Double Surprise[Feb 2014]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Double Surprise[Feb 2014]

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

I wonder how you spent New Year's Eve. While everything isn't a horse race, it is very important to sprint from the start when doing anything. If you take the first step in a good mood, taking the second and third comes easily. However, there is an old saying that “good can come out of misfortune” and “sadness and gladness succeed each other.” I hope this year will be one where we all make progress in the things we do.

By the way, two surprising things happened at the end of last year that I want to tell you about.

The first surprise happened at the last lesson of the year for my pupils in December. I usually serve tea for my pupils in the afternoon at my lesson room while going over the events of the year. Then in the evening we held a dinner party at a different location. We enjoy the time together as we can casually talk together with pupils with whom we don't have many occasions to talk. After the main course and soup, 60 beautiful representatives of Miss international candidates from various countries suddenly appeared at the venue. Actually the international pageant was planned to be held in a few days in Tokyo and I was assigned as a judge. So it was suggested by Mr. Shimomura, the chairman of the International Culture Association, to visit me at the dinner party as a greeting. It was a good thinking on his part. Needless to say, this delighted my pupils. The representatives came to the lesson room to try the tea ceremony again later before the final competition. I worried whether they could sit with their legs bent beneath them, but they enjoyed the tea despite my worries.

The second surprise was an episode in Nezu museum in Aoyama. As you know there was an exhibition of the “Ido Chawan ” tea bowl from last November to December. It was the greatest exhibition in history as it displayed 70 bowls including a national treasure, “Kizaemon”, Ooido tea bowl, Koido tea bowl and Aoido tea bowl. In fact, I was honored to have part of my tea serving used in a promotional poster. The first day of the exhibition I spent a long time thoroughly enjoying the exhibits but had planned to visit the exhibition again before it ended. I heard that this was of course very popular and crowded and I asked the museum as a favor to let me visit it again on the Sunday one week before the end of the exhibition. Fortunately, I was able to enter the museum a little earlier than usual.

I was planning on going to tea ceremony after the exhibition and was enjoying the exhibition with my wife when the museum staff told us that Caroline Kennedy, the US ambassador to Japan, visiting the museum momentarily and asked that we accompany her for a little while. The curator, Mr. Koichi Nezu, also came hastily with his wife. Half an hour later, the Ambassador arrived for her private visit and we welcomed her at the entrance before she went to the exhibition. I thought initially that it wouldn’t take longer for her to see the exhibition and was waiting for her with the curator outside. But even after 30 minutes she didn’t come out so we went inside only to see that she was looking at every single bowl very carefully. I was surprised by her attitude as it is difficult even for us Japanese people to understand Ido chawan tea bowl. It was just when she was looking at the Koido tea bowl when I approached her and explained its history with my ancestors. I felt very happy for some reason and felt that we were about to welcome a very good new year.