Photo credit: cavecouple
I have always admired and appreciated the styles of the Far East. Room designs are always simple and elegant with clean, crisp lines, never any clutter in sight – they just whisper calm, peace, relaxation.
The Japanese tea room is a good example of what I’m talking about. Tea rooms were originally teahouses, dating back to the 1400 and 1500s. When an interest in tea rose in Japan, the people started building tea rooms as separate structures from their homes. The structures were bamboo and wood huts with thatched roofs built in garden settings. The teahouses and the tea ceremonies witnessed there were designed to give people a respite from the material world and earthly concerns. For that reason, the interiors are decorated as simply as possible with little show of material wealth or status, no bright colors or distracting items. The rooms were, and continue to be, light, simple, and airy with views of nothing but serenity and the surrounding gardens.
The Japanese tea room is more than just a place for drinking tea. While it may have started as a place to entertain guests, drink tea, and escape the binds of social class in ancient Japan, today it also serves as a sanctuary. It’s a calm, peaceful place where you can escape the pressures of today’s issues, meditate, practice yoga, be alone with your thoughts, or draw artistic inspiration.
Photo credit: Japan Green Tea
Bamboo or rice straw mats line the floors of the Japanese tea room and the counters and tables are all only as tall as one can reach while sitting on the floor. The room itself is very fragile (a metaphor for life?) and the numerous windows contain no glass, but paper instead.
I think in modern America, these delicate rooms wouldn’t stand a chance – I know they’d never survive my boys, but the idea of having a garden-centered sanctuary where you can find peace, God, inspiration, or a quiet conversation with a friend is immensely appealing.
I liken it to an adult tree house. Not only is a tea room totally green in concept (with all natural materials, simplicity of design, and small enough to not waste any space), it could add much value to our cluttered, stressed out, material-idolizing American lives.
And who knows, maybe spending time in Japanese tea rooms escaping the stresses of our lives will spill into the rest of our rooms.