茶の湯 in サンフランシスコ ・ Japanese Tea Ceremony を San Franciscoで

表千家四方社中の茶の湯ブログ Japanese Tea Ceremony Blog for Shikata Shachu – Omotesenke

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November 24 was a U.S. holiday known as “Thanksgiving.”  What are you thanksful for?  We have many things – big and small – to be thankful for.

このお 軸はお茶室定番の「日々是好日」、大徳寺黄梅院小林太玄和尚のお筆です。「今日も明日も毎日良い日」などと「Don’t Worry, Be Happy」という古い歌のような感覚かと思っていましたが、実はもっと奥がふかいんですね。たとえどんなことがあってもその日その日はまた二度とない一 日であるから、全身全霊を傾けて一日一日を大切に生きなければいけない、という教えなのだそうです。

This scroll is a staple in tea rooms: “Nichi-Nichi-Kore-Kounichi” (or alternatively, “Hibi-Kore-Kounichi“) by Rev. Taigen Kobayashi of Koubai-in at the Da’itokuji temple.  I used to think that it simply meant something like: “Everyday is a good day” or “Don’t worry, be happy” (as sung in an old song).  Wrong.  It has a lot deeper meaning.  Each day, regardless what happens – good or bad, is a day that will never be repeated.  It happens only once.  You have to live each day with all your heart and all your soul.  That’s the real meaning.


This scroll reminds me of a friend who unexpectedly passed away a few years ago.  He went to sleep one day, and did not wake up.  I am thankful for each day as a gift.




Originally published November 28, 2016


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丸三角四角・The Universe


元は仙厓義梵(せんがいぎぼん、1750-1837)という江戸時代の臨済宗禅僧が「禅の極意」を表すため描いた絵なのだそうです。鈴木大拙が無題の絵を見て「The Universe 」と英訳したそうです。

Originally these figures were depicted by a Rinza’i Zen priest, Gibon Senga’i, to express the “true meaning of Zen.”  Da’isetsu Suzuki, looking at this untitled drawing, called it “The Universe” when translating Gibon’s works into English.


Two lines do not form a shape.  A triangle is the most basic shape.  With two triangles, a square is formed.  Forms are multiplied and ultimately reach a circle.



Thus, this passage from the Heart Sutra, “form does not differ from emptiness,” means there is no difference between “□Δ” and “○”.  “Emptiness,” however, does not mean “nothingness”; rather, it means “infinity.”  Forms (finite) can lead to emptiness (infinity).


Isamu Noguchi adapted the “circle, triangle, square” to create tsukubai.









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四海波静・Peaceful Four Oceans

Dry sweets tray

山中塗前端雅峰作・而妙斎宗匠花押入り – 北加支部40周年記念品 (2010)
Yamanaka lacquer ware by Gaho Maehata with the current 14th Grand Master’s (Jimyo’u-sa’i) signature (Kao’u)
– Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Northern California Region in 2010


「四海波静」(shikai nami shizuka), which literally means: “The waves are calm in four seas.”  What it means to say is that the world is under harmonious governance and in peace.  These words are also especially poignant for Americans of Japanese descent.


Chanting that begins with “Oh, Takasago!” (Takasago ya!) is one of perennial favorites as a celebratory song at weddings.  In the Noh play “Takasago” there is also a stanza that begins with “Shikai nami shizuka.


四海の波は静かで、天下泰平の御代である。めでたい相生の松のように皆が仲良く暮らせるのは、 ひとえに帝のすばらしい御治世のおかげである。我らにとって、わが君の深い恵みは何ともありがたい。わが君の恵みのなんとありがたいことだろう。

The four oceans surrounding this land is peaceful. We live in a peaceful and stable land. It is all thanks to the wonderful reign of Emperor that we all can live harmoniously like the celebrated
Paired Pines. For us all, the generous blessings of our sovereign are truly appreciated. How grateful his blessings!




Originally published November 11, 2015