From the end of the 8th century A.D., Japan was heavily influenced by Chinese philosophy, religion, system of government, culture, and art. Buddhist monks travelled back and forth between the two countries to gain knowledge and understanding and to acquire religious manuscripts, ceramics, paintings, and sculptures. Of course, they also learned about tea. Some historians say that tea was first drunk in Japan when Emperor Shomu served tea to a hundred priests at a religious gathering in A.D. 729. Others believe that it was in the early 9th century A.D. that the monks Saicho, Kukai, and Eichu brought tea back from China. When Kukai returned home, he told Emperor Saga that while in China, he had studied chanoyu (hot water for tea). The tea introduced by the monks was compressed cake tea, prepared for drinking by being pounded to a powder, sieved, whisked into hot water, and served with salt. In A.D. 814, the tea-loving Emperor Saga wrote, “The whisper of the pines cools the day’s heat. One never tires of writing poetry and the pleasing fragrance of pounding tea.” Saga is said to have ordered the cultivation of tea, but the beverage did not become popular at this time and was drunk only as a medicinal brew.