Tea Ceremony and Fortunetelling:
Fortunetelling and the Brazier (Part 1)
by Souchuu Sekine

The Brazier and May

In chanoyu, we divide one year into two seasons. This is, needless to say at this late of time, the brazier and hearth periods. The period of the brazier is from May to October; the hearth is from November to April of the following year. At the age of 20 and a university student, I was a beginner in Urasenke chanoyu. At that time, the matter of changing the brazier from May, changing the hearth in October was mysterious, I thought. May was yet late Spring, not Summer. November was late Autumn, not Winter. It was because I thought that this seasonal viewpoint was indeed half-baked. However, I admitted we (write) “Early spring season” without any sort of doubt in the greeting of our letters etc. when it becomes May.

Like I fully explained about “Early Spring” as an example in the February edition of this magazine, the reason is not the Japanese use one or the other of the old and new calendar; They are using (both) with a skillful mixing. Whether Chinese New Year is celebrated in February is considered; and in July on the New Calendar there is Obon. Also, while January on the New Calendar is not Early Spring, we put out New Year Cards with “I lift up congratulations of early Spring”; We celebrate Obon at the time of the lunar Obon in August. Among things like the Doll Festival in March or April, the water ceremony of Todai-ji Temple, formally called the Shuni-e and that is a February event to greet early Spring, is seriously conducted in March.

There is this sort of Japan and Japanese. As for the seasonal viewpoint of chanoyu, for fortunetelling, the foundational old calendar is the base.

Summer starts from May, which in order to understand is early summer on the chart on the top of the next page, and we change to the brazier. The coming of Summer is formally from Rikka (this year’s May 5th). There is the elementary school song, “Even Summer draws near on the 88th day…” which is the time of May 2nd. Because it is not yet summer, “Even Summer draws near…” is sung. As for the calendar, it is written about Rikka that “the spirit of Summer stands next to the spirit of the feeling of yang of the universe”, until Risshu “All creation is teeming, plants and branches growing thickly, great and full” and so on and in regards to this seasonal viewpoint it is in the same way as yang tends to grasp. As in the lower chart, until November the yin yao : is the period that comes and grows from the bottom, applying the seasons which shift from yang to yin.

These seasons which shift from yang to yin are Summer and Autumn; the half year from May to October becomes the period for the brazier. November’s trigram on this chart is the trigram of the return of Spring (the long-awaited, favorable turn of fortune). It is called the tea master’s New Year’s. I want to explain about this matter in this Autumn’s edition.