Ever since Sanada Masanobu took over as the new Daimyo, his life has always been surrounded by battles which they usually emerged as victorious.
“Let’s go home.” He said to his fellow high-rank samurais.
Their arrival back to Sakai, a village in Osaka, was cheerfully welcomed by the villagers. They bowed and made way as Sanada and his army of samurais strutted through the village, heading back to his residence.
“Sanada-dono.” A voice echoed from the side. He halted and turned around. He took off his battle helmet.
“Rikyuu!” he shouted his name across, and smiled. The guy, dressed in decent greyish yutaka, bowed slightly.
“I’ve heard the good news and waited for you here.” Sanada climbed down from his horse and walked towards Rikyuu.
“Thank you. Let’s talk as we walk.” His smile didn’t seem to cease. He was truly happy of his presence.
“Rikyuu, I’ve brought back some of my trusted men to experience your tea ceremony.
You know, I’ve been boasting about how you are the best tea master we have right now.”
“Sanada-dono, I’m flattered. Everything else can wait. Now, I’m personally inviting you to my Tea House. You’ve been away for quite some time. You probably need it the most right now.”
Sanada smiled widely. As always, Rikyuu manage to read his thoughts.
Masahiro, Sanada’s son bowed slightly as he welcomed his father at the entrance. He patted his shoulder.
Masahiro noticed Rikyuu’s presence and his expression changed. He knew he’s someone of importance but he could not understand the bond between Rikyuu and his father. How could someone of different stature be close and share everything together?
“Rikyuu, can my son join the tea ceremony too?”
He nodded slightly. “Sure, if he’s willing to.” Masahiro did a quick glance.
“He’s growing up. He’ll need to be exposed to such things.”
Rikyuu bowed his head down slightly. “Then, I’ll be waiting for your arrival at the tea house. I’ll excuse myself first.”
Dressed in simple yutaka, they were about to head out to the tea house just few meters away from their residence.
Sanada built a small tea house for Rikyuu as a gift for his contributions few years ago. While anyone could ask for treasures or lands, Rikyuu was an exception.
“Do we need to go?” asked Masahiro.
“He’s my friend, a confidante. Furthermore, it’s time for you to know about tea ceremony. You do now how important tea ceremonies are to people like us, right?”
Tea ceremony are vital to feudal lords and high-ranking officials as it defines status symbol.
In addition, it also acts as a political tool.
“I know that, Father. It just that it is weird to see people have such high respect for a mere tea master. For years, I’ve seen many generals maintaining good relationship with him.”
“Because he lives up to his name.”
Sanada shared the first time he saw Rikyuu during a tea ceremony.
“He was a bright man, full of smiles. I recalled he was still serving his tea master back then. A group of generals, including me, were invited after a series of successful battles.”
It was Rikyuu who served them the tea on that very day and never he expected what he would be witnessing after that.
“Never I knew that was his first tea serving experience. He definitely looked quite nervous. Then, it happened. He dropped the Chashaku several times.
As he tried to place the Chasen back into position, it dropped and rolled towards one of the generals.”
Sanada recalled the tiny laughter he heard from the background. The generals were distracted, Rikyuu’s juniors were laughing at the back because of his foolish antics. However, Sanada could not take his eyes off him.
“In life, we all wish to strive for perfection but that day, Rikyuu taught me otherwise. He showed me that even through imperfections, I’m still able to appreciate the beauty as a whole.”
As a growing adult, Masahiro seemed to understand his point.
“I was at my lowest when my father died and Sakai instantly fell under control of Kitagawa. I felt I lost all hope. He was the leader everyone depended on meanwhile back then I was around your age with no battle experience and a foolish kid.”
He remembered the night of his father’s demise, Rikyuu visited him at his residence.
“Don’t resist the fate that has been set. Life is all about accepting whatever that comes to us. Honor your country just like how your father sacrificed his life for his people.”
“It was his words that I came to realize the purpose and what I wish to accomplish, not only for myself, but for my country.”
Sanada and his son arrived at his tea house. Masahiro glanced around and noticed how tiny the house was, surrounded by trees and rustic rocks. There were few bonzai trees decorated in the gardens. Somehow, there’s sense of serenity enveloped him.
Before entering the premise, they washed their hands as a symbol of purification from worldly things. One believes that it signifies cleansing one’s heart and mind.
They took a seat at the small area with an opened window facing the gardens Masahiro saw earlier. Soon after, Rikyuu appeared and began the tea preparations.
Silence filled the empty room,< with no furniture, just 3 of them sitting facing each other.
Then, something caught Masahiro’s attention. As Rikyuu was whisking the tea in the bowl, he noticed the bowl’s design was rather peculiar. His eyes widened in amazement as he realized it was uneven and imperfect.
Rikyuu put the bowl in front of Sanada. He took and turned it twice before sipping the tea.
Then, he wiped the rim before offering it to Masahiro. He repeated the same movements.
The process of sipping tea ended faster than expected. They waited for Rikyuu outside the tea house.
“How was it?” Sanada asked his son. He thought it was not bad for first time.
“He’s still quite distracted but he will do better after few more practices.” Rikyuu remarked as he approached them.
“Sanada-dono, I’ll formally send out invites to your generals for the next tea ceremony. Also, upon your request, I’ve made some exquisite tea utensils as gifts for their hard work.”
“Call Rikyuu in.” he asked one of his men.
“What can I do for you, Sanada-dono?” His head drooped low, not looking at Rikyuu in the face.
“Rikyuu, can I request a favor from you?”
Masahiro walked through the streets, hoping he could feel better taking a walk outside his house. He looked around and noticed the expressions on the villagers’ faces.
Women talking to each other, men carrying sacks, unloading goods from carts, children playing catching, somehow watching these moments felt so satisfying.
It was one of his father’s wishes, which was to bring back that happiness and glory this village once had. Now, he stood watching the result of his father’s hard work and sacrifices actually paid off.
“Father, what is your ultimate objective in life?”
“To unify our country, my son.”
The question he once asked when Sanada brought him to the top of the mountain, where they were able to enjoy the vast view of the entire village.
“I know you would be here.” He said with a tiny smile. He instantly recognized that voice. Rikyuu managed to find him there.
Both of them continued to admire the amazing scenery.
“You know, I grew up watching my father constantly out on battles. He spent less time with me and my siblings. Sometimes, I thought maybe he doesn’t care much about me but nevertheless I still respect him as a father.”
Rikyuu quietly listened.
“He told me about his dream. Back then, I was a kid and I didn’t understand fully his intentions. Yet, today as I walked through the streets, I felt I came to understand what he meant. The time he sacrificed with his family, he invested all of it for his country and make sure it was worthwhile and that I admit I am truly proud of him.”
“There are times where sacrifices are needed for greater good, Masahiro, I think your father will be happy to know you have finally understood him, being as a father or as the leader.” Rikyuu told him.
“And I wish to live up to his legacy.” Masahiro turned and looked at him.
Rikyuu stared at him for a moment before he nodded slightly.
“I’m always here to provide assistance, in case you need one.” Both of them smiled as they gazed at the view once more.