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Tea Seller
BooksellerStreet VendorGuardMonkRoninSamurai WomanTeaseller


Tea was brought to Japan from China by a returning Buddhist priest who had witnessed its meditative values. Soon a favorite of the Japanese nobility, tea drinking soon spread from the court and monasteries to all levels of Japanese society. Along the Tokaido Road's many government posts, tea shops served travelers' needs much like highway rest stops today.

Most districts in the cities had an area of small restaurants and food stalls known as "chaya." Some of these vendors served only tea, treating their customers to a simplified version of the tea ceremony, while others were more like restaurants.

During the Edo era, Japanese often ate their meals at tea shops or other restaurants, since their homes were cramped with little cooking space. Also, because of the humid climate, food spoiled quite easily and couldn't be stored for more than a day or two.

Top: Tea Seller/Shunji Jonoshita

On the Tokaido Road
View scenes from the Tokaido Road

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