Cherish the Seasonal Changes[November 2017]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Cherish the Seasonal Changes[November 2017]

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

As with every year, September and October has passed very quickly. The presence of the iron 'furo' in the teahouse represents the coming change in season. When using an iron furo, drawing the shape of grass into the ash is the tradition. We do not know the origin of this tradition, but it seems to represent the progression of autumn. The beauty of a charcoal burner and the crescent-shaped flat tile and the shape of the ash go together very well. The iron furo need not have a used quality about it but it is best if it is nicely aged with use.

Under the iron furo, it is often best to install a flat tile instead of a board. In particular, flat tiles of the Oribe type called 'Sunshoan' are very popular. The water pitcher that is placed to the left of the furo is often a thinly shaped pitcher of the Bizen type. One comes across water pitchers of the Shiragaki type and Kotakatori type. I am sometimes struck by the fact that there are so many pitchers that go well with the "Nakaoki" type tea ceremony that we are organizing this season. This consists of installing the furo in the center of the tea room to give warmth to the guests. It seems that at the time when Enshu lived, many thin pitchers were made for use in the "Nakaoki" tea ceremony. That's why, at least with regard to the Enshu school, we inherit the “Nakaoki” tea ceremony from our founding father.

Those who practice the art of tea on a daily basis tend to be unaware of the value of having the tea ceremony with the same gestures, materials and tea arrangements for the past 400 years. It is not a question of preserving what has already been established for a long time, but instead it is about having the same spiritual mindset that the pioneers had when they first created this type of ceremony. The continued search for this spiritual mindset is what keeps the 400 years of tea ceremony traditions updated and relevant today.

During this season, which marks the transition from summer to autumn, we occasionally call upon a handwritten letter as a kakemono to be placed on the wall of the tea room. Letters are used because letters written at this time of the year often contain personal news and emotional reactions to the change in season. This kind of letter is therefore well suited for a tea ceremony held between seasons. If you read my latest book "The Letters of Kobori Enshu, New Edition", you will understand how our founding father was considerate of others and how people’s emotions remain unchanged.

I ask that you take a moment to consider that living with the art of tea is not limited to daily training but is about being sensitive to all movements of the mind.