My fatherand Mr. Seizo Hayashiya - Part Two[September 2017]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

My fatherand Mr. Seizo Hayashiya - Part Two[September 2017]

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

It has been very hot every day in Japan. Adjectives such as ‘violent’ are used to describe the heat and are getting increasingly extreme, as if existing terms somehow do the heat no justice. The terms take serious linguistic liberties but are nonetheless successful in conveying that it is, in fact, very hot. This kind of severe climate change has caused a significant part of Kyushu to be hit by heavy rains that have caused considerable damage and casualties. I wish with all my heart that the affected areas be restored as quickly as possible.

This month again, I will write about the relationship between my father and Mr. Hayashiya.

The majority of exchanges between these two men took place at the tea ceremonies presided by my father, those organized by Mr. Hayashiya, or at various round tables or symposia. As I wrote last month, these two men deepened their ties especially during tea ceremonies organized by my father. They exchanged their points of view on the concept of art, tea and tea utensils, occasionallywith serenity and occasionally with severity. For an assistant like me who was limited to supplying water for the tea ceremony, it was an extremely precious moment. Since the "first furo" ash affair, I have heard that Mr. Hayashiya has often said that tea ceremonies with my father always contained happy surprises, emotions and teachings. Among these many stories, there is one that is very famous.

The story happened during a tea ceremony held in late November one year. Incidentally, since there are many tasks to accomplish in November, tea ceremonies of the first ‘ro’ in the beginning of November is always a challenge. The opening of 'ro' is organized at the beginning of November and it is essential to do that at the dojyo, but it can be difficult to find time to do tea ceremonies at this time of year. The garden of our tea pavilion "Jojuan", the trees take on beautiful colors between November 28th and December 5th and so this is when we organize tea ceremonies of the first 'ro'.

Now with the preamble out of the way, at the time of this story the leaves were putting on their autumn colors. The initial greetings were completed and my father began the preparation of ashes, an act to which our school attaches great importance. The preparation of the ashes has the practical purpose of warming the room for the guests who had been waiting outside and preparing hot water for the tea ceremony. As this is a tradition that comes before the tea ceremony and aims to calm the spirits of the guests, it should not be taken too seriously, but nor should it be neglected. Elegance is important. The materials used in the preparation of the ashes begin with the koho box which contains various aroma, then a box containing ashes and then a small broom made of a feather. That day, Mr. Hayashiya was extremely appreciative of the way my father handled his feather broom. Many different types of feathers can be used for such a broom, such as those of a crane. That year, my father used a feather of a big bird. This big bird feather broom is not in the Enshu school collection, but it has quite an ancient item. The feather is so very tender, when one picks it up and moves it around, one gets a good impression of how the bird flew gently through the air. When my father cleaned the 'ro' container using the broom, I thought I could sense a sigh of admiration from the guests and later my suspicion was in fact confirmed. I have heard that Mr. Hayashiya himself mentioned this story several times in conferences.

This story actually continues. My father invited Mr. Hayashiya later to another tea ceremony. When my father began to prepare the ash, Mr Hayashiya remarked about how my father used the broom, “It’s a little different from the last time…” My father said, “Yes, that’s because you’ve been telling people about it everywhere.” The ash preparation ended there. Subsequently, when I met Mr. Hayashiya, he told me “It’s interesting to see that even a master like your father can get self conscious”. When I told this to my father he replied with a smile, “It happens.” This was one of those moments when I was reminded of just how deep tea ceremony truly is.

Before concluding this article, I would like to express my condolences to the family of Mr. Sennou Tanaka, the former president of the Japanese Tea Association, who left us on May 31st. Mr. Tanaka provided valuable support through the activities of the Tokyo Tea Arts Association.