Yae wrapped in Western clothing, photographed on November 3rd, the 21st year of Meiji. It was her birthday.

The Tea of Neesima Yae and Urasenke (Pt. 1)
by HIROSE Chisako, Professor at Doshisha Women’s College

The main character of the 2013 NHK Taiga Drama, NEESIMA Yae, was born in Aidzu during the Bakumatsu period. Her lord’s House fell into the predicament of the Boshin War, so as a women she joined the front lines of the battle, fighting with her own gun that she carried. Also, after moving to Kyoto, as the wife of NEESIMA Jou who helped found Doshisha, she exerted herself as a volunteer nurse during the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese Wars. Futhermore, Yae had one more face, that as a student of Urasenke Tea Ceremony.

The chajin Neeshima Souchiku (Yae’s tea name), who put on the kettle nearly every week at her teahouse which Ennousai christened Jakuchuu-an [Hermitage in the Midst of Tranquility], was a pioneer for today’s female chajin, and had left many footsteps for us to follow in. In this months edition, let us introduce the Tea of Neesima Yae, who lived through the Bakumatsu all the way until the Showa period, along with the Tea of Urasenke during that time.

The mascot character "Yae-san" of Doshisha College.

The mascot character “Yae-san” of Doshisha College.

Many people know that Neeshima Yae (1845-1931) was the wife of Neesima Jou, the founder of Doshisha. But that she was the younger sister of YAMAMOTO Kakuma who worked as an advisor to the Kyoto Government on the modernization of Kyoto during the Meiji Restoration, less people realize. Yae, who happened to meet Neesima Jou (1943-90) through her brother Kakuma, along with people studying under Neesima Jou, were bound by fate with Urasenke. The ancestrial home of siblings Kakuma and Yae was Aidzu-han, the influential province in Tohoku, where they served for generations the House of YAMAMOTO, who were artillery instructors. Aidzu having allied with the shogunate and feeling the shame of defeat after the Boshin War, there was no encounter invited by the agitation of the Bakumatsu/Restoration period more unexpected than fate which led Yae to meet people in Kyoto. Truly, the union of Time, Place, People was a blessing bestowed upon Yae.

廣瀬千紗子 同志社女子大学教授