Inauguration[September 2015]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Inauguration[September 2015]

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

As it is every year, summer in Japan is hot and humid and I imagine there are many of you who are finding it difficult to get to sleep at night with the sweltering nights each and every day. Especially in recent years, the climate in Japan has changed significantly and the rain has become almost tropical, causing extensive damage throughout the country. I extend my sympathies to all the victims of these accidents and urge that everyone make the necessary preparations ahead of typhoons to come in the Autumn season.

On June 30th, at Takagamine in the city of Kyoto, I was asked to install a kettle on the occasion of the inauguration of the newly relocated and reconstructed “Yousuitei” tea house. The tea house was built by Kobori Enshu, the founder of the Enshu school.

It is said that the tea house was constructed at the request of Goto Kakujo , heir to a family specialized in the working of gold used by four Shoguns or lords, Ashikaga , Oda, Toyotomi and Tokugawa since the Muromachi period. Kakujo was also a licensed goldsmith from Toshitsune Maeda, head of the Kaga fiefdom. I think the reason Enshu was appointed to build the tea house was because Enshu was close to the daimyo to which the pavilion was dedicated.

The tea house is characterized by its thirteen different styles of windows and the fact that some of these windows are not made of shoji but fusuma.

During the inauguration, paying particular care to Enshuryu thought, I was careful to highlight the difference between the light and dark by opening and closing the windows to adjust the amount of sunlight. This may be difficult to grasp if one was not there, but it seemed to please the guests.

Regarding the combination of tea utensils used on the day, I took into account a number of elements: the fact that it is an opening, the links between the Maeda family and Enshu, the relations between Enshu and Kakujo or characteristics of Takagamine, and the location of the lodge. In the end, for a kakemono I chose a piece of calligraphy made by Shun-oku Soen, the head of Zen 111th Daitoku-ji temple and was a descendant of the Maeda family. I chose a tea container called "Takigawa" which Enshu offered to Toshitsune and on which there is his inscription. I chose a tea bowl which was made by Honami Koetsu. Many of you know that this bowl was used when Enshu offered tea to the third Shogun Iemitu in the woods of Shinagawa on May 21, 1636. On April 17 in the same year, when Enshu accompanied Iemitsu to the Toshogu temple, Enshu was ordered to plan the construction of a new tea house in Shinagawa and so he ordered the tea bowl to Koetsu, the leading figure in the field of modern art at the time.
Until this occasion, this cup had never left my house, but I decided to make an exception as this was the inauguration of the tea pavilion Takagamine. The relationship between Honami Koetsu and the Goto family go back to the manufacturing of the first swords and metal ornamental fittings and as such, the tea ceremony was attended by members of both families according to the tea program. These past relationships add to the history of the cup used at the inauguration. Please refer to the day program to learn more about the other utensils used during the inauguration.

After deciding the combination of utensils to use at the inauguration, I leafed through the program of a tea ceremony held on October 20th, 1645 by Enshu late in his life and to which Kakujo was invited. I discovered that the same tea container ‘Takigawa’was used at that event . This made clear once again the strong ties between our respective families, with long links of over four hundred years.