Iemoto SEN Soshitsu XVI Visits France

Iemoto Zabosai SEN Soshitsu XVI made a visit to France February 11-15, 2008, where he led a "Japanese-French Children's Friendship Exchange Tea Gathering" at the Japan Cultural Institute in Paris (Maison de la culture du Japon á Paris), and presented a chado introduction program at the National Ceramics Museum, Sèvres, as the closing event of the Satsuma ceramics exhibition that ran from November 20, 2007, to February 18 this year. These celebrated the 150th anniversary this year of diplomatic relations between France and Japan, and the 140th anniversary of the introduction of Satsuma porcelain ware at the 1867 Paris International Exposition, where it gained international acclaim. CHIN Jukan XV of the Chin Jukan Satsuma ware kiln in Kagoshima traveled to France to attend the events.

    The children's program at the Japan Cultural Institute took place the afternoon of February 13, and had approximately sixty participants, all between the ages of eight and sixteen, who had registered in advance. They were divided into three groups according to their ages, and each group in turn went around to the three "hands-on experience" rooms. In the Kojitsuan tea room (donated by Urasenke), the children watched Konnichian deputy tea master NARA Sokyu conduct usucha temae, and learned the etiquette for drinking tea. Iemoto Zabosai provided the explanations and answered questions. At the room for experiencing how to whisk a bowl of tea, KIMURA Sonosuke of the Urasenke London Branch was the chief instructor. The kitchen at the institute was used as a wagashi- (Japanese traditional confections) making classroom. OTA Toru of the wagashi shop in Kyoto called Oimatsu was the instructor.

    The program at the National Ceramics Museum took place on February 14. It was held in conjunction with the "Satsuma -- From Exoticism to Japonism" exhibition jointly organized by the museum and the Kagoshima Prefecture ad hoc executive committee for the exhibition.

    The first part consisted of a demonstration. Iemoto Zabosai prefaced it with an explanation that chanoyu is not a form of stage art, but is a form of cultural activity of Japan, a small glimpse of which would be presented in the demonstration on the stage. After the demonstration, he gave a talk entitled "The Way of Tea is a Portal Site to Japan." Among the things he touched upon was the Japanese appreciation of wabi and sabi. Finally, all those in the audience were served sweets and usucha.