Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Dear readers

KOBORI Sojitsu (the 13th Grand Master of the Enshu Sado School )

April is the season of ceremonies for company or school newcomers all over the country, and it makes us feel so refreshed. I certainly expect those who is about to make a fresh new start to do their best, and showus their best performances.

Today I would like to talk about Vancouver Olympics, which is not directly related to Sado. However I'm not writing about sports but about "fashion issue" of the Japanese snowboard athlete who faced a barrage of criticism the other day all over the media. To make my conclusion first, his fashion and his comments should not be accepted in any way, but at the same time there are still many people who are on his side. Although most people don't buy his attitude at the press conference, they don't think the fashion issue is not that big of a deal.

There are opinions on his fashion such as; he is not a full-time worker who is supposed to wear a suit to work, or his fashion shows who he is, and so on. Apart from the fashion issue, they keep asking why that is inappropriate as a representative of Japan. They keep demanding the specific reasons why that is unacceptable, how it is rude and to whom it is rude. They say that narrow-mindedness brought such criticism on him.

A lot of TV stations dealt with the issue on the night it happened. What I recall is what the former medalist of synchronized swimmer Mikako Kotani said "He needs to understand what it means to represent Japan, and the feelings of the rest of the athletes." A speed skater Okazaki said "Why don't he compete somewhere besides Olympics?" What do all these comments try to tell us? These words might have come from athletes' pride and self-confidence.

In my lectures when I deal with a topic such as moderation and decency, I usually talk about the rim of Tatami mattress. I often tell a story that very few houses have Tamami rooms today but in the past we used to say "Do not step on the rim of Tamami" all the time. There is not even room for discussion such as "why not"? In other words, we do not need a reason. I believe this old time instruction leads to moderation, decency, sense of respect for something intangible, and sense of caring for people.

What he said after coming back to Japan is "I'm glad that I could do things in my way," but it certainly is an unacceptable comment in public. After a Yokozuna, grand champion of Sumo, retired from his profession recently, the fact of firing him struck many people in congruous. This is deplorable and regrettable since it is based on "result first" theory and the respect on only individual. This is similar to the concepts such as "I don't care someone else's business" or "It's ok as long as I'm strong, or as long as I make good results."

Yokozuna, soon after the announcement of retirement but not yet completely retired, is not supposed to play around without a topknot but with a pony tail. What typical about their behavior is to end up bragging they keep their own way but actually they are incapable of respecting their role in society.