2004 Hatsugama-shiki
New Year's Tea Celebration

The Urasenke head family's 2004 New Year's tea celebration (hatsugama-shiki) took place from January 7-13 at Konnichian, Kyoto, and from January 16-20 at the Urasenke Tokyo Branch.
        At the very first seating at Konnichian, which began at 8:45 A.M. on January 7, there were thirty-three guests. Seated in the first five positions were Grand Master SEN Sosa of Omotesenke, Grand Master SEN Soshu of Mushakojisenke, Grand Master YAMADA Sohen of the Sohen chado tradition, Kyoto Governor YAMADA Keiji, and Kyoto Mayor MASUMOTO Yorikane. As per custom, the central room in the Konnichian complex, the Totsutotsusai, served as the main room. Here, Grand Master Zabosai Soshitsu prepared koicha (thick tea) for the guests, and Hounsai SEN Genshitsu acted in conveying it to them. In the alcove hung the heirloom scroll featuring an auspicious "Pine Poem" by Emperor Ogimachi (r. 1557-86), and traditional New Year's looped willow branches hanging from a fresh green bamboo container attached high in the corner of the alcove. Grand Master Zabosai made the koicha using a set of three nested teabowls named "Fukurokuju," which is the name for the God of Good Fortune and Longevity, and his first teascoop of the year, which he had given the name "Maisugata" (Dancing Figure). As this year is the Year of the Monkey according to the sexagenary cycle, and Grand Master Zabosai was born in the Year of the Monkey, many of the utensils had to do with the theme of "monkey."

Grand Master Zabosai Soshitsu prepares the koicha.
Hounsai SEN Genshitsu conveys the koicha to the guests.

    After the koicha, Zabosai and Hounsai came into the room to formally express their New Year's greetings. In response, Governor Yamada, on behalf of all the guests, expressed his congratulations and best wishes to the family. Afterwards, the head master of the Kongo noh tradition, KONGO Hisanori, performed an auspicious noh chant.

The members of the head family express their formal greetings.
KONGO Hisanori, accompanied by hand-drum player, performs noh chant.

    For the festive New Year's meal served by the ladies of the family, this year the large room on the second floor of the Chado Kaikan, across the street from the Kabutomon, was the venue. Towards the end of last year, some alterations were made to the Chado Kaikan building, to facilitate this usage of the upstairs room. Guests at the hatsugama-shiki also enjoyed usucha in the tearooms on the first floor of the Chado Kaikan and in the nearby Urasenke Gakuen school building.

Ladies of the head family express their greetings
at the venue for the festive meal.

The wife of the Grand Master, SEN Masako (left), and their daughter, Makiko (right), serve the guests rice wine.

The usucha venue in the Chado Kaikan.
The usucha venue at the Urasenke Gakuen building.

    During the seven days of the 2004 hatsugama-shiki at Konnichian, 3,200 guests mainly from western Japan were received. Approximately 2,900 guests mainly from eastern Japan, including Prime Minister KOIZUMI Jun'ichiro, attended it over the five days during which it was held at the Urasenke Tokyo Branch.