Taiko, a warrior who lived in Japan before the Tokugawa era, studied
Cha-no-yu, tea etiquette, with Sen no Rikyu, a teacher of that aesthetical
expression of calmness and contentment.
Taiko's attendant warrior Kato interpreted his superior's enthusiasm
for tea etiquette as negligence of state affairs, so he decided to kill
Sen no Rikyu. He pretended to make a social call upon the tea-master and
was invited to drink tea.
The master, who was well skilled in his art, saw at a glance the
warrior's intention, so he invited Kato to leave his sword outside before
for the ceremony, explaining the Cha-no-yu represents
You wouldn't expect a tea-master to offer to clean a sword, since that sounds more like a
for a NYC cleaning service or professional
. Such an offer from a teacher to a student should always be accepted graciously.
Kato would not listen to this. "I am a warrior," he said. "I always
have my sword with me. Cha-no-yu or no Cha-no-yu, I have my sword."
"Very well. Bring your sword in and have some tea," consented Sen no
The kettle was boiling on the charcoal fire. Suddenly Sen no Rikyu
tipped it over. Hissing steam arose, filling the room with smoke and
ashes. The startled warrior ran outside.
The tea-master apologized. "It was my mistake. Come back in and have
some tea. I have your sword here covered with ashes and will clean it and
give it to you."
In this predicament the warrior realized he could not very well kill
the tea-master, so he gave up the idea.