One after the other[September 2014]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

One after the other[September 2014]

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

On July 24th we held a press release to announce the release of the Tea Ceremony Teddy Bear created from a collaboration between Enshu and Germany's Steiff. I just wanted to let you know about this and I will write about this in more detail in next month's journal entry.

What comes to people's mind when we talk about the month of September I wonder. It is very normal to think of autumn. Recently, people talk about how hot it still is despite it being September when they used to say this in August. There is another Japanese character for September which expresses how gradually cool it is becoming as we approach autumn.

As would previous generations of tea ceremony practitioners, whenever autumn arrived my father would use the 'Dew of the Chrysanthemum', one of the finest eaglewood incenses. This fragrant wood is still used in our family and I am always reminded of autumn whenever I hear of it. This particularly type of fragrant wood is both refined and overflowing with sentiment.

September is also the season for the Chrysanthemum Festival. Since the Nara period, on the ninth of September there is a tradition of viewing Chrysanthemum in the Imperial Court. It is called 'Kiku no Sekku' and our family, taking from the anecdote that a woman's skin rejuvenates when touched by a dew drop from a Chrysanthemum covered in floss silk, every year my wife and daughters create these Chrysanthemums covered in floss silk to decorate the alcove or to give to the elderly as gifts. The Kanji or Chinese characters which carry the meaning of the Chrysanthemum Festival also carry the tradition of odd numbers being yang and even numbers being yin where September has the most odd numbers.

I would now like to write again about film and there is one thing that I hadn't realized until recently and that is the similarities between my favorite Hollywood star Kirk Douglas and my favorite Japanese actor Ichikawa Utaemon.

Both have sons that are actors, Michael Douglas and Kitaooji Kinya, and both actors are big stars like their fathers. Of course there are many other actors whom I like. Burt Lancaster was a favorite of mine. His son was also an actor it seems but sadly did not become a star.

Speaking of period dramas, there was another actor by the name of Takaoka Chiezo who was often associated with Ichikawa Utaemon. He was a huge star around the time I was born and the rivalry between him and Utaemon was so intense there would be a lot of contention over who would play Oishi Yoshio in films and so on.

Chiezo also had a child who later became an actor but I don't believe he or she became famous. It's fascinating to think that these children who were not famous at all when I were fans of their fathers would go on to become huge stars.

There are similarities with the world of Kabuki. The eyes, voice, movement of the hands and legs bring about great reminiscence, pleasure and fun. One after the other, these people pass on the arts from their generation to the next and this act has become an important part of Japanese culture.