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JAPAN 317 A: Chanoyu, The Japanese Culture of Tea

Meeting Time: 
W 3:30pm - 5:20pm
THO 202
Douglas Bacon

Syllabus Description:

JAPAN 317: Chanoyu, The Japanese Culture of Tea

University of Washington, Seattle

Autumn 2019 

Times and places

Lecture         Wednesdays, 3:30-5:20 p.m., Thomson 202

Studio            Fridays, 3:00-5:40 p.m., Seattle Go Center, 700 NE 45th Street, Seattle 98105


Lecture          Douglas M. Bacon


Office             Conference room, 2nd floor mezzanine, Gowen Hall

Office.            Wednesdays, 2:30 p.m., by appointment

Telephone   Bacon: (425) 747-4970

Studios          Bonnie M. Mitchell

                           assisted by Heather Candelaria, Sachiko Levy and Kazumi Ohara

Telephone   Mitchell: (206) 328-6018


Office            Fridays, 5:45 p.m., Seattle Go Center, by appointment 

Course Description

JAPAN 317 traces the evolution of tea drinking in Japan from a monastic ritual introduced from China, to an amusement for the samurai class, and finally to its culmination as an aesthetic and ethical discipline that has influenced various material and cultural arts through the ‘wabi’ ideal of beauty. Studio sessions explore patterns of movement and behavior for guest and host and the aesthetics of setting and tea utensils, with the goal of developing deeper understanding and appreciation of Japanese art and culture.


Lecture: Weekly lectures cover the philosophical underpinnings of chanoyu (tea ceremony), the history of tea culture in Japan, general Japanese aesthetics, and those specific to chanoyu that have influenced developments in tea architecture, garden design, arts and crafts. Lectures are supported with readings, PowerPoint presentations, and videos. Anything covered in the lectures and audio-visual material may appear on the midterms and final exam.

Note: Some lectures will extend over more than one class meeting

Studio: The weekly three-hour studio will present activities related to chanoyu, popularly called the “tea ceremony.” It will be taught in Japanese or English for the benefit of Japanese language students. Students will learn to navigate the tea house, formally prepare, serve and receive whipped powdered green tea, master the basic Bonryaku tea procedure, and develop an appreciation of calligraphy, ceramics, lacquer ware, textiles and other Japanese craft traditions, through hands-on experience.

Note: Tea utensils are on reserve in the East Asian library for practice outside of studio


Friday, Oct 11, 3:30-5:15 p.m., Seattle Japanese Garden

Extra credit (lecture section)

Attend a SAM Chanoyu Demonstration on Thursday, October 17 or Thursday, November 21, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Admittance to SAM is free to attend the tea demonstration. If you plan to attend, please confirm with your instructor in advance. You must complete a questionnaire to get extra credit. 2 credits


Midterms will be given Week 5 and Week 9, depending on progress

Final Lecture Examination

Thursday, December 12, 6:30—8:20 pm, Thomson 202

Do not make any travel plans that will require you to leave the area before the examination.

Final Studio Examination Studio

Friday, December 13, 1:00-6:10pm, SGO


Two lecture midterms 25%

Final lecture exam 17%

Weekly lecture reading notes 8%

Final studio group presentation 40%; Weekly homework 10% 

Important Dates

W Sep 25:            First lecture meeting

F Sep 27:               First studio meeting

F Oct 11:               Seattle Japanese Garden Tour, 3:30-5:15 p.m.

