Our own ability[Aug 2018]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Our own ability[Aug 2018]

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

The rainy season ended on June 29th in Tokyo, the city I call home. It was the earliest ending of the rainy season ever recorded since meteorological observation began. I am sure many would agree with me that there were few days of rain during this period. But in other parts of the country, there were torrential rains that caused various and considerable amounts of damage. In addition, we have more earthquakes than usual which is quite worrying to be honest.

Today, countless aspects of our daily lives are becoming mechanized, automated, electrified and digitized. This system of convenience, however, very quickly becomes inconvenient and ineffective in the wake of a disaster. Recently, a massive earthquake with a seismic intensity of six struck the city of Osaka and caused most public transportation to come to a standstill. This wasn’t because there was damage, but because time was needed to check whether the transport systems could function normally. Our reality is that everything remains interrupted until everything passes checks.

There is no choice but to accept this because our daily lives rely on machines. Our present reality is that we cannot, after such a long time, free ourselves from this reliance. However, this is precisely the reason why we should reestablish what we mean by human capability. By this I mean that instead of digitizing everything, there should be a place for the analog.

In our modern society where everything, not to mention highly technology oriented sectors such as computers but everything in our homes in our daily lives, is digitized, if a device malfunctions, it is not easily repaired. In the past, we could deal with or repair small malfunctions by ourselves. But today, if we attempt to repair devices ourselves we run the risk of losing all the data. Preserving data is a practice that has a long history not only in tea ceremony but across Japan and was done so using ink and paper. The scrolls from the Heian period have lasted more than a thousand years of history in paper form. As long as the paper and ink do not wear out, their value will remain intact. I do not deny the value of digital data but I would like humanity to keep a part of itself free from reliance on machines, at least the part of us that does the thinking. It is clear that our memory is deteriorating and in my case, for example, while I used to remember the phone numbers of close to hundred acquaintances, I am now barely able to remember my own. What we gain in convenience by relying on things, we lose in something else. I believe it is high time we reconsider what can do and what we must do.