2023 Konnichian Hatsugama-shiki
On Saturday, January 7, the Hatsugama-shiki or “Ceremonial First Tea of the Year” for the year Reiwa 5 (2023) ― a mizunotō (癸卯water, rabbit) year according to the cycle of sixty terms traditionally used to reckon time in East Asian culture ― commenced at Konnichian, the home of the Urasenke head family in Kyoto. In light of the current times, this year’s Hatsugama-shiki is being held on a reduced scale, with only the board members of related corporations and a limited number of members of the Urasenke teacher/student community invited, and with thorough measures being taken to prevent infection by COVID-19.
The “Chōfū-no-ma” room within the Heisei Chashitsu was the main venue. In its alcove hung a year-of-the-rabbit new-year’s-day poem written by Genpaku Sōtan (1578–1658) and his wife, Shingan Sōken (b.d. dates, uncertain). The other alcove decorations were their son Sensō Sōshitsu’s copy of Rikyū’s double-window bamboo flower container known as the Hashinobō, which held an Akebono (“Dawn”) camellia and sprig of Uguisukagura (“Bush Warbler’s Sacred Music and Dance”) honey-suckle, and the traditional new year’s lucky charm musubiyanagi (looped willow branches) hanging down from a tube of green bamboo. At the place for the temae, a matching set of tea-making implements (kaigu) favored by Iemoto Zabōsai rested upon on a tenchaban tea-making table. The guests who entered the room for the first seating on the opening day were Konnichian elders (rōbun) and other Urasenke-related officials.
Iemoto SEN Sōshitsu (Zabōsai) and Daisōshō SEN Genshitsu entered the room and gave their New Year’s greetings. Next, the guests were served Hishihanabira, Urasenke’s traditional New Year’s wagashi favored by the 11th Urasenke iemoto, Gengensai. Following this, Iemoto prepared koicha (thick matcha) for them, and each guest was served koicha in an individual bowl (kakufuku).
Next, KONGO Hisanori of the Kongo school of noh performed the felicitous noh chant called “Oimatsu” (Old Pine Tree).
The “Kangetsu-no-ma” on the second floor of the Heisei Chashitsu was arranged for serving the guests usucha (relatively thin matcha). The Sen family members who provided the hospitality here were Wakasōshō SEN Sōshi, Mesdames SEN Masako and IZUMI Hiromi, together with IZUMI Soyo and IZUMI Sorei. The room decorations and various tea implements were fitting for celebrating the New Year and this year of the rabbit.