“One must know that Chanoyu is simply the act of boiling water, preparing the tea, and then drinking it.”

Chanoyu pioneer Sen-no-Rikyu left us these words. A master and his invited guests share a once-in-a-lifetime meeting of hearts and minds over tea. This is the ideology behind Chanoyu, and the tea room is the stage. But what exactly is a “tea room”?

Sōryō Matsumoto, a member of art collective The TEA-ROOM, once said “(the tea room) is a deep and mysterious world, hidden and separate from the normal world.”

“Yūgen” is a concept that pervades many aspects of Japanese culture which speaks of a mysterious and subtle profundity in our human condition. People come and go through Chubu Centrair International Airport as their busy lives demand, and that is the stage where Mr. Matsumoto has chosen to express the concept of the “World of Yūgen.”

They have built a “modern tea room,” but as you can see, it is anything but simple.
It displays an imagination unbounded, one that is attuned to the extraordinary world that exists between the lines of the everyday.

The visual artworks displayed along the concourse leading to the main tea room are the gateway through the boundary between the normal world and the world of “yūgen.” At a glance, you’ll notice QR codes strewn at random, but if you stand back and look at the whole piece, images of the famous “Bamboo Grove, Leopards and Tiger sliding doors in Nagoya Castle’s Honmaru Palace rise to the forefront. In this way, the installation warns: “one must not be bound by the everyday world symbolized in the QR codes. One must seize the whole picture.”

A tea room with a minimalist black pane hanging from the ceiling was slated to exhibit at the Center Pier Garden. A low wide ceiling combined with the spacious Center Pier Garden would have offered the same intimate atmosphere you’d find in regular tea rooms in a completely new way, employing unique acoustics to create a fleeting space that is completely detached from the restless bustle of the airport. Unfortunately, due to the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus, the tea room exhibit has been canceled out of consideration for the health and safety of the airport’s patrons.

However, unless you were conscious enough of the meaning and intent of this space, you would not have even noticed it existed; you’d just pass it by. As long as the tea room’s beauty eludes you, it would ultimately amount to little more than a Japanese-style room attached to an airport hallway. Some things in life are short-lived and fade with the changing times. Whether the space would land its subtle emotional punch or not comes down to the condition of the one experiencing it.

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