The important things[Jul 2018]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

The important things[Jul 2018]

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

The sunlight is getting stronger as the days go by. All of us of all ages must be careful not to get heatstroke.

I believe there was once a time when nature and its plentiful seasonal changes were welcomed with open arms by the Japanese people. Of course, nature also occasionally tests our resolve with typhoons, earthquakes, fires and floods. But these trials could be considered as warnings to man’s arrogance. Climate change, however, in recent years is a much more dramatic risk. This must be nature's angry reaction to the environmental destruction brought about by mankind. It is high time we stopped taking nature for granted and became aware of the need to always observe nature closely and to protect her.

Since the beginning of this year, there have been a number of exhibitions related to the art of tea and some of those I visited include "Elegance of the Kan-ei era" at the Suntory Museum; "Matsudaira Fumai, Daimyo Tea Master" at the Mitsui Memorial Museum; "The world of Kireisabi today" at the Shizuoka Tea Museum; and an exhibition on the centenary of the Association of Kanazawa Friends of Fine Arts at the Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art. These different cultural events allowed me to acknowledge once again the high degree of aesthetic sense, keen eye for beauty and the foresight of Kobori Enshu.

The great culture of Kanazawa city has its origins in the Maeda family who were the ruling lords of the Kaga Hyakumangoku region. The third Lord Toshitsune and the third Mitsutaka were both disciples of Kobori Enshu so the first collection of tea materials in this family was largely inspired by Enshu. Certain objects in this collection must have been acquired thanks to the power held by the family, but others were certainly inspired by Enshu’s aesthetic and Kireisabi sense.

Matsudaira Fumai was born a little more than one hundred years after Enshu, but we can see how much he revered and admired him when one views his collection. Of course Fumai had respect for the Sekishuryu school which he attended, but he had even greater respect for Enshu.

There are two quotes by Fumai:
"The essence of the art of tea is that which is beautiful, graceful and fleeting"
"Those who don’t follow the changes of the world are in for a poor lifetime"
These sentences join the spirit that emerges from the famous text of Enshu, called "kakisutenofumi" which simply means: "Once you understand something, throw it away". We can say that they also correspond to our contemporary’s ways of life.