Appreciation of objects [July 2016]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Appreciation of objects [July 2016]

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

NASA of the US recently announced that this summer will be the hottest on record. Indeed, reports indicate that as early as middle of May, temperatures above 30 degrees were recorded and the first day of summer arrived faster than any other year throughout the country. Japan has an aging population concerns of heat stroke are on the increase. The elderly can often be scrupulous about using air conditioning and also often avoid drinking water because they want a good night’s sleep. But as the climate continues to change I recommend it is best to drink plenty of water.

The tea ceremony held last May in the tea pavilion "Kohoan" in Kyoto was held in a very pleasant climate with a clear blue sky and a refreshing smell of new grass. The sessions included the serving of thick tea and light tea and the use of utensils of the founding father Enshu, thereby displaying high levels of Kireisabi.

That day, I was looking forward to finding an object that I had not seen for a long time: a half moon shaped Takatori water container, used during the light tea session held in the Bosen room. Takatori pottery is, as you know, closely related to the Enshu school. It is well known that Nagamasa and Tadayuki of the Kuroda family had once asked the founder Enshu to train the potters.

Training to be a pottery maker was once so strict that only one out of a thousand teacups was selected and the rest were discarded. Takatori pottery went on to become one of the most representative potteries under the direction of Enshu. We particularly like the tea cups produced at that time under the name of Enshu Takatori. Ancient pottery presented under the name Takatori are plentiful but true Enshu Takatori are not so common.

The water container that we saw in the Bousen room is a piece of Enshu Takatori pottery worthy of the name. Among half-moon shaped water containers, the one in the memorial museum of Hatakeyama has been famous for centuries. The piece has a hollow area in the face which is covered in a pretty white glaze. While the water container that we saw in Kyoto is covered in brown and yellow glazing. The yellow glaze is also used in the famous Takatori tea cup called "Men." It has very fine grooves and has characteristics favored by Enshu. I had actually seen this once before, twenty years ago, but I felt more attracted by the other water container in a white glaze. Now, however, I prefer the plainer one with brown and yellow glazing. I wondered why my taste had changed and I remembered a poem about an Asukagawa tea container and a story about the founding father of Enshu:

Living yesterday and today near the Asuka River
I feel how quickly time passes

By Harumichi no Tsuraki

Our perception of things changes with time after all.