2016 Hatsugama-shiki

The alcove decorations in the main room.

The Urasenke head family's Hatsugama-shiki celebrating the arrival of 2016 took place at Konnichian, Kyoto, over the six days of January 7-12, and at the Urasenke Tokyo Branch the four days of January 16-19.

Konnichian, Kyoto

The main room for the Hatsugama-shiki in Kyoto, where Iemoto Zabosai prepared koicha (matcha of thick consistency) for the guests, was the Chofu-no-ma in the Heisei Chashitsu. In the alcove hung the heirloom kaishi poem by Emperor Ogimachi (r. 1557-86) which Iemoto often selects for this occasion. Hanging on the alcove post was the heirloom copy of the "Rikyu Hashinobo" bamboo flower container, which bears the signature of Senso Soshitsu (1622-97). In it was a camellia and a sprig of uguisukagura (a variety of honeysuckle with Japanese name that translates as Bush Warbler's Sacred Music and Dance). In the alcove, the symbolic New Year's musubiyanagi (willow branches with one made into a loop) hung down from the upper rear corner, and an antique Shinto bell instrument with colorful streamers was set on a red-lacquered stand on the floor.

Close-up view of the scroll in the main room. The items on the floor in the alcove.

At the first seating on the first day, the top four guests, who would share the first bowl of koicha prepared by Iemoto Zabosai, were Iemoto SEN Sosa of Omotesenke, Iemoto SEN Soshu of Mushakojisenke, Kyoto Governor YAMADA Keiji, Kyoto Mayor KADOKAWA Daisaku, and Chairman TATEISHI Yoshio of the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The other distinguished guests included MAEHARA Seiji and IZUMI Kenta, both of whom are members from Kyoto of the Japanese Diet's House of Representatives; Chairman UEDA Yoshihiro of the Kyoto Prefectural Assembly, Chairman TSUDA Daizo of the Kyoto City Assembly; Vice Chairman TSUKAMOTO Yoshikata of the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Former Secretary General YOSHIDA Tadatsugu of the Kyoto Association of Corporate Executives, President SHIRAISHI Michikazu of Kyoto Shimbun Holdings, and Iemoto-to-be IKENOBO Senko of the Ikenobo school of ikebana, among others.

Once the guests were seated, Iemoto Zabosai built the charcoal fire in the ro (sunken hearth), and the guests were served Urasenke's traditional New Year's confection, called "Hishi Hanabira."

The "Hishi Hanabira" confection.

Iemoto prepared the first bowl of koicha using the set of three stacked tea bowls named "Fuku Roku Ju" which is reserved for use at the Hatsugama-shiki, and his son, SEN Takafumi, carried it to Iemoto SEN Sosa. At this and most of the seatings throughout the Hatsugama-shiki both in Kyoto and Tokyo, SEN Takafumi assisted, conveying the tea and other items to the main guests, while IZUMI Koichiro, IZUMI Reijiro, and other men of the head family helped to serve the other guests.

Iemoto Zabosai prepares the first bowl of koicha.

Takafumi serves the koicha to Iemoto SEN Sosa. IZUMI Koichiro and Reijiro help serve the guests.

At the end of the koicha service, the men of the Head Family all entered the room together and Iemoto Zabosai, as spokesman, addressed the guests, saying that, because it was his kanreki (completion of one full cycle on the zodiac calendar; i.e., reaching one's 60th birthday) year, he wanted to start afresh by looking back on his attitudes until now and proceeding into the future with a renewed attitude. From Daisosho to the young men of the family, they would all endeavor more than ever to spread the spirit of chado, he said.

The men of the family come in together to greet the guests.

Then, bringing the seating to an impressive close, there was a performance of the felicitous noh chant "Shikainami" (The Waves of the Four Seas) by the head of the Kongo school of noh, KONGO Hisanori, to the accompaniment of a kotsuzumi hand drum.

Performance of the noh chant "Shikainami."

SEN Masako, SEN Makiko, and other ladies of the Head Family entertained the guests with celebratory foods and sake in the Kangetsu-no-ma room on the second floor of the Heisei Chashitsu.

The ladies of the Head Family pour sake (rice wine) for the guests in the room where the guests were treated to celebratory foods.

In the Chado Kaikan across the street, members of the Gyoteibu (corps of Konnichian deputy tea masters) welcomed the guests for usucha (matcha of relatively thin consistency).

Urasenke Tokyo Branch
As opposed to the comfortable weather throughout the Hatsugama-shiki in Kyoto, in Tokyo the temperature had become cold, and there were periods of heavy snow.

Garden scene at the Urasenke Tokyo Branch.

The top guest on the first day, January 16, of the Hatsugama-shiki at the Urasenke Tokyo Branch was Japan's Prime Minister ABE Shinzo, followed by Former Prime Minister FUKUDA Yasuo and wife, Former Prime Minister HATOYAMA Yukio and wife, Former Prime Minister KAN Naoto, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs KOMURA Masahiko and wife, Former Chief Cabinet Secretary KAWAMURA Takeo, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare SHIOZAKI Yasuhisa, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications TAKAICHI Sanae, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General ISHIHARA Nobuteru, and many members of the upper and lower houses of the Japanese Diet, Urasenke elders, and other distinguished guests, for a total of sixty-two guests at the first seating.

Iemoto Zabosai prepares the first bowl of koicha at the Urasenke Tokyo Branch Hatsugama-shiki.

The men of the family come in together to greet the guests.

The ladies of the family pour sake (rice wine) as the guests enjoy the celebratory foods.