Nanbokuchō (1333–1392) and Muromachi period (1392–1573)
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Teahouse at the Asian Art Museum
The Japanese tearoom is specifically built for the tea ceremony, a vibrant living practice. This handcrafted structure creates a rustic environment for tea, and is a work of art in itself. The tearoom at the Asian Art Museum was designed to fit into the gallery space, and is fully functional. It has an electric burner to heat water for tea, and a kitchen, or "mizuya," with running fresh water. The lighting coming through the windows is timed to simulate natural light. There is a morning, afternoon, and evening setting. The alcove, or "tokonoma," is a special area for the display of objects, selected to set the theme and stimulate conversation in the tea gathering. A calligraphy scroll, flowers, and incense container are among the items that might be placed here. The tearoom was constructed at Nakamura Sotoji in Kyoto. Mr. Nakamura's workshop was chosen for its renown for making high quality, traditional Japanese buildings, and because of its stock of beautiful and rare woods collected over generations. A variety of woods are used in the tearoom: cedar, cypress, pine, bamboo, and camellia. This wood is carefully selected and then weathered and dried over a period of time. Tearoom artisans are trained in a Kyoto carpentry tradition called "teahouse-style building." In keeping with tradition, the museum's tearoom was built using handcrafted joinery techniques. The architect Osamu Sato and four highly specialized artisans came from Japan in September of 2002. They spent two weeks in San Francisco assembling the tearoom, which had been shipped in pieces from Kyoto. Once in the U.S., some pieces were cut to fit to account for the wood shrinking or expanding during transit. The three layers and final coat of wall plastering were also applied here. The installation of the tatami mat flooring provided the finishing touch. The Asian Art Museum's tearoom, used both for the display of objects and tea gatherings, provides a living environment where one may experience tea and study its related arts.