Sen Soshitsu XVI, Zabosai Oiemoto:
Reflections on the Occasion of the Urasenke San Francisco Joint Anniversary, April 2012

The Desert and The Tearoom

Firefly Light

Warm Topics for Hot Days

Practicing Tea with a Sincere Mind

Camellia Identities

Camellia Leaves

Home Tradition of Tea Events Writings Study Membership Contact

Tea Bowl


Essays on Tea

Greeting the New Year
by Dr. Sen Genshitsu, Hōunsai Daisōshō

As we face this New Year I am sure every person, in his or her own manner, has expressed the profound hope it will be a year of security and good health. In my household we welcomed the New Year with the same hopes, by means of long-established customs. At the gray light of the first dawn, fresh water was drawn from the well named Ume no i 梅の井. The banked New Year's Eve fire was rekindled. A bowl of tea was offered first to the memory of Sen Rikyu in the Onsodō, then to the memory of my other ancestors and guardians of the house, and finally to members of my family and the masters who teach chanoyu directly under me. Later I was able as usual to offer New Year's greetings, along with a bowl of tea, to the many guests at the first gatherings held in Kyoto and Tokyo.

Thus, each year, events which occur in a never-ending cycle are transmitted to the future, but in this transmission (伝承 denshō), is a very important concept, that is, to impart knowledge and humbly receive from the past (伝え 承る tsutae uketamawaru). Recently there are many people who, from the close of one year to the start of the next, travel abroad or within their country in order to greet the New Year away from home. As the threshold of a New Year approaches, I myself must carry out the function of preserving connections that have been passed down from my ancestors, such as that the fires of a previous year succeed to the present without being extinguished. That is to say, I must act as the guardian of these halls in which I live.

In the act of striving to ward this continuity with the past are ways particular to that path, and existences particular to the household, wherein one who lives there becomes indelibly immersed. I am there in the house to see that this single fire does not die out, that it in fact spreads a greater warmth. Taking a bowl of tea in my hands, I modestly examine myself and, as a person who imparts knowledge of this way, resolve to be aware of the importance of this year's aspirations.

In the Kokin waka shu poetic anthology is the following poem by Minamoto Masazumi.


tanikaze ni
tokuru kōri no
hima goto ni
uchiizuru nami ya
haru no hatsuhana

might they perhaps be
the first blossoms of springtime
those waves bursting forth
through each crevice in the ice
melting in the valley breeze*

The white waves breaking upon dispersing ice must have looked like the first blossoms of white plum. This poem teaches that we must not forget the feeling of gratitude. The joy of being able to greet the New Year in peace, something for which we should not feel personal satisfaction, is a great blessing we have received from our ancestors.

Last year's services for Sen Rikyu's Four Hundredth Memorial are over. This year many busy days will be spent preparing for the various activities planned for the fiftieth anniversary of the Tankō Association in Japan, and travelling to events that will take place abroad. I pray each event proceeds smoothly. In addition, I hope each of you will keep in mind that a single bowl of tea represents a cultural activity of extraordinary breadth and strong presence. I ask that those of you who study the way of tea remember the valuable experiences of attending and hosting ever more tea gatherings, and make the true form and spirit of chanoyu ever more comprehensible to larger numbers of people.

Translated by Christy A. Bartlett.
Originally published in the Urasenke Foundation San Francisco's newsletter Wakamatsu No. 24 Spring 1991.

*McCullough, Helen, Kokin waka shu. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1985. KKS #12. p. 16.






The First Tea of the New Year Tenshin Gathering Foundation Student's Gathering Hatsugama Open Hearth