Tea Ceremony as a Space for Interreligious Dialogue

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This paper explores the potential of Japanese tea ceremony to be an aesthetic space for inter-religious dialogue. Through a study of historical encounters that took place between European Jesuit missionaries and Japanese tea masters in the late 16th century, this paper elucidates the missionaries’ experiences of tea ceremonies and discusses the validity and limitation of a tea house as a space for cross-cultural and interreligious dialogue. The fruit of tea ceremony in terms of interreligious dialogue includes a shared sense of aesthetic communion that is attained through communal enjoyment of the beauty of nature and drinking a cup of tea in an isolated tea house, where guests are invited to cast away worries of everyday business, as well as their social and religious differences; whereas its limitation pertains to marked indifference toward verbal communication that is characteristic to the way of tea, and thus the historical missionaries’ experience was limited to aesthetic paradigm and did not lead to logical understanding of doctrinal differences between Buddhists and Christians.

Tea Ceremony as a Space for Interreligious Dialogue

in Exchange




Satoru Obara‘The Christian Mind in 16th and 17th-century Japan’ in St. Francis Xavier: An Apostle of the Eastvolume 2 Tokyo: Sophia University Press 2000 99-100. Also see Nishimura 101.


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