What is the significance of 'Kagetsu' as a ceremony and item on keiko curriculum?

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I am often fascinated by the stories of kagetsu practice of people of different traditions than my own. The Ueda Sōko tradition does not have kagetsu as a developed ceremony or anything similar on the keiko curriculum. I know kagetsu exists in at least Urasenke and Dainihon Sadō Gakkai. I am interested in:

  1. Who created kegatsu and any related history anecdotes
  2. What is the significance of kagetsu in one’s practice
  3. What are the physical / spiritual benefits of the practice of kagetsu
  4. Personal experiences / insights from practicing kagetsu

With so much talk about kagetsu around me from Ura and Dainihon friends, it would be very interesting to gather some concrete information on this very interesting development in sadō/chadō.

  • JOHN LEON LARISSOU
    To answer some questions raised in the previous comments: Yes in Omotesenke like Urasenke the focus is on timing and smoothly preforming the tasks. This makes it difficult to do these in a mixed school environment as the details of how you move about the room differ for kagetsu between Omotesenke and Urasenke. However with a few joint practices perhaps this could be taken into account. Similarly with some of the other seven exercises there are minor differences that would require some thought to harmonize. It would be fun and a challenge to try.
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To complement the previous answer, when Omotesenke’s Josshinsai who spearheaded the development of the Shichijishiki, that is comprised of 7 types of practices, kagetsu being one of them, the aim was to have a faster way to do the okeiko when you had many students (in theory 5 people) and little time.

Shichijishiki is supposed to be an exercise for okeiko purposes (ojigi, okashi, etc are all done in the mizuya before entering the chashitsu), while the ‘game’ aspect of it is that you flip a fuda (a bamboo token) and then you find out what role you will play in the course of the temae, or what what role you will play in the procedure – e.g. Saza no shiki: there’s someone in charge of the chabana, someone in charge of the Kô (incense), someone in charge of the sumi, one for the tea and a hantô – the ultimate goal is having an okeiko by kengaku (observation) when you learn/practice that particular procedure performed by one person.

Kagetsu at its simplest mode, i.e. hira kagetsu, all 5 practitioners rotate and all 5 drink tea. Usually, if done with people who have some experience, a hira kagetsu can be finished in 30 minutes. Then you can add other elements to the kagetsu, e.g. koicha tsuki kagetsu, sumi tsuki kagetsu, even a tsubo kazari tsuki kagetsu etc…

In Urasenke – and I think it applies to Omotesenke, one of the most important parts of kagetsu or other procedures of the shichijishiki is your ability to reach a harmonious timing with the other 4 colleagues, even if performing the temae correctly itself is important, the timing of preparing the tea, serving, drinking, getting up and changing seats (who’s the shokyaku, jikyaku, and so forth changes during the temae), going to the temaeza, requires you to master how to one perceive the flow of the procedure attentively, and how to move inside the chashitsu in a very synchronized way along your peers.

Indeed, echoing Marius, shichijishiki should not be done outside of an okeiko environment, unless you know well the other peers, since all must be at the same level of experience/knowledge of such temae or procedure. This in Urasenke though does not prevent that someone watches a kagetsu, for example, but you don’t invite guests for a ochakai and have a shichijishiki procedure.

 

  • Adam Sōmu
    Fantastic answer, Fukada-san. Thank you very, very much. That enlightens me thoroughly. What a fantastic idea. I’d love to participate in a cross-School version of kagetsu and see what happens! The extra improvisation needed to integrate subtle differences would be extremely good for discussion after the keiko.
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Shichiji shiki were created in 1747 by the combined effort of Joshinsai, Itto and the abbot of Mugaku Soen of Daitokuji. Supposedly it took 10 years to develop them. Hira Kagetsu is the simplest of these tea games.

My understanding is that it was created as a practice tool to keep all the participants of a session focused on what was happening, but that it over time have developed to a game. I have the sense that you could invite four guests to do kagetsu outside of okeiko, but I have no personal experience with this.

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Just to add a few comments.

Joshinsai was the seventh Iemoto of Omotesenke but his two younger brothers became Iemotos of Urasenke. In Omotesenke there is just one kind of kagetsu which differs from Urasenke practice. Since all the shichishiseki are practice exercises they need to be thought of in that light. Kagetsu is perhaps the most difficult to master which has given it a special place in many tea practices.

In my experience kagetsu has been practiced with the intend of mastering it as one would do any puzzle so it is the challenge that attracts. I have never experienced practicing it or any of the seven exercises with any shall we say “Zen intent”. I have practiced kagetsu in Japan and USA.

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