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【Culture】The golden tea room was portable to practice gorgeous tea ceremonies anywhere2015.07.29

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Everything from the walls, pillars, ceiling to tea utensils was covered with gold leaf.

The golden tea room was built in 1585 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the feudal warlord who completed the unification of Japan in the late 16th century. The chamber was portable as it could be disassembled. The ruler known for his great interest in tea ceremonies used the room to show off his power and wealth. He moved the room to the Imperial Palace and Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine, both in Kyoto, to hold tea ceremonies for the emperor, nobles, tea masters and commoners.

The three-tatami-mat room was burned down by the fire that destroyed Osaka Castle in 1615, when the Toyotomi family was ruined. However, several replicas have been made to restore its beauty. One of the best replicas is exhibited at MOA Museum of Art in Atami city, Shizuoka prefecture. The museum occasionally displays the golden room at different locations as it is also mobile.

It remains a mystery whether Sen no Rikyu, the Japanese tea master, was involved with the creation of the lavish room. Rikyu is known as a person who helped establishing the Japanese aesthetic sense of quiet simplicity and subdued refinement. Although the golden luxury may seem to go against his concept, many believe he was behind the construction of the room, given the close relationship between the two influential figures at the time.

Its replicas are also held by Osaka Castle in Osaka city and Fushimi Castle in Kyoto city among others. Both of the castles were originally built by Hideyoshi and reconstructed after being destroyed by fires.

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