Hospitality[May 2016]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Hospitality[May 2016]

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

We are now in the season of beautiful greenery and refreshing breezes. We were fortunate enough to enjoy a long cherry blossom season this year, throughout the school graduation and entrance ceremony season.

My neighborhood is located in one of the best sites for cherry blossoms in Tokyo. Sotobori-dori just in front of my house and Yasukuni-dori which is just beyond welcomed a large turnout of people this season. The cherry blossom periods of the two streets are about a week apart, allowing us a full two weeks to enjoy them. If you venture a little further beyond Yasukuni, you can see an uninterrupted expanse of cherry blossoms at Chidorigafuchi which then stretch towards the Imperial Palace.

Since last year, in addition to the locals, foreign tourists have begun flocking here as well. They are of course welcome, but it seems that their presence can be problematic due to differences in culture and tradition and almost daily the media humorously reports small troubles and incidents that arise.

Actually, I have some serious concerns and frustrations about this. The Japanese government positions Japan as a travel destination and welcomes and attracts foreign tourists on a large scale. The word “omotenashi”, or hospitality, is used frequently in this context. But in light of this policy, it is clear that the intention is to simply increase the number of foreign tourists, thereby revealing that economic growth is the utmost priority.

As I have often said in these columns, hospitality only makes sense when there is a mutual understanding between the host and guest. It is said in the art of tea, "the host must know the mind of the guest and the guest must know the mind of the host."

Nothing good will come from doing things unilaterally. Celebrating the art of tea requires that one follows certain rules and manners. This applies to anything. I feel that Japanese people today are too humble as hosts. We should be very conscious of our own values when we interact with those around us. I believe this is important in this age of globalization.

Lastly, we just released the 600th edition of our magazine "Enshu". It was first launched in July 1978. I can’t help but feel there is some deeper meaning that the magazine which had just come out when I graduated university is celebrating its 600th edition in the same year that I turn sixty. The next edition will be undergo some changes. I thank our readers for their continued loyalty. Last but not least, I take this opportunity to give my tribute to the publishing house "Nikkan Kogyo Shuppan Production" which had been responsible until now for editing the magazine.