Sunday, July 13, 2014

Don’t give up your day job …

I believe anyone who pursued bonsai as a hobby, at some point asked oneself: “What if it was my job?” To many of us it’s a rhetorical question with a regretful aftertaste. However, I recently read something that softened my regret.

It was a collection of anecdotes about practitioners of the tea ceremony (Cha-no-yu) in the 17th century Japan. I should explain that, a lot of them were professional soldiers and Cha-no-yu was their pastime. However, some of them got so involved in it, that it was detrimental to their career and family (Cha-no-yu was and still is a very expensive hobby).

Anyway, one of the stories was about Hosokawa Tadaoki, a prominent military commander and a renowned Tea Master. After his retirement, he was a highly sought teacher of Cha-no-yu as he was the only remaining disciple of Sen no Rikyu. He often urged his samurai students:

You must remember that it is your military prowess that has obtained your fiefs and honors. Do not then neglect your main business. It may be well enough to occupy any spare time you may have with Cha-no-yu, but never let a diversion take the place of the work of life.”

He knew that he was able to learn Cha-no-yu from the best and become a master himself only because he served as a soldier till the shōgun allowed him to retire. Somehow, this quote made me feel more respectful of my day-time occupation.

This story also has a connection to bonsai. Hosokawa Tadaoki was a close associate of shōgun Tokugawa Iemitsu, the one ruler of Japan who was crazy about bonsai (for more info see:

Was it enough talk about Cha-no-yu for one post? Not yet. I’d like to show here some ‘non-bonsai-pot’ things I make out of clay. Image on the left shows an Ido style raku tea bowl and the one on the right shows a wood-fired katatsuki type tea caddy. No matter where and how someone drinks tea, one has got to have a cup and a container for the tea leaves.

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