Seeing the Tea Houses Up Close: Hito-tei

Hito-tei Tea HouseA recap of the Tea House Tour process:

It is possible to make an appointment to see Ryokaku-tei and Hito-tei up close, but the requirements for a reservation are strictly enforced. Groups of 5 people or more may make a reservation and  the cost of this special tour is ¥1,000 per person. Guests living in Japan are usually asked to make a reservation by way of a reply-paid postcard (往復はがき), but guests from out of the country may express interest in making a reservation via e-mail. If you require a foreign-language tour, we ask that you allow some flexibility in the scheduling of your visit so that we can find a day when one of our foreign staff members will be able to assist you. Due to the necessity of this type of preparation, we ask that you contact us at least a month in advanced so that we can make sure everything is scheduled appropriately.

Disclaimer: Guests are not permitted to take pictures during the tour! The photos here are a special exception.

Here are the photos of Hito-tei I promised!

You can see Hito-tei as you enjoy the view of the North Garden from Shinden, and it is even more beautiful up close!

Hito-tei Tea House

The round window and shelf for hanging katana outside before entering the tea room. This window is designed so that when katana are placed horizontally on the shelf, it looks as though clouds are floating over the moon from the inside of the room.Hito-tei Tea House

I thought the use of a gently curving branch as-is for a support was particularly beautiful.

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Hito-tei Tea House

Hito-tei Tea House

Hito-tei was constructed during the Kansei Era (1789 – 1801), and is the oldest building in Goten at over 200 years old. The tea house underwent some repairs after the Hanshin Earthquake in 1995, but, unlike other structures in Goten, it has never needed to be rebuilt. The main room within Hito-tei is 4.5 tatami mats large (7.29m² or 23.9ft²) and the interior walls are finished with a thrown straw technique. The building is covered by a gently curved grass-thatched roof.

Hito-tei was a tea house frequented by members of the imperial family and was a favorite of Emperor Kokaku, the great-grandfather of Emperor Meiji. Tea houses normally have low entrances which require all guests to bow their heads as they enter the ceremony room, but Hito-tei is remarkable because it lacks this common feature. Due to the royal status of Hito-tei’s patrons, the entrance into the tea room is a “nobleman’s entrance,” a doorway tall enough to walk through without bow one’s head.

North Garden

Seeing the Tea Houses Up Close: Ryokaku-tei

Ryokaku-tei Tea HouseIt is possible to make an appointment to see Ryokaku-tei and Hito-tei up close, but the requirements for a reservation are strictly enforced. Groups of 5 people or more may make a reservation, and  the cost of this special tour is ¥1,000 per person. Guests living in Japan are usually asked to make a reservation by way of a reply-paid postcard (往復はがき), but guests from out of the country may express interest in making a reservation via e-mail. If you require a foreign-language tour, we ask that you allow some flexibility in the scheduling of your visit so that we can find a day when one of our foreign staff members will be able to assist you. Due to the necessity of this type of preparation, we ask that you contact us at least a month in advanced so that we can make sure everything is scheduled appropriately.

I recently went to see the tea houses with some of the other staff members here at the temple and was able to take some pictures to show you! Visitors to the temple may take photos of the tea houses from afar, however, please understand that taking photographs is not permitted during the tour of the tea houses. The pictures I have for you today are a special case, if you were to visit the temple and see the tea houses yourself, you would not be allowed to take photos.

I will be updating with some photos of Hito-tei soon!

Ryokaku-tei Tea HouseRyokaku-tei has a lovely water feature around the back.
Ryokaku-tei Tea House

The inside of Ryokaku-tei, this room is where the tea ceremony would be performed.