DIA FAAC Newsletter 2022 Spring “500th Anniversary of The Birth of Sen no Rikyū”
“500th Anniversary of The Birth of Sen no Rikyū”
DIA FAAC Newsletter 2022 Spring
sen no Rikyū was born in Sakai, Osaka prefecture, in 1522. At 16 he started studying chanoyu, the way of tea, and at 18 he became a disciple of Take no Jōō, whowas the leading master of tea at the time. Jōō worked alongside with his spiritual teacher, Murata Jukō, to incorporate the Zen philosophy of “beauty in imperfection” into tea in the form of wabicha. Rikyū inherited those teachings and further refined the idea of wabi , cutting out everything non essential, thereby bringing wabicha to its peak.
Rikyū’s greatest accomplishment was revolutionizing the Japanese aesthetic sense. Rikyū changed the values of beauty so much that tea gatherings that had up until then been dominated by utensils imported from China and Korea shifted towards a preference for Raku tea bowls fired by Chōjirō and hanging scrolls that expressed the spirituality of Zen.
Not only did he change the style of utensils used, he also changed the style of tearoom, creating the ultimate two mat tea house, Tai an.
Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who were powerful men at the time, also became enamored with chanoyu , collecting specialty tea utensils and holding tea gatherings to pull the strings of feudal lords of the warring states.
Along with being a place for wabi Zen philosophy, the tea room was also where intimate negotiations took place.
2022 marks the 500th anniversary of Sen no Rikyū’s birth. What is it that we can learn from this man? The world has drastically changed with the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic. Our lives have also changed 180 °°. We have gone from leaving for the office every day to working at home, meeting with people less and less. As we spend more time looking at ourselves, it is likely that the Zen philosophy of chanoyu will come to play an important role.
I think that the tea room will become a valuable asset, acting as a place for people to exchange ideas of beauty, Zen spirituality, and of course negotiations.
The ideals of onko chishin (developing new ideas based on study of the past) and fu eki ryūkō (balance between unchanging values and evolution) are needed today.
There is much that we have learned in the time leading up to the 500th anniversary of Rikyū’s birth. What should we do for the next 500 years? Tradition will perish without constant innovation and adaptation to the times.
With this in mind, in 2017 the suitcase teahouse “ZEN An” was born. It was designed with the hope of spreading Japanese culture through Rikyū’s Zen spirit of the tea ceremony. We have packed traditional master craftmanship together with the spirituality of chanoyu into a suitcase so that it can be carried around the world.
Starting at the Detroit Institute of Arts’ opening of the Japan Gallery, ZEN An has continued on to be featured at the United Nations Headquarters event, “Peace is…”, and has even been used to conduct a tea ceremony at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It has been traveling the world ever since.
ZEN-An’s Website: ZEN-An’s Website
I hope that the number of easily-accessible tearooms will increase so that people can enjoy chanoyu and experience Japanese culture in the form of the Zen spirit in the comfort of their own homes and offices. I also hope that the spirit of Rikyū will be passed on to the next generation.
Last year we launched a project to revive Shibusawa Eiichi’s teahouse, “Mushin-an,” as a legacy for the next generation. The goal of the project to rebuild Mushin-an is to pass on to the next generation the spirit of Shibusawa Eiichi, an entrepreneur who built the foundation of Japan by founding as many as 500 hundred companies during the Meiji period.
Mushin-an will be a tearoom that functions as a salon, promoting exchange with the younger generation of people from all over the world through the love of traditional Japanese culture.
Mushin-an Website: Mushin-an Website
The tea room is not just an empty space. It is a place for ichi-go ichi-e, a once-in-a-lifetime encounter, a place where hearts connect.
Kuniji Tsubaki: https://en.t-a.co.jp/