2018 Hatsugama-shiki

The main room in the Heisei Chashitsu, Kyoto, in readiness to receive the guests.

The Urasenke head family's Hatsugama-shiki celebrating the arrival of the New Year, 2018, was held at the family's homestead in Kyoto, Konnichian, over the six days of January 7-12, during which the family received approximately 2,200 guests mainly from western Japan, and at the Urasenke Tokyo Branch the four days of January 15-18, during which they received approximately 2,400 guests mainly from eastern Japan.

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), the 4th generation ancestor in the Urasenke family line. It held a camellia and a sprig of 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 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 alcove floor.

At the first seating on the first day, the top five guests, who would share the first bowl of koicha prepared by Urasenke Iemoto Zabosai SEN Soshitsu, were Omotesenke Iemoto Jimyosai SEN Sosa, Mushakojisenke Iemoto Futessai SEN Soshu, Kyoto Governor YAMADA Keiji, Kyoto Mayor KADOKAWA Daisaku, and IBUKI Bunmei, who is a member of the Japanese Diet's House of Councilors. Other dignitaries at this seating included MAEHARA Seiji, NISHIDA Shoji, and FUKUYAMA Tetsuro, who, like IBUKI Bunmei, are Kyoto members of the House of Councilors; Kyoto Prefectural Assembly Chairman MURATA Seiji; Kyoto City Assembly Chairman TERADA Kazuhiro; Ikenobo Headmaster Designate IKENOBO Senko; and Vice-Chairman TSUKAMOTO Yoshikata of the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to name a few.

Once the guests were in their seats, Urasenke Daisosho Hounsai SEN Genshitsu entered and expressed his New Year's greetings to everyone, and then the guests were served Urasenke's special New Year's confection, Hishihanabira. Iemoto Zabosai entered and, sitting at his favored black-lacquered daisu shelf unit having posts decorated in maki-e of symbolic treasures, prepared the koicha. His son, SEN Takafumi, acted in conveying the tea to the Omotesenke Iemoto.

Takafumi bows once he has conveyed the tea to Omotesenke Iemoto Jimyosai, who returns the bow. Omotesenke Iemoto Jimyosai compliments Zabosai on the koicha, and Zabosai thanks him with a bow.

At this and most of the seatings throughout the Hatsugama-shiki both in Kyoto and Tokyo, 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.

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 he was savoring the joy he felt in being able, as always, to serve a New Year's bowl of tea to all of the people gathered there, people with whom Urasenke shared a bond.

The men of the head family come in together to greet the guests. From the right: Iemoto Zabosai, Daisosho Hounsai, SEN Takafumi, IZUMI Koichiro, IZUMI Reijiro, OTANI Hiromi, and NAYA Yoshito.

Lastly, 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 the crisp accents of a kotsuzumi hand drum.

Performance of the noh chant "Shikainami."

The guests then were invited to the Kangetsu-no-ma room on the second floor of the Heisei Chashitsu, to share in some sake (rice wine) and felicitous New Year's foods served by SEN Masako, her and Iemoto Zabosai's recently married daughter SAKATA Makiko, and other ladies of the head family.

The alcove decorations in the Kangetsu-no-ma.

SAKATA Makiko pours sake. SEN Masako invites the guests to raise their filled sake cups for a New Year's toast.

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
The decorations, confections, and festive meal here were very nearly the same as they were for the Konnichian Hatsugama-shiki.
The decorated alcove area of the main room at the Tokyo Branch.

As at the event in Kyoto, once the guests were in their seats, Daisosho entered the room and greeted them, and then they were served Urasenke's special News Year's confection, Hishihanabira, delivered that morning from Kyoto.

The guests who shared the first bowl of koicha that Iemoto Zabosai prepared on the first day at the Tokyo Branch were Japan's Former Prime Minister FUKUDA Yasuo and his wife, FUKUDA Kiyoko; Former Prime Minister MORI Yoshiro; Former Prime Minister HATOYAMA Yukio; and Former Minister for Foreign Affairs KOMURA Masahiko, whose wife, Haruko, sat next in line and was the first to drink from the second bowl. Among the other distinguished guests at the first seating, there were Japan's Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, HAYASHI Yoshimasa; Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare, KATO Katsunobu; Minister of the Environment, NAKAGAWA Masaharu; and many members of the upper and lower houses of the Japanese Diet, Urasenke elders, and others.

SEN Takafumi place the first bowl of koicha out to Former Prime Minister FUKUDA Yasuo. The distinguished guests seated down the row following those seen in the photo at the left.

At the end of the koicha service at the first seating at the Urasenke Tokyo Branch, the men of the head family enter as a group to greet the guests.

The ladies of the head family welcome the guests to the venue for sake and felicitous New Year's foods.

Incense container made by Eiraku Zengoro XVII for this year, a Year of the Dog, and used as a decoration in the room where usucha was served both at the Hatsugama-shiki in Kyoto and in Tokyo.