Sotan Memorial:In Memory of the Legacy of Sen Sotan

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November 19, 2021, the annual Sotan-ki, or “Sotan Memorial,” took place at Urasenke Konnichian, with careful anti-Covid precautions and limited attendance of approximately 200 Urasenke followers.

Sen Sotan (1578-1658), the son of Sen Shoan and third-generation descendant of Sen Rikyu, built Urasenke’s original tea rooms, including the Konnichian and the Yuin, and laid the foundations for the development of Urasenke. The annual Sotan Memorial observed at Urasenke Konnichian is one of the three major memorials that mark the calendar every year at Konnichian.

The Chofu-no-ma room in the Heisei Chashitsu served as the main room for the 2021 observance. At 9:00 A.M., Sen Genshitsu Daisosho gave an opening greeting, and with that, Iemoto Sen Soshitsu entered and solemnly conducted the chato-no-gi ritual preparation of tea for offering to Sotan. As Daisosho chanted the Buddhist “Four Universal Vows” (Shigusengan), Wakasosho Sen Soshi carried the tea to the alcove, and set it on the offering table in front of the Urasenke heirloom hanging scroll of Sotan’s portrait, and everyone present in the room bowed with hands together in gratitude for Sotan and his legacy.

Iemoto next prepared koicha thick tea for the main participants – who included Hirofumi Shimamura (Assistant Councilor, Urasenke Tankokai Federation; Vice-President, Chado Urasenke Tankokai West Chapter), seated in the top seat – for this opening event of the observance. The koicha was prepared in individual bowls, in the kakufuku-date temae style, with Iemoto employing a round tray for it. Wakasosho acted in carrying the tray to the participants, for each of them down the line to take their bowl of koicha from it.

Wakasosho sets the tea offering on the offering table.
Wakasosho gets the tray of koicha to take to the participants.

Meantime, the year’s “new tea” (shincha), packed in Urasenke’s heirloom chatsubo (storage jar for leaf-tea), was delivered by the Uji tea producer family, Kanbayashi Shunsho, in traditional style.

Following the serving of koicha, the Meiyo Shihan (Distinguished Master) title presentation ceremony was held within the Heisei Chashitsu’s main room, the Chofu-no-ma. Daisosho and Iemoto presented this high title to sixteen long-standing Urasenke teachers who have dedicated themselves to training students, and have accomplished a great deal of good in the way they’ve done so.

Preceding the chato-no-gi in the morning, members of the Gyoteibu (Konnichian corps of deputy tea masters) conducted “Hanayose-no-shiki” (a special form of group participation for putting together an array of flower offerings).

After the Meiyo Shihan title presentation ceremony, study groups directly attached to Konnichian, and Gyoteibu members, conducted Shichijishiki offerings in the Chofu-no-ma, in the presence of Iemoto.

Homa-no-shiki (Shikukai group)
Shaza-no-shiki (Shuchikukai group)
Hirakagetsu-no-shiki (Sunday Study and Sumirekai groups)
Tsubokazari-tsuki Kagetsu-no-shiki (Gyoteibu-assigned Mizuya apprentices)
Nagekomi Kagetsu-no-shiki (Gyoteibu-assigned Mizuya apprentices)

In the Kangetsu-no-ma room on the second floor of the Heisei Chashitsu, the implement ensemble that was arranged for this Sotan Memorial event was displayed.

The main venue (honseki) for the accompanying chakai was on the second floor of the Chado Kaikan just across the narrow avenue from the Heisei Chashitsu. Here, the participants were welcomed by Sen Masako, Izumi Hiromi, and other ladies of the head family, for usucha. The confection was the traditional Ginnan-mochi, a rice and sweet bean paste dumpling containing ginkgo nuts, associated with Sotan. There was also a subsidiary venue (fukuseki), in the Urasenke Gakuen school building.

Main venue for the accompanying chakai, at the Chado Kaikan.
Subsidiary chakai venue, at the Urasenke Gakuen school building.