Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

A certain girl

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

From September 9th to 16th, I visited Vienna in Austria and Bratislava in Slovakia for cultivating cultural exchange via Chanoyu. Along with thirty participants from Japan, I can say that each tea ceremony had a tremendous success and great achievement.

The year falls on “Austria-Japan Year 2009”, albeit less-famously. For this time, Ambassador Tanaka who had been assigned to Austria previous year, requested me to conduct tea ceremonies. In Bratislava, too, the tea ceremony was held at the Japanese Ambassador’s residence with a warm welcome of Ambassador Nomoto and Madam. Our delegation served teas to Slovak cultural figures as well as diplomats.

Back in Vienna, there were two places for our tea ceremony: Setagaya Park and the Museum of Ethnologies in Vienna. Setagaya Park was donated by Setagaya ward of Tokyo to the 19th ward of Vienna because of their sister-city affiliation.

We turned out to serve teas to a total of over 300 people. I guess in general that they tend to have a lot of questions related to post-ceremony. Such as my lecture abroad, it is so often that it ends up to spend much more time for Q&A than actual tea ceremony.

Over there, I have had the most significant incident. After having completed the first session of ceremony, I went away from the venue and enjoy strolling around the Park. This event fell on Saturday so that I saw a lot of citizens visiting this park, which, I know, has been taken root as a place to relax. A monitor was set up in the park and a video on what I serve tea to others was repeatedly projected because we could not provide tea to all.

I looked across at my procedures for making tea and I happened to notice that Ambassador Tanaka was approaching to the monitor. I assumed that he might check what I proceeded to serve tea, because he himself also learned Chanoyu directly from the Grand Master. In time, I found a girl of less than 10 years-old standing in front of the monitor, and then she became as still as a statue and seated over there. She seemed to get caught up in something and continuously looked at the video. While observing the situation from a distance, I had to go back the venue for the second session. During the session, I realized that Ambassador Tanaka invited that girl sitting in front of the monitor to the session and had her directly observe my procedures to serve tea.

When the ceremony was over, I was honored to be addressed by Ambassador Tanaka. He said, “Today, I believe that the girl has captured something significant in her life, because I know that Chanoyu has such a power to make it happen.” It was indeed an honor for me to have his flattering remarks, which was even more than I deserved.