Separation[April 2015]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Separation[April 2015]

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

On February 21st, the famous kabuki actor Bando Mitsugoro passed away. Many of you may remember the scene in the prologue of the film "My father is the Grand Master" where Mitsugoro drinks tea which I served for him.

He and I were born in the same year of 1956 and went to the same kindergarten. Our fathers knew each other very well and we officially met each other as successors of traditional culture about thirty years ago when we were in our late twenties working on a magazine project. The first impression that I had of Mitsugoro was 'what a handsome man' and it was very time I had ever had such an impression of someone. Since then, we occasionally exchange our thoughts in work sessions held for the successors of Japanese culture.

Our relationship grew strong in January of 2001, at which time he became the tenth Mitsugoro and I took over from my father by taking the name Sojitsu as the thirteenth grand master of Enshu Sado. We would appear on television shows celebrating each other's estates and at the reception to celebrate my taking over from my father, Mitsugoro was kind enough to perform a traditional Japanese dance. Since then, we dined together two or three times a year which would often go on late into the night.

In our conversations, we often say discuss how we should focus on becoming number one in our respective fields and to always give our audience the best performance. We were also in agreement that we had the responsibility to pass down our knowledge to future generations. It is in this spirit that, in recent years, when we met for dinners and drinks, I would bring some of my disciples with me and he too was accompanied by young actors. Mitsugoro was one of the few people to whom I could open my heart outside my professional relationships. He was like a brother-in-arms.

When you live a long life, it is normal to lose people who are dear to you. But this is the first time I lost someone who was my age. We will not be able to celebrate our sixtieth birthdays together. This sense of loss is terribly shocking for me .

A week before his death, there was a television show in which Mitsugoro talks about the castles that he likes. During the show, I tried to contact him. Usually, whenever I saw his performance on television or in the theater, I emailed him at the end. But on this occasion, I emailed him during the broadcasting. But there was no reply from him. This worried me a little and I asked another friend who knew Mitsugoro to check on him and was informed of his death just days later.

The passing of Mitsugoro coincided with the TV release of the film "My father is the Grand Master". The news of his death was announced in the evening of the same day. This means that it was in my film that he made his first official appearance on TV after his death. I cannot help thinking that we had very curious and unique bond. Allow me end this entry by paying tribute to Mitsugoro .