The Inspiration for Ryokaku-tei

Ryokaku-tei Tea House

Ninna-ji has two tea houses, Hito-tei, which sits on manmade hill beyond the pond in the North Garden, and Ryokaku-tei which is surrounded by trees behind Remeiden. In winter when the trees have lost their leaves it will be much easier to see Ryokaku-tei than is it now, but if you peer between the tree branches from Remeiden, you should be able to catch a glimpse of it.

Ryokaku-tei was originally the residence of the painter Ogata Korin (1658-1716) and was moved to Ninna-ji during the Tempo Era (1830-1844). When Ryokaku-tei was built, it was designed to resemble a famous tea house called Joan (joe-ahn). Joan was built in Kyoto in 1618 by Oda Uraku, tea master and the younger brother of the infamous Oda Nobunaga. The tea house was moved from Kyoto in the late Meiji period and came to its present location in Inuyama City, Aichi Prefecture in the 1970s. You can see a couple of pictures of Joan here. The buildings are really quite similar, but you know what they say — imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Advertisements

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.

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.