In the cold [March 2018]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

In the cold [March 2018]

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

It has been a long time since we had such a cold winter and new year. It seems that Japanese people under the age of forty have never known a January and February so cold. I believe that we sense the cold differently, depending on the difference in temperature indoors and outdoors. In fact, today's homes are so hermetically sealed that they no longer receive any wind through the walls as was the case in the past. But the problem with modern homes is bad air circulation, which can cause stuffiness and require opening the windows from time to time. Personally, I feel the cold and do not like to open the windows of my tea room but have to on occasion.

In the past, heating as we understand it today did not exist. In addition, as homes got older, they began to suffer damage to the 'shoji' and 'fusuma' (sliding doors) which meant we had draughts all over the place.

I remember that about forty years ago, when I went in the middle of winter to my father's Japanese painting master's house, I found only a 'hibachi' (charcoal brazier) in an eight mat room. There was very little coal and every visit to this master’s house was uncomfortable. This lack of heating was everywhere and so it was the case at the Zen Keitoku-in Temple where I did my training. My living quarters was a tea room of four and a half mats. When I was training in tea ceremony there were coals in the 'ro', but other than that there was absolutely no heating. Worse still, this room was located in the north of the temple where it had no sunlight and was very cold. You can easily imagine how cold I felt. I tried to overcome the cold by putting newspaper between my thick sweater and undergarments. Compared to those times, we have much more comfort.

In January, the city of Tokyo was hit by heavy snowfall. It had been a long time since the residents of Tokyo received such a white gift. With communication disrupted, the vulnerability of the capital city to snow has been demonstrated once again. But we can think of this as a rewarding experience: those who had never cleared snow will have come to understand how difficult it is. Everything that happens around us is a learning opportunity.