Taiko, a warrior who lived in Japan before the Tokugawa era, studied Cha-no-yu,
tea etiquette, with Sen-no Rikyu, a teacher of that aesthetical expression of
calmness and contentment.
Taiko’s attendant warrior Kato interpreted his superior’s enthusiasm for tea
etiquette as negligence of state affairs, so he decided to kill Sen-no Rikyu. He
pretended to make a social call upon the tea-master and was invited to drink
tea. The master, who was well skilled in his art, saw at a glance the warrior’s
intention, so he invited Kato to leave his sword outside before entering the
room for the ceremony, explaining that Cha-no-yu represents peacefulness itself.
Kato would not listen to this. “I am a warrior,” he said. “I always have my
sword with me. Cha-no-yu or no Cha-no-yu, I have my sword.”
“Very well. Bring your sword in and have some tea,” consented Sen-no Rikyu.
The kettle was boiling on the charcoal fire. Suddenly Sen-no Rikyu tipped it
over. Hissing steam arose, filling the room with smoke and ashes. The startled
warrior ran outside.
The tea-master apologized. “It was my mistake. Come back in and have some tea. I
have your sword here, covered with ashes and will clean it and give it to you.”
In this predicament the warrior realized he could not very well kill the
tea-master, so he gave up the idea.