We introduce Takeo Shaowo, who succeeded Sen no Rikyu in the perfection of "Wabicha," the art of tea ceremony that began with Murata Juko.

About Takeno Joo

Takeno Joo (1502 -1555) was born in Yamato (now Nara Prefecture), Japan, and began living in Kyoto in his 20s. At 27 years old, he studied classics and waka poetry under Sanjonishi Sanetaka, the most significant cultural figure of his time.

At 31, he moved from Kyoto, devastated by the Onin War, to Sakai, where he was ordained as a monk, received the Buddhist name of "Joo," and devoted himself to the tea ceremony, pursuing the path of "Wabicha."

Murata Juko's goal of "Wabicha"

Joo was a grandson of Murata JukoThe "Wabicha" discovered by Murata Juko was further refined by Joo and perfected by Sen no Rikyu, a disciple of Joo.

By learning the words left by Joo, we can understand the source of the "Wabicha" that Joo aimed for.

Words about "THINGS"

Juko left the following: "It is important to muddle through the boundary between the Japanese and Chinese arts." In contrast to the trend that favored only Chinese ceramics, he insisted that it was essential to pay attention to the simple beauty of Japanese ceramics and brought a new aesthetic sense to the world of the tea ceremony.

The tea utensils left by Juko are called "Juko Meibutu," and there is an anecdote that Sen no Rikyu used one of his tea bowls.

The phrase "I do not like the moon to be hidden among the clouds (the moon that appears and disappears among the clouds is more elegant than a full moon that shines brightly)" reveals the "new chanoyu," which appreciates the beauty of "beauty of lack." This aesthetic sense also influenced the creation of the tea room. Juko aimed to create beauty by dividing the room into four-and-a-half tatami mats and eliminating decoration.

Words about "mind and spirit"

Influenced by Zen, Juko pursued the "beauty that appears when things are eliminated to the utmost limit." He sought to make up for what he lacked in material things with the richness of his heart.

Juko emphasized the "heart and spirit" of chanoyu, and he believed that the greatest obstacle to the way of the tea ceremony was "pride and attachment to oneself." He taught that no matter how much one progresses, one should be honest with others and help beginners in their training.

In the following passage, Juko writes to his disciples, "Do not let your mind be your teacher." It means, "Be the master of your mind but do not let your mind be your teacher." Juko aimed to make chanoyu a "place for spiritual practice," where one could control one's mind and confront oneself.

"Wabicha" by Takeno Joo

Joo inherited the tradition from Murata Juko and introduced more spirituality into "Wabicha." We want to introduce two people who influenced him.

Sanjonishi Sanetaka, a cultural figure

Learning renga and waka poetry from Sanjonishi Sanetaka, one of his time's most significant cultural figures, greatly influenced Joo's "Wabicha."

Joo said, "I say that renga is withered and cold. I want the end of the tea ceremony to be like that." This means that the concept of "cold and withering" in renga is the heart of facing the tea ceremony. "cold and withering" means "the chilly air of early winter when the trees are dying. Or the fresh and dignified feeling one gets there." Joo aimed to approach the tea ceremony with such a mind.

Another poem that expresses the state of mind that Joo aimed for is found in a waka poem. It is "Miwatashiwa, hana mo momiji mo nakari keri ura no tomaya no autumn dusk" by Fujiwara no Sadaie. The concept of beauty in this scene leads to the idea of "wabicha," "to be content with what is not enough and to act with modesty."

Zen monk Dairin Sōto

By learning Zen from the Zen monk Dairin Sōto at Nansōji Temple, Soto combined the tea ceremony's spirit with the Zen spirit more than ever before. This led Sen no Rikyu to perfect the concept of "Chazenichimi." It means "Tea and Zen are different in the appearance of what they do, but they are not separate in their essence, and both are paths of human development."

The tea ceremony was linked to Zen by Murata Juko amid a sense of impermanence during the Warring States period. Furthermore, Takeno Joo refined the tea ceremony together with the essence of waka and renga, moving toward the Zen spirit of "essentially nothingness (everything is empty, so one should not be bound by anything)," leading to the perfection of "wabicha" by Sen no Rikyu.

January 08, 2023