W Oct 23:             Midterm exam #1                                                                                            

W Nov 20:            Midterm exam #2 (subject to change depending on progress)

TH Dec 12:           Lecture Final exam 

F Dec 13:               Studio Final exam (Seattle Go Center)


  • Attendance is mandatory but is not part of your grade. You need not contact the instructors unless you have missed a quiz, examination, or section. Attendance is a necessary factor in your grade for performance in studios.
  • Regarding conduct in class, the principal rule is to avoid distracting the instructor or your fellow students. Arrive on time and avoid leaving early. Turn off your cell phone. Don’t text or surf the web during class. Don’t eat in class. (Drinking is ok.) Those who engage in distracting or disruptive behavior will be asked publicly to stop.
  • Those who persist may be barred from attending class. Cheating on quizzes or examinations is a serious offense. Violations will be adjudicated under University codes of conduct, which stipulate sanctions up to and including expulsion.If you wish to request a make-up examination, please see lecturer. All requests must be in writing (a message from your email address is acceptable) and some form of documentary evidence. “A student absent from any examination through sickness or other cause, judged by the instructor to be unavoidable, shall be given an opportunity to take a rescheduled examination or perform work judged by the instructor to be the equivalent.Grade appeals If the error is arithmetical, it will be corrected immediately. (We keep copies of all graded materials and can handle this by email or in person.) After meeting with me, if you still believe you are being treated unfairly, you have the right of appeal to the Divisional Dean for the Humanities of the College of Arts and Sciences, Professor Michael Shapiro. His email is and his telephone number is (206) 685-9969. Extra help and office hours Disability accommodations For graduate students in Asian Languages & Literature onlySnow policy/class cancellations Recording policy
  • Anyone who wishes to record the lectures must first complete and sign a request for permission. Please see lecturer for the form. The conditions are: (1) no recording video; (2) no recording studio meetings; (3) recordings may not be disseminated to anyone, even other members of the class; (4) recordings must be erased by the end of the quarter; (5) every effort must be made to avoid recording private conversations, and such recordings made accidentally.
  • The University’s Seattle campus never closes, but classes may be cancelled due to heavy snow or other contingency. Such cancellations may be centrally ordered or done at the discretion of the instructor. During periods of especially inclement weather or other emergency situations, access the UW web site, check your email frequently, or contact us by email if you are uncertain whether class will be held.
  • Department policy states that graduate students in Asian Languages & Literature are not permitted to register for this course on an S/NS (satisfactory/not satisfactory) basis. They must take it for a numerical grade. Students who violate this policy jeopardize their academic status. If you are a graduate student in Asian Languages and Literature and you are taking this course for credit (not auditing), you must elect 4.0 grading! 
  • If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact the Disabled Resources for Students Office (DRSO), 448 Schmitz, 206- 543-8924 (Voice), 206-543-8925 (TTY). If you already have a letter from DRSO stating that you have a disability, please deliver a copy to me as soon as possible so that the appropriate accommodations can be made for you. 
  • Please see us during office hours for any reason. We are happy to provide advice and guidance. We want you to succeed in this class. If you have to attend class or work during our office hours, please e-mail us for an appointment.
  • University policy states that final grades for the term may not be changed, except in case of a clerical error.
  • If you feel that your performance has been underestimated, please see the instructor during office hours (as appropriate) to express your views and I will explain the process by which I evaluated your work. If I believe I have made an error, I will correct it. If you and I simply have a slight difference of opinion on a grade, my opinion prevails. 
  • Every feasible effort is made to ensure that the grades assigned to your performance are fair, impartial, and carefully considered. Nonetheless, occasionally errors do occur. 
  • “If the instructor determines that neither alternative is feasible during the current quarter, the instructor may exempt the student from the requirement. Examples of unavoidable cause include death or serious illness in the immediate family, illness of the student, and, provided previous notification is given, observance of regularly scheduled religious obligations, and might possibly include attendance at academic conferences or field trips, or participation in university sponsored activities such as debating contests or athletic competition.”
  • Here is the official University policy on make-up examinations, as posted on the Registrar’s website (italics added):
  • Make-ups
  • Cheating and plagiarism
Catalog Description: 
This class traces the evolution of tea drinking in Japan from a monastic ritual introduced from China to an amusement for the samurai class and thence to its culmination as an aesthetic and ethical discipline that has greatly influenced various forms of cultural production through the "wabi" ideal of beauty and the spirit of Zen. Prerequisite: any 100-level, 200-level, 300-level, or 400-level JAPAN course (any of which may be taken concurrently). Offered: ASpS.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:40pm