Every tide has its ebb [Sep 2018]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Every tide has its ebb [Sep 2018]

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

The month of September is typically marked by the harvest moon and the Chrysanthemum festival but will this be the case this year? I am writing this article in July and the heat is intense every day.

According to the news, more people died from heat stroke this year than any year in history. The media informs us of the different ways to prepare against heat stroke. But what matters most in the end is that we take care of our own health and each and every one of us must be aware that the heat this year surpasses past norms.

The same goes for so the many natural disasters that took place this year. It is important that we
don’t become complacent about risks and instead calmly assess what is happening and to decide the appropriate course of action. The fact that every time I write in this journal, I mention some kind of natural phenomenon is indicative of how much things have changed.

The harvest moon I mentioned earlier refers to the moon that is visible on the fifteenth night of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. It is often said that the custom of enjoying the beauty of this full moon originally came from China at the time of the Heian period but I do not think it is the case. There are of course countless poems that evoke the beauty of the harvest moon composed at this time but this was not entirely due to Chinese influence, but instead could be said to have its roots in the deep relationship that the Japanese have had with nature since the dawn of time. In Japan, there is also the custom of appreciating the moon on September 13th, referred to as “the thirteenth night” and is celebrated as the second full moon following the one in August. Even our founder Kobori Enshu was involved in many poems evoking the harvest moon and thirteenth night. He gave names which were evocative of the moon such as Hirosawa or Geppaku to certain tea-containers which he had discovered. and which he inscribed on his list of chuko-no-meibetsu. Perhaps the most famous of the teaching he left us is ‘Every tide has its ebb’.

Appreciating the moon in the evening as opposed to when it begins to fade away comes from the emotion we all have to want to see the beauty of life as it nears perfection. On the other hand, it is a warning to resist arrogance once we reach perfection. It teaches us that we must always be modest, to think of others, and when something is lacking, we must endeavor to complete it. I would like to spend the last half of the year with this in mind.