Time[Dec 2013]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Time[Dec 2013]

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

I think many readers have the same feeling that time passes especially fast in December. It is the same number of days as any other month yet we sense it differently from hour hand on a clock. It is strange and interesting.

Let's take ten seconds for example. It is an instant in a Olympic game of track and fields but if I didn't say a word for ten seconds during my speech, there would be quite a long silence and there would be murmuring in the audience.

As for 100 meters swimming, it is nothing special to finish under one minute and it only appears to be an instant to those of us who are cheering the swimmers. It is a moment when we all swing between hope and despair as to whether a Japanese swimmer finishes first or not.

However, if we meditate for one minute, it seems like a long time to us. So it could be said that most of the time, time is subject to human perception and not absolute.

So when the yearend comes, it depends on the person whether the year was long or short. It probably felt short for those who had had a fruitful year while it may have felt long for those in different circumstances. Bad experiences in our life tend to go on forever no matter how short it lasted. In this way, the march of time is different for each individual.

On the other hand, during our tea ceremony we pay great attention to small movements and the atmosphere. After Kaiseki, there is a moment of peace when we serve thick tea. As time passes, changes in the ash and coal and the sound of boiling water in the kiln are short lived moments. There is great pleasure in enjoying time in a different dimension from the noisy, real world.

The other day, I visited the Spring and Summer 2014 collection of the fashion designer Jun Ashida. You may know this already but I know Mr. Ashida, Japan’s leading fashion designer, through tea ceremony.

Twenty years ago, I used to visit his house to teach tea ceremony thanks to the relationship my father had with him. We gave lessons for Mr and Mrs. Ashida and their daughter who is now active in the front lines in the family business. I will forego the details of the lessons we had but I was very impressed by Mr Ashida's sensitivity.

Most people tend to be limited by the method or the order of how to make the tea but Mr Ashida showed his first interest into a mountain of wall scroll and in addition to that, he first of all enjoyed the atmosphere surrounding the tea room. It was a great pleasure for me to chat with them in their big living room after the lessons where the relation of master and pupil was reversed. Since then, I have been honored to keep our relationship for a long time even when he is unable to attend lessons.

His brand ‘Jun Ashida’ has a 50 year history and this collection was a memorial show. The new pieces were of course beautiful and Mr. Ashida held his wife Tomoko's hand and appeared at the end of the show. It was the first time he had ever done this and the audience burst into applause.