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Grand Master: Iemoto

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Chapter Summary

This chapter introduces the grand master system, iemoto seidō. The figure of the iemoto is seen to be present in flower arranging, the comic story-telling tradition of rakugo, and the Japanese dance form of nihon buyō. The Kawabata Yasunari novel, Thousand Cranes, is examined in the light of the Kawabata comment that it was intended to critique the excesses of Japanese tea culture. The iemoto seidō is a device that sustains the transmission of a variety of Japanese cultural practices. The chapter discusses grand master tea instruction and tea films explore, the tea-room was one venue where the distinction between spiritual and political values became ambiguous. It also addresses the tension between a hierarchy of aesthetic and spiritual values and the value of hierarchy in how the Way of Tea was represented in Japanese literature of the 1950s.

Keywords: iemoto seidō; comic story-telling tradition; grand master system; Japanese dance; Japanese tea culture; Kawabata Yasunari novel; nihon buyō; rakugo; Thousand Cranes



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