Miyamoto Musashi, Japan’s greatest samurai’s 21 Rules to Live by:
1. Accept everything just the way it is.
2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
5. Be detached from desire your whole life long.
6. Do not regret what you have done.
7. Never be jealous.
8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.
10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
11. In all things have no preferences.
12. Be indifferent to where you live.
13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
17. Do not fear death.
18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honour.
21. Never stray from the Way.”
~ Miyamoto Musashi
Japanese Culture Profile:
Shōkadō bentō (松花堂弁当) —>The traditional lunch box covered with a lid, that originates from the Early Edo Period. It is named after Shōkadō Shōjō (松花堂昭乗, 1584-1639), a monk, calligrapher, tea ceremony master and poet. He used divided boxes to carry and organize materials needed for calligraphy, and eventually also used them to carry his lunch. This style of a black or red lacquered wooden or plastic box is now commonly used to present bento meals in restaurants. These lunchboxes were originally made for storing tobacco and paints.
What is the tea ceremony?
The tea ceremony involves preparing powdered tea for guests according to custom and enjoying its austere taste quietly and serenely. Influenced by Zen Buddhism, the tea ceremony seeks to purify the mind and attain oneness with nature.
The ceremonial serving of tea used to be exclusively practiced by nobles and priests who gave it its original form around the middle of the fourteenth century. Its popularity gradually spread to wealthy merchants, warlords during the era of civil warfare (in the 15th and 16th centuries), and their retainers.
The tea ceremony has been modified in many ways over the years. Until the end of the Edo period (1603-1867) it was practiced almost entirely by men; women joined in only after the beginning of the Meiji era (1868-1912).
There are many schools of tea ceremony, including the three Senke schools of Ura, Omote, and Mushanokoji. They all uphold the spirit of the ceremony while observing their own distinctive styles of preparing and serving tea.
#JapaneseCulture #TeaCeremony #ZenBuddhism
Written originally in 2014:
Yesterday (Sunday) I decided to jump on the metro and head into Washington DC and go to a museum. It is one of my favorite activities when I have the time after all. I am so lucky to be living in an area with so many high-caliber museums and even luckier that the vast majority of them are free. Having just moved to the area it is definitely something I am not used to and have been taking advantage of whenever I’ve had the opportunity. I glanced on the internet to check what temporary exhibitions were going on and my choice was simple as I settled upon the Freer / Sackler Museums of Asian art. After my morning coffee, a short walk, forty-five minutes of Zazen and a blueberry-banana smoothie I was ready to go.
I grabbed my copy of The Three Pillars of Zen that I have been re-reading and headed to the metro. I was rather excited to get to the museums as there were several exhibits that were ending today. Sorry folks if you are interested in them you won’t be able to see them. Among those exhibitions was one “Chigusa and the Art of Tea,” I was particularly interested in. If you are wondering what Chigusa is then join the club because I had no clue. Turned out it was, “a utilitarian piece, a large stoneware jar made in southern China in the 13th or 14th century and exported to Japan for use as a commercial container” (Smithsonian Institution).
My interest was piqued for sure and I grabbed my seat on the metro and heading into town. I have for a long time had an interest in asia and their affinity and significance they hold in tea with the Japanese Tea Ceremony in particular. This exhibit would have Japanese, Chinese and Korean tea artifacts as well as Chigusa of course.
I wouldn’t say the exhibition disappointed, but it was a lot smaller than I expected. I learned some interesting and valuable information such as “This mill for grinding tea leaves into fine powder is made of black granite from the Kamo River, which flows through Kyoto. The leaves are added from the opening in the top, and the powder emerges from between the stones, accumulating in the trough. It takes about an hour to grind enough tea for a bowl of “thick tea,” which is shared by all the guests, typically two or three people” (Smithsonian Institution).
Truth be known I don’t usually get all that excited about pottery or ceramics. I appreciate them and their historical significance, but usually my interest begins to mane after about half an hour. I spent a good hour examining the artifacts in this collection as other people at the museum came and went. I found the a tea caddy named Ueda Bunrin especially beautiful.
Birds and Flowers of the Four Seasons: Autumn and Winter
late 15th-early 16th century
Sesshu Toyo , (Japanese, 1420-1506)
Ink, and color on paper
H: 178.3 W: 375.7 cm
After a period of travel and study in China in from 1467 to 1469, the Zen Buddhist monk and painter Sesshu returned to Japan. Recognized during his stay in China as a gifted artist, Sesshu directed his experience and skills toward creating a distinctive new Japanese interpretation of Chinese artistic traditions. In the pair of screens, he follows the Japanese convention of creating a landscape with a seasonal progression from spring at the far right to winter at the far left. The focus on birds and flowers, however, derives from a traditional subject of Chinese painting.
Sesshu’s painting style also reflects Chinese sources in its emphasis on three-dimensional form and observation of the natural world. His interest in dramatic compositions emphasizing spatial depth can be seen in the large, gnarled branch in the foreground of the screen at left, which disappears into water and reemerges to frame a view of the distant, snow-covered mountains. Precise control of ink tones and brush technique, which Sesshu learned from his study of Chinese painting, enhance the expressive quality of this image.
Source: Smithsonian Institution – Freer Museum of Asian Art Collection