’s university. Discussed Japanese minimalism in the senior thesis. Founder of “MINIЯISM” (minirism), the art movement that contributes to the development of societies, such as ecology and lifestyle. Covered various fields as a writer in different parts of Europe, and later launched the knowledge hub “The Minimalist.”
Once travelled to Brazil and trained football at CFZ do Rio (Centro de Futebol Zico Sociedade Esportiva) in Rio de Janeiro. Played soccer for the Urawa Reds (Urawa Red Diamonds), one of the biggest football clubs in Japan, and toured Europe. Retired at a young age and voyaged alone to England. Established careers as journalist, football coach, consultant, etc. across Europe such as Spain. Knowledgeable in creative and technology fields as well. The founder of “Propulsive Football” (PROBALL), the world’s first-ever competitive mixed football, facilitating diversity and spirit for equal participation in society.