|Konnichian Heisei Chashitsu Chofu-no-ma alcove decorations|
|The Urasenke head family's 2019 Hatsugama-shiki, or formal tea gathering celebrating the arrival of the New Year — the 31st year of the Heisei era — took place at the family's homestead in Kyoto, Konnichian, over the six days of January 7-12, during which the family received approximately 2,200 Urasenke teachers, patrons, and others mainly from western Japan, and at the Urasenke Tokyo Branch over the four days of January 16-19, during which they received approximately 2,300 such invited guests mainly from eastern Japan.|
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. The alcove was decorated with the felicitous items which have generally characterized the family's annual Hatsugama-shiki. The central item was the family's heirloom scroll featuring auspicious kaishi poem by Emperor Ogimachi (r. 1557-86), translatable as "From the two-needled seedling, the passing of many springs makes the pine the evergreen tree of our world." The container for the flowers was the heirloom copy of the slender double-window bamboo "Rikyu Hashinobo" bearing the signature of Senso Soshitsu (1622-97), the 4th generation ancestor in the Urasenke family line. As per tradition, it held a camellia and a sprig of a Japanese variety of honeysuckle known as Uguisukagura, the name of which translates as "Bush Warbler's Sacred Music and Dance." The symbolic New Year's musubiyanagi looped willow branches hung down from the upper rear corner, and, on the alcove floor, there was the traditional antique Shinto bell instrument with colorful streamers, on a red-lacquered stand.|
At the first seating on the first day, the top five guests, who would share the first bowl of koicha prepared by Iemoto Zabosai, were Omotesenke Iemoto Yuyusai SEN Sosa, Mushakojisenke Iemoto Futessai SEN Soshu, Kyoto Governor NISHIWAKI Takatoshi, 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.
First of all, the guests were served Hishihanabira, Urasenke's special New Year's confection since the era of Gengensai, the 11th generation in the Urasenke family line. Iemoto Zabosai then made his entrance, and prepared the koicha which would be shared by the first five guests. His son, SEN Takafumi, acted in conveying it to the first guest, Omotesenke Iemoto Yuyusai, who was sitting in this seat at the Urasenke Konnichian Hatsugama-shiki for the first time, having had succeeded his father, Jimyosai, as the 15th Omotesenke Iemoto in February the previous year.
|SEN Takafumi conveys the koicha to the first guest at the first seating, Omotesenke Iemoto Yuyusai|
At this and most of the seatings throughout the Hatsugama-shiki both in Kyoto and Tokyo, Takafumi acted as hanto (host's assistant), conveying the tea and other items to the main guests, while IZUMI Soyo (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. 2019 is the Year of the Boar, and a common phrase describing this animals says that it headlong rushes recklessly into things. Zabosai said that, as opposed to this, the family would carefully watch its footing as it determinedly endeavored forward.
|The men of the head family come in together to greet the guests. From the right: Iemoto Zabosai, Daisosho Hounsai, SEN Takafumi, IZUMI Soyo (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.|
|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 the ladies of the Urasenke head family — SEN Masako, SAKATA Makiko, and IZUMI Hiromi.|
|From the left: SEN Masako, SAKATA Makiko, and IZUMI Hiromi|
|In the Chado Kaikan across the street from the Heisei Chashitsu, 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 spacious Totsutotsusai room at Tokyo Branch was the main room. There were fifty-seven guests at the first seating on the first day, including members of the upper and lower houses of the Japanese Diet, and Urasenke elders. Those seated in the first five seats and who shared the first bowl of koicha that Iemoto Zabosai prepared were Japan's Former Prime Minister FUKUDA Yasuo and his wife, FUKUDA Kiyoko; Former Prime Minister KAN Naoto; Minister NEMOTO Takumi of the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare; and Cabinet Member YAMAMOTO Junzo, Chairperson of the National Public Safety Commission.
|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.|
|The spacious room called the Shoho-no-ma is where the ladies of the Urasenke head family welcomed the guests for some sake (rice wine) and felicitous New Year's foods.|
|From the left: SEN Masako, SAKATA Makiko, IZUMI Hiromi, GOTO Reiko, SAKURAI Yukiko|
|The guests could also have a bowl of usucha in a large room on the second floor, served by members of the Gyoteibu (corps of Konnichian deputy tea masters).|
Altogether on the first day alone at the Urasenke Tokyo Branch Hatsugama-shiki, approximately 490 guests were received. A number of members of the foreign diplomatic corp in Tokyo were among them.