"Morning to night, I drink countless cups of matcha," said Tamesaburo Furukawa, a leader in the Nagoya business community. Imagine modern business people today enjoying Chanoyu in the mansion where Tamesaburo lived.
Chanoyu started off as a pastime enjoyed among samurai, but it quickly spread to the Nagoya townspeople during the Edo period and its subsequent stability. Sometimes their enthusiasm would lead to trouble with the Bakufu regime. But really it was the wealthy merchants who played the most important role in spreading the tradition of Chanoyu by inviting tea masters from Kyoto and holding tea ceremonies. There is a theory that these tea traditions are actually the origin of the coffee shop culture in Nagoya today.
Emerging businessmen in the Meiji era who were interested in tea ceremonies held the special title of "Sukisha." Some famous Sukisha were Takashi Masuda, founder of Mitsui & Co., and Konosuke Matsushita of Panasonic, among others. These days, we hear about the rich investing in art or space developments, but before that, the thing to invest in was Chanoyu. The Sukisha bought the tea utensils, art pieces, and buildings with tea rooms that used to belong to the former daimyo and samurai, who had lost their power during the Meiji era as the businessmen started to gain theirs. They did this as an act of respect to the art of Chanoyu, and to prevent these items from being destroyed or sold overseas. This is also why many tea houses were relocated.
Tamesaburo Furukawa, the founder of the Furukawa Art Museum, was a prominent figure in Nagoya's business community who started his own business as a young man and was the leader of the Herald Group. He had the custom of having matcha every day in his mansion. His mansion was designed to hold tea ceremonies in every room, from the guest rooms facing the beautiful gardens of “Hisago no Ma” and “Oogiri no Ma”, the smaller rooms of “Aoi no Ma” and “Taroan”, and the room in the garden, “Chisoku-an.” All of which were equally ornate and elaborate.
The tea room is said to be a "space of spiritual grace secluded from the outside world," and the most impressive spot among those we have introduced is the Furukawa Museum's annex, Tamesaburo Memorial Museum. To get here, head towards the main street. Despite the high-rise buildings around you, as soon as you enter the museum grounds, you’ll suddenly be surrounded by a feeling of deep silence and peace.
In this mansion, you can enjoy a cup of tea while looking out at the garden. After enjoying Tamesaburo's art collection in the main building, you can enjoy tea while basking in the sunlight peeking through the leaves and taking in the sounds of the trees swaying in the wind. What a simple and luxurious way to spend an afternoon! Especially for those of us who are absorbed in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we need a space like this sometimes to get away from it all.