Ask This of Rikyu (2013)
The Japanese film "Ask This of Rikyu" received an award for Best Artistic Contribution on Monday, at the Montreal World Film Festival in Canada. Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo plays the main character of tea master Sen no Rikyu. The story is set in the late 16th century and is based on the novel "Rikyu ni Tazuneyo", which won Japan's literary award Naoki Prize in 2009.
Here is a trailer:
A writer and poet, the tea master referred to the ware and its relationship with the tea ceremony, saying "Though you wipe your hands and brush off the dust and dirt from the vessels, what is the use of all this fuss if the heart is still impure?"
Many of the prescribed behaviors used in contemporary Japanese tea ceremony were introduced by Rikyu. Some of his contributions include:
- A tea house that can accommodate five people,
- A separate small room where tea utensils are washed, and
- Two entrances, one for the host and one for the guests
- a doorway low enough to require the guests to bend down to enter, humbling themselves in preparation for the tea ceremony
There are three iemoto (sōke), or "head houses" of the Japanese Way of Tea, that are directly descended from Rikyū: the Omotesenke, Urasenke, and Mushakōjisenke, all three of which are dedicated to passing forward the teachings of their mutual family founder, Rikyū.
It was during his later years that Rikyū began to use very tiny, rustic tea rooms referred as sōan (lit., "grass hermitage"), such as the two-tatami mat tea room named Taian, which can be seen today at Myōkian temple in Yamazaki, a suburb of Kyoto, and which is credited to his design. This tea room has been designated as a National Treasure. He also developed many implements for tea ceremony, including flower containers, teascoops, and lid rests made of bamboo, and also used everyday objects for tea ceremony, often in novel ways.
Raku teabowls were originated through his collaboration with a tile-maker named Raku Chōjirō. Rikyū had a preference for simple, rustic items made in Japan, rather than the expensive Chinese-made items that were fashionable at the time. Though not the inventor of the philosophy of wabi-sabi, which finds beauty in the very simple, Rikyū is among those most responsible for popularizing it, developing it, and incorporating it into tea ceremony. He created a new form of tea ceremony using very simple instruments and surroundings. This and his other beliefs and teachings came to be known as sōan-cha (the grass-thatched hermitage style of chanoyu), or more generally, wabi-cha. This "line" of chanoyu that his descendants and followers carried on was recognized as the Senke-ryū (千家流, "school of the house of Sen").
Sen no Rikyu films are always special and there have been many in the past.