Gomei discussion

2013-02-13_10-35-51_538I have been having an extended discussion with a commenter about gomei.  See this post and the comment thread.

For the guests, learning the gomei is of particular interest and in our discussion the commenter said,


“It sounds like the choice of a seasonal name is, at least partly, also the gift of reminding the guests of a shared cultural experience. . . . Perhaps the best gomei is not only one that is seasonally approprite [sic], but also unites the host and guests in the warm feelings of a shared remembrance.”

This is a nice way of putting it and I really want to make the point that the gomei while seasonal are also allusional, that is they evoke feelings or remind people, of the seasonal moment.  The gomei themselves are a shortcut to those feelings and shared experiences.

So if you are going to use a local seasonal gomei,  make sure that everyone in the room can relate to what you are talking about and that the gomei can evoke some shared cultural or seasonal experience.  The kigo, or words that evoke the season in Japanese culture are a great reference for seasonal gomei.  You might try this link,  HAIKU KIGO Poetic Seasonal Expressions.

Another part of the discussion was about zen gomei for koicha.  I am not a Zen practioner, and I have not studied the Zen sayings, so it is difficult to come up with good koicha gomei. I tell my students to think of the tea scroll that they know.

Wa kei sei jaku – or a combination of wakei (harmony and respect)

Nichi, nichi kore ko jitsu

Ichigo, ichie

Matsu kaze

Buji kore kinin

Are some scrolls you know, so take a phrase from them.  Also:

“It pays to pay attention. When someone else offers a Zen gomei, or your teacher suggests one, write it down with notes on meaning(s) or if it was from a Zen phrase or poem. Whenever you go to chakai and they give a name, write it down. I keep a notebook of good gomei both seasonal and Zen. If you are ambitious, you might try to research them from famous utensils . I found Haku gyoku “White jewel” from a famous (meibutsu) bunrin chaire with a drip of glaze, in an exhibition catalog.”

Do you have other suggestions?   Please let’s continue the discussion in the comments.

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