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A Celebration of Tea: Sincerity of Heart

Posted by
GJC (Kyoto, Japan) on 16 December 2011 in People & Portrait.

This is the final image from the short series, A Celebration of Tea, which began here.

A story is told about the great tea master, Sen no Rikyū: One of his most faithful students was a very poor man. After much study and practice and with great trepidation he decided to invite the master to his own teahouse. It was an exceedingly modest affair. The poor man had only one bowl. He was so nervous that he spilled some water. His hanging scroll had been gnawed by moths. The plate for the sweets was chipped and the bamboo whisk frayed.

Several students who had accompanied Rikyū left the tea ceremony and began snickering at what they had seen. Rikyū, however, cut them off: "That was the finest tea ceremony I have ever attended."
"What?!" cried the students. "But didn't you see him spill the water, and see his tattered kimono, and that old and musty scroll? Why, sensei, such a tea ceremony is an insult to a great Master like yourself."
"No," Rikyū replied, "he put his whole heart into the tea. Tea is not an exhibition of what the tea man owns. Instead it expresses the sincerity of his heart."

In that spirit I end the series with this photo of my wife enjoying tea at home. She won't be happy to see herself broadcast around the world in a sweatshirt, but, like Rikyū's student, in these modest clothes she makes the finest tea I have ever had. 本当に感謝してます。いつもありがとうございます。

I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as have I enjoyed putting images and text together. And I hope that it will encourage you to attend a tea ceremony if you come to Japan. Guests who are not students of tea are not expected to know or to follow all the rules of those immersed in the art. The important part is just sharing tea with a sincere heart.

NIKON D300 1/60 second F/2.0 ISO 200 52 mm (35mm equiv.)

ordinaryimages from Kentucky Bluegrass, United States

Very much enjoyed the series. I'm not one for ritual and tradition...but certainly have an appreciation for a sincere heart...particularly wrapped in a sweatshirt ; ]

16 Dec 2011 5:29am

@ordinaryimages: Thanks for the kind words. I am rather fond of ritual and tradition, one of the reasons Kyoto suits me. So I am glad that some of that appreciation could come through in this series.

Manola from Bassens, France

how simple these actions! nicely highlighted ...;-)

16 Dec 2011 5:56am

Japanalia from Yokohama, Japan

I believe YOU...but...isn't it rather difficult to find a "sincere heart" nowadays?!
The entire series was a rare pleasure! Both text and photos! Thank you so much for letting us enjoy with you and your wife this old tradition. I'm sure tea ceremony is here to stay for a long, long time....

16 Dec 2011 6:55am

Nigel from Avening, United Kingdom

Super series - well done

16 Dec 2011 7:50am

@Nigel: Thank you very much. I am glad you enjoyed it.

Riccardo from Rome, Italy

Great portrait! Thanks for sharing with us!!!

16 Dec 2011 8:02am

Mirjam from Kyiv, Ukraine

Nice image and text.

16 Dec 2011 11:06am

Eric Cousineau from Sherwood Park, Canada

Congratulations on a wonderfully informative and beautiful series GJC! Tell your wife to rest easy as it is not the decorations that we adorn ourselves with that give us beauty, it is rather a calm inner presence that radiates outward that is the real beauty.....and she is radiant! ;-)

16 Dec 2011 1:33pm

Ronnie 2¢ from Atlantic Shores, United Kingdom

The whole series has been the pleasure I had anticipated . . tradition is so important.

16 Dec 2011 2:32pm

Lena from San Francisco, United States

Very nice portrait.

16 Dec 2011 5:10pm

Judy aka L@dybug from Brooksville, FL, United States

Assure your wife that we couldn't recognize her on the street, except by her beautiful hands. I adore the bowl held so lovingly in them. This image is a wonderful close for this meaningful and informative series. I have a newly gained respect for the "Celebration of Tea."
PS: Nothing warms my heart more than a gingham blouse and a cozy, well-loved sweatshirt!

16 Dec 2011 5:54pm

Steve Rice from Olympia, United States

A portrait of a sincere heart. A beautiful way to end this wonderful series.

16 Dec 2011 10:49pm

Hiro from Kyoto, Japan

Great series ! I can see Rikyu's words in this shot. Thank you.

17 Dec 2011 3:46am

Ian Smith from London, United Kingdom

Hi GJC, I've been lucky enough to get online recently, and have thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating story and your photos. Wishing you all the best in the festive period.

19 Dec 2011 5:08am

1/60 second
ISO 200
52 mm (35mm equiv.)