Samurai and Tea

Samurai and Tea
10 records
The samurai class was the highest of the four hereditary classes in Japan during the Edo period. The word samurai, which means “servant,” strictly applies only to retainers but customarily refers to the entire warrior class. All members of this class served the shogun (military leader of the government), either directly or indirectly. Beneath the shogun were the fief lords (daimyo), who controlled territories. The samurai served the daimyo and received both income and protection from them. Masterless samurai, called ronin, were not bound to a daimyo. They were free from the obligations of service, but at the same time lost their income. Some ronin lived relatively peaceful lives as farmers or monks, while others chose more precarious paths as mercenaries or bandits.

Samurai, as members of the highest class, were expected to set an example for the rest of the population by leading dignified lives. As such, they were not officially allowed to participate in the pleasure activities of the townsfolk, such as going to the theater and visiting brothels. Many samurai studied tea ceremony, a highly ritualized practice of preparing and drinking tea. Some of the implements used in performing a tea ceremony include a kettle, water container, tea bowl, whisk, scoop, and tea container.

- Armanda Dingledy-Rodie; Chris Drosse; Hollis Goodall, Managing Curator (2007)