The Olympics (Part 2)

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

The Olympics (Part 2)

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

As the extreme summer comes to an end and the autum breeze arrives, the layout of the tea ceremony transforms into the 'nakaoki'. It is what you might call the season of vestiges. Whether it is due to the amount of rainfall during the rainy season or the effects of the extreme heat, I have noticed that the tea flowers have blossomed differently from years past. The night bugs also seem to be singing later in the evening than usual.

At our home, the bell ringing crickets are usually already full of life they are behind schedule as well. I always keep an insect cage next to the practice hall so our students can hear them while conducting tea ceremony. A new student once asked me of the crickets ‘Is that a tape?’, to which I laughed and replied ‘I would never do something so distasteful’.

Until the London Olympics, which I touched on last week, it had been a long time since we Japanese got so passionate about something. It was of course thanks to the outstanding performances given by the Japanese athletes. When I wrote last month’s blog entry the Olympics had only just started, but as I had expected, all the athletes’ post performance comments were marvelous. The athletes were usually either ecstatic or disappointed by their performance but what stood out most was the strong feeling of gratitude for the people who supported and cheered for them which came through in what these athletes had to say and their expressions.
I felt this particularly watching the Japanese swimming team. I did not hesitate in admiring them as they honestly, plainly and quite naturally expressed their feelings of gratitude. I also felt that this was probably a result of the daily discipline, training and good manners instilled by these athletes’ coaches.

Greeting people and looking at people’s eyes when talking to them are not habits which can be learned overnight. Acquiring these habits require being conscious of doing them and applying oneself on a daily basis. There were just too many comments to mention them all but there were two which were most memorable for me. The first was a comment by the swimming athlete Irie after he got the silver medal ‘Swimming in the Olympics is like swimming a relay for the 27 athletes and it doesn’t end until the very last one of us reaches the end line.’ The other was by the athlete Murata who won a gold medal for boxing ‘What’s important isn’t this gold medal but how I live my life from this day on’.

Both of these aren’t comments one could think up easily. It was an Olympics which provided a great deal of learning; how to maintain a calm perspective of one’s self by day and how to be compassionate and grateful towards others.
P.S. The parade held in Ginza to celebrate the triumphant return of our athletes was attended by 500,000 people and was a sight to see. It was the first time for me to see anything on that scale and I felt that it represented something the Japanese people are yearning for.