I visited Katsura Rikyu (Imperial Villa) in Kyoto for the first time. When I go to Kyoto, I’m always wearing Kimono as I go there for tea ceremony lessons and/or related events, but I went there with pants and sneakers, and I was so relaxed.
From Shinkansen, I was lucky to see Mt. Fuji with a trace of snow, and enjoyed eating 3 packs of onigiri (rice ball) for my breakfast.
Meanwhile, I booked a tour of Katsura Rikyu starting from 9:00. The tour was consisting of more than 10 people with a guide. It was one hour short tour, but enjoyed it so much. There were small stone bridges and a lot of stepping stones. It was so slippery due to yesterday’s rains and so I walked carefully. Trees, grasses and moss are shining with dews, and were vivid green color. I felt so refreshed.
By the way, Katsura Rikyu was started to build about400 years ago and completed in era of Emperor Gomizuno. There were no fire accidents afterwards, and so almost all constructions have been remaining as they were, but due to flooding of Katsura River, some of them were damaged. The surrounding sceneries have been maintained by taking over neighboring fields.
In old days, guests of tea gatherings moved from a waiting hut to a tea house with a small boat, guided by moon and stone lanterns on the opposite banks. Tea rooms are not gorgeous at all, but simple, rustic and aesthetic tastes. Fusuma (sliding door) and Tokonoma (alcove) with checkered patterns and allow-style catches of Fusuma looks so modern and innovative. I’m so much impressed with those detailed works.
But it is regrettable that those tea rooms have been not used for tea gatherings for almost 200 years. Tsukubai (washing stone vasin) are not filled with water but with sands and cannot be used anymore. Though periodical renovations have been done, thedaily cleaning and care might be not enough as they have been not used.
Some old tea rooms like Urasenke and Jyukoin have been well cleaned and taken care, as routinely used. Old wood polls of those tea rooms are shining with black luster, and nicely aging, but Katsura Rikyu are not like them. I realized that tea rooms can keep its beauty when they have been nicely used for a long time.
It is said that after moving of Meiji emperor from Kyoto to Tokyo, loyal families have been away from chanoyu maybe due to active introductions of western culture and due to separation of Shintoism and Buddhism. Empress Tofukumonin and similar age people like Sotan, Shokado Shojo and Kogetsu Sogan might come to the tea gatherings at Katsura Rikyu. On my way home, walking along the Katsura River, I enjoyed imaging how those tea gatherings were performed.