In this article, I’m going to introduce TAKENO Joo, the Japanese man who took over the process of completion of Wabicha started by MURATA Juko to SEN no Rikyu.
About TAKENO Joo
TAKENO Joo (1502 -1555) was born in Yamato Province (present Nara Prefecture).
He began living in Kyoto in his twenties. At the age of 27, he began to learn about classics and Japanese poetry from SANJYONISHI Sanetaka, one of the greatest cultured men of his time.
He also learned the tea ceremony from a tea master who was the heir to the tradition of MURATA Juko.
When he was 31, he moved from Kyoto, which was devastated by the Onin War, to Sakai, Osaka.
It is said that he received the Buddhist name of “Joo”, dedicated himself to Chanoyu and pursued the path of Wabicha.
“Wabicha” aimed by MURATA Juko
Joo is a disciple of Murata Juko. Joo further refined the “Wabicha” found by his master Juko, and his disciple SEN no Rikyu completed it.
You can learn the origin of the “Wabicha” that Joo was aiming for by knowing the words of MURATA Juko.
Words related to “things”
Juko left the words, “It is vital to eliminate the sphere of Japanese and Chinese art”. In contrast to the tendency to favor only Karamono (Chinese objects), he insisted that it was important to pay attention to the simple beauty of Japanese pottery as well, and brought a new sense of beauty to the world of Chanoyu (tea ceremony).
The tea utensils left by Juko are called “Juko Specialty” and there is an anecdote that one of them was used by SEN no Rikyu.
In addition, the words, “It is better to see the moon hidden between the clouds than the shining full moon, which is more beautiful”, indicate a new type of tea ceremony that considers the beauty of lack to be good.
This sense of beauty also influenced the construction of the teahouse, and Juko aimed to create beauty that appeared by dividing the teahouse into a small space of four and a half tatami mats and eliminating decorations.
Words related to “mind and spirit”
Juko, who was influenced by Zen, pursued the beauty that emerges by eliminating objects to the extreme. He then sought to make up for the lack of things with “spiritual richness”.
With an emphasis on the “mind and spirit” of Chanoyu, Juko states that the greatest obstacle to the way of the tea ceremony is the “conceit and self-obsession” and preaches that no matter how proficient one may be, one should obediently ask others for instructions and, for beginners, help with the training.
In addition, there is a passage that Juko wrote to his disciples, “Be apart from the mind’s master, and be the master of the mind”. It means “Don’t be swayed by a changeable mind, but put yourself in a position to control it.” Juko aimed to make the tea ceremony “a place for spiritual training” where one can control one’s mind and confront oneself.
“Wabicha” by TAKENO Joo
Joo is a person who inherited the tradition of MURATA Juko and added more spirituality to “Wabicha”. Here are two people who influenced Joo.
A man of culture: SANJONISHI Sanetaka
Learning renga and waka (Japanese poetry) from SANJYONISHI Sanetaka, who was the greatest man of culture at that time, had a great influence on Joo’s “Wabicha”.
Joo stated that he wanted the concept of “chill and wither” in renga to be a mind to face the tea ceremony.
The term “chill and wither” means “the cold, chilly air of early winter when the trees die. It is a word used to describe the clean and dignified feeling you feel there.” Joo aimed to face the tea ceremony with such a heart.
There is another poem that expresses Joo’s mental state in a waka (Japanese poem) by FUJIWARA no Teika. He wrote “As autumn deepens, there is no more fun and beautiful scenery like flowers and autumn leaves in Tomaya on this beach”.
The concept of beauty in this scene leads to the concept of Wabicha “to be satisfied with one’s inadequacies and behave modestly”.
Zen monk, DAIRIN Soto
Joo learned Zen from Dairin Soto, a Zen monk of Nanshu-ji (Temple), and blended the spirit of Zen with the spirit of facing the tea ceremony more than ever before. This trend led SEN no Rikyu to perfect the concept of “Chazen-ichimi”. It means that “Tea and Zen are different in appearance, but they are not different in nature, and both are paths to human formation”.
By MURATA Juko, the tea ceremony was connected to Zen in the impermanence of the Sengoku period. In addition, TAKENO Joo refined it along with the concepts of waka and renga, moving it toward the spirit of Zen “Everything is empty, so do not be bound by anything” and completing “Wabicha” by SEN no Rikyu.
With an emphasis on the “mind and spirit” of the tea ceremony, Juko stated that the greatest obstacle to the way of Chanoyu is the “conceit and self-obsession” and preaches that no matter how proficient one may be, one should obediently ask others for instructions and, for beginners, help with the training.
In addition, there is a passage that Juko wrote to his disciples, “Be apart from the mind, and be the master of the mind”. It means “Don’t be swayed by a changeable hear, but put yourself in a position to control it. Juko aimed to make the tea ceremony “a place for spiritual training” where one can control one’s mind and confront oneself.