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Unformatted text preview: -scented village. Sòchò: In the river breeze
The willow trees are clustered.
Spring is appearing. Sògi: The sound of a boat being poled
Clear in the clear morning light. Shòhaku: The moon! does it still
Over fog-enshrouded fields
Linger in the sky? Sòchò: Meadows carpeted in frost—
Autumn has drawn to a close.31 These poets have skillfully constructed their verses to provide flow and
continuity from one link to another by the use of various associative
devices: when Sògi, for example, mentions spring, Shòhaku uses the
vernal expression “plum-scented”; and when Shòhaku refers to the moon
(which is always associated with the fall), Sòchò promptly shifts to the
autumntime. Yet, however delightful such devices may be as employed
by the Minase masters, their use was indicative of the fact that linked
verse, like waka, was becoming excessively restricted by conventions; and
in time it too ceased to provide a means for truly creative expression.
One of the finest cultural achievements of the medieval age was the
tea ceremony (chanoyu). So far as we know, tea was first brought to Japan
from China by Buddhist priests in the early ninth century—that is, at
the beginning of the Heian period. Tea drinking, which had been elevated to a cultured pastime in China during the T’ang dynasty, became
popular at the Japanese court in Kyoto as part of the general enthusiasm
in that age for all things Chinese. The drinking of tea also found a place
in Buddhist temples, where it was incorporated into various religious
rituals. But after the long period of cultural borrowing from China that
had begun in the late sixth century came to an end in the mid-ninth century, tea drinking gradually declined and may even have died out in
Tea was reintroduced to Japan from China in the late twelfth century,
about the time of the founding of the Kamakura shogunate, by the Zen
priest Eisai (also pronounced Yòsai; 1141–1215), founder of the Rinzai The Canons of Medieval Taste 125 sect of Zen. Following the lead of Chinese devotees of tea, Eisai extolled
the beverage’s me...
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- Spring '13