What does and doesn't change[February 2016]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

What does and doesn't change[February 2016]

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

We enjoyed good weather for the first three days of the new year. Annual affairs took place at home such as the tradition of carrying over the fire from last year into the new year, appreciating Oobukucha, tea to welcome happiness at midnight of new year's day, enjoying the family get-together around traditional new year dishes and the first tea ceremony of the new year.

These practices may be perceived unchanged, but I have a different thought.

I do not have the details but there was a time when the Enshu Dojyo school had existed in two places, the first one in Aoyama and another in Shinjuku, since my father built a new house in Shinanomachi in Shinjuku after getting married. At the time, my grandfather Somei was the eleventh heir-to-be the grand tea master and so my father was not yet the twelfth grand tea master. But my father would still teach tea ceremony to pupils in Aoyama Dojyo. And so there were two dojyo, one in Aoyama and another in Shinanomachi for new students.

So it seems that my grandfather and father held new year's eve activities individually. After a while, my grandfathers activities were taken over by my father. After my grandfather's death in 1962 and the time when my father became the twelfth grand tea master, all activities were held in Shinanomachi. I suppose that my father brought some new ways to them. I can tell this because I also blend my thoughts into the traditional activities without fundamentally changing what my father had done. I believe that something that doesn't change, can't change and does change all come together in harmony to create a tradition.

I will cite some examples below. Creating a new tea spoon using newly cut bamboo, which is an annual ritual, was not done every year at least in the early years my father was grand tea master. It was also done even less during my grandfather's time. There are not a lot of bamboo spoons named after the new year theme in my home. It was only in 1965 when my father started this annual tradition. Since I succeeded my father in 2001, my father and I had presented our own spoons shaped for the new year and this practice lasted for ten years.

As for creating green bamboo containers at the beginning of the new year, it has been a tradition since the early 1970's but there were years when green bamboo containers weren't used for the new year because bamboos all over Japan were withered. For fifteen years since I became grand tea master, I cut bamboos each year to make green bamboo containers. There are three containers: one big knotless with two cuts, one small knotless with two cuts and one with one cut. It is possible that I made more bamboo vases than my father. Having said that, after drying not all the bamboo vases are in good condition. So it is difficult to say at this moment who created more vases but it will be me considering the future opportunities ahead.

As described, much in my home has changed and much has not. During Enshu's time, he went to Arima Onsen at the end of the year to refresh himself. Every time I read his year-end letters and his new year's calligraphy written there, I envy him a little. But still I think our time today is more enjoyable.