Twenty -fifth anniversary in Singapore[October 2015]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Twenty -fifth anniversary in Singapore[October 2015]

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

I cannot think of a better word to use to describe the summer this year than "scorching" but as we entered the end of August, we suddenly felt the approach of autumn. It is not easy to bear this sudden change of the seasons.

It was at the end of August that I made my annual visit to Singapore. My trip this year was unique in that it was the 25th anniversary of the beginning of cooperation in the field of tea ceremony between the Enshu school and the National University of Singapore (NUS). Many events were organized on this occasion. Next year, Singapore will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding and we were happy to participate in this "prelude" to the celebration.

At the heart of these events was the presentation of the documentary film "My Father is the Grand Master" which was shown throughout Japan last year. The film was shown twice, first on August 21st, after the twenty-fifth anniversary ceremony celebrating relations between the NUS and the Enshu School and which was attended by the Embassy of Japan in Singapore, and then the next day at the Japan Creative Centre. The reactions of the audience were very positive and we have received many questions after the sessions. At both venues, before and after each session, we offered tea to the visitors who came in large numbers.

The Japanese Ambassador in Singapore and the Vice-President of NUS representing the President graced the ceremony with their presence and celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of relations between the university and our home and I was honored to be awarded special prizes by both institutions. Mr. Haruhisa Takeuchi, Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Japan in Singapore, mentioned in his speech my predecessor and father Koshin Sokei which, according to the Ambassador, laid the foundation of this cooperation. This was truly touching and I was reminded that I had had been able to build this relationship into what it is today thanks to having inherited it from my father. The UNC also awarded a special prize to Mr. Miura Sosei, Professor at the International Division of the Enshu School, who teaches tea students when I am not in Singapore.

At the tea ceremony, students and graduates of the University were charged with serving tea and explaining the tools. It was the first time they worked as assistants in a official tea ceremony. I think this experience will help them to progress in this area.

On August 24th we organized some tea lessons for middle school children at a school in the Kranji area. Unlike the Ministry of Education's Language Centre where we gave a similar course last year, this was a local school and even though the students did not understand Japanese, they enjoyed the tea in a lively atmosphere.

Between the two events, students from my school and I visited the cemetery of Japanese soldiers who had lost their lives in the Second World War. My father went there twenty five years ago and offered tea to the departed souls.

This year Japan celebrates the seventieth anniversary of the end of the war. We are here thanks to the efforts of those who lost their lives many miles away from Japan in the service of their country. It is the duty of the Japanese alive today not to forget this and to pass it on to future generations.