Hon[January 2015]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Hon[January 2015]

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

I hope 2015 is a year that fulfills the dreams and hopes of many.

Thinking back, 2014 was a year that brought many natural disasters to Japan. Each time there is a disaster, I am reminded of the limits of mankind's ability and the respect we need to have for nature. As we focus on doing what needs to be done to revive the economy, we should also stop for a moment and re-examine our way of lives.

The first poetry reading of the new year, convened by the Emperor of Japan and held at the Tokyo Imperial Palace, is on the word Hon - the same character in Nihon, Japanese for Japan, and the same character for book. The subject chosen for the first poetry reading of the new year has in recent years been a single character such as this; my late father would often say it is difficult to write a Waka - a Japanese poem. I am not very skilled at reading Japanese poetry and usually accept the topic of the first poetry reading as is.

In that sense, the topic this year is not that bad. Perhaps it will encourage us all to think deeply about ourselves, our relationship with others and Japan. Furthermore, as the reading population in Japan continues to decline, it will be interesting to see what effect this topic will have.

Hon also has the meaning of 'origin' so this should definitely be an opportunity for us to reflect on how our Japanese ancestors used to live.

Learning tea ceremony requires knowledge and technique and requires that one be both physically and mentally healthy. Choosing and sticking to the path of tea ceremony will lead to much disillusionment and tribulation.

Not everything can be achieved easily and this is only natural. When one hits a wall, what doe one do. Returning to the basics is usually the best advice. This applies not only to tea ceremony but to other situations as well.

In the world we live today we are easily affected by new things, unusual things and interesting things. This is particularly pronounced in an IT society. For this reason, I claim it is important to stop the flow of time.

The other day, foreigners living overseas who claimed to like Japan were asked on a TV program why they like Japan, why they are interested in Japan and so on. Of the answers that were given, there were some which I found very curious.

Other than the history and culture of Japan, foreigners claim to like just how orderly Japan is. Those who have visited Japan also claim that they felt that they were not in a different country. I would like everyone to think about what this means.

I would like us all to feel proud and confident about the fact that Japan and the Japanese people are loved dearly around the world. And I would also like us all to want to be the sort of person who deserves that confidence and pride.