The Tea Ceremony Teddy Bear[October 2014]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

The Tea Ceremony Teddy Bear[October 2014]

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

The long and scorching hot summer gave way rather suddenly at the end of August to a much more Autumn like temperature and can get quite chilly in the mornings and evenings. And of course, as shocking as always, it is already October.

This summer, other than the heat, Japan was struck in several locations by heavy rain. Apparently, since this rain occurred in regions with little history of heavy rain and in limited areas only, it would have been difficult to prevent the damage. To those who suffered as a result of these disasters, I extend my condolences..

As I mentioned in my journal entry last month, I would like to write a little about the tea ceremony Teddy Bear. As you may know, the Teddy Bear was first created by the Steiff company in 1880 in Germany.

Margarete Steiff, the founder of the Steiff, was handicapped and was in a wheelchair but went on to create a company which would contribute immensely to society during the 19th century by employing many physically handicapped people to manufacture stuffed toys with the hope of delivering dreams to children. Her granddaughter Claire Steiff visited Japan and we conducted a joint press conference with her at the Shukei training dojo.

In creating this Tea Ceremony Teddy Bear in collaboration with Steiff, I wanted to express a feeling of ‘hospitality’ which is a key concept of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

The first we had to decide was whether the teddy bear was a boy or a girl. This was fundamental to deciding other aspects of the design. After a lot of deliberation, we decided on dressing the teddy bear in a woman's kimono. In order to draw clear distinction between this teddy bear and others, we wanted this a standing teddy bear which evokes the image of a Japanese doll. In the long sleeve of the teddy bear's kimono we stitched the symbol of shippomon. The symbol of shippomon represents chains and ties of eternity. When I first saw the Tea Ceremony Teddy Bear wearing a silk wrapping cloth and serving tea in both hands, it truly was a sight for sore eyes. It was worth all the back and forth and correspondence with Germany in the past year since the project began.

Lastly I would like to talk about film again. In my June journal entry, I talked about the first film I saw with my father but I recently realized that my memory was mistaken. The first film I actually saw with my father was 'The Way West', so in terms of the first actor that left a large impression on me, Kirk Douglas, I was not mistaken.

The very first film I saw was the Japanese Godzilla series, a film in its own special category. Godzilla was filmed in 1954 and this year is the film's 60th anniversary.

The film I saw was either the third in the series 'King Kong vs. Godzilla' released in 1962 or Mothra vs. Godzilla released in 1964. I was either 6 or 8 at the time and there were many people from all ages. It is needless to say that the film captivated me. One of these days I would like to write in more detail about that as well.