The Japanese way of tea (chanoyu), known in the West as the tea ceremony, is based on the simple act of enjoying a bowl of tea, accompanied by an appreciation of nature and the four seasons. Chanoyu aspires to celebrate the commonalities existing between different aesthetics and to search for a universal transcendental experience through participation in the ritual of tea. The New Way of Tea brings this quest into the twenty-first century by juxtaposing tearooms and tea utensils created by contemporary Japanese architects, artists, and designers with those from other Asian cultures and the West who have been likewise inspired by the aesthetic and philosophy of chanoyu.
This exhibition is presented concurrently at Japan Society and Asia Society in New York City. Part I at the Japan Society explores the art of the traditional tea ceremony through a teahouse and implements. Part II at the Asia Society and Museum features nontraditional avant-garde tearooms and utensils by contemporary architects, designers and artists such as Jae Eun Choi, Wenda Gu, Atsushi Kitagawara, Takashi Sugimoto and Ikko Tanaka. A fusuma-e (painting for a sliding door) by Hiroshi Senju and tea instruments selected by the renowned tea master Masakazu Izumi are also exhibited.
The New Yorker said, "After a trip through this exquisitely installed show, it's easy to see the wisdom in the proverb, Better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one." The New York Times praised the exhibition as "an aesthetic delight." The Asian Art Newspaper said the exhibition is "so enormous and so absolutely complete..." and an online outlet from New York's Resident publications advised, "Don't rush through any part of this exhibit; like the tea ceremony itself, it asks participants to relax and look deep within yourself. Forget about the cell phone and your plans later that day...."