So'oku dressed formally for the special day. (©Kyoto News)
On June 14, 2003, So'oku underwent a ceremony to be officially recognized as a tea-master-to-be. In the three Sen families that are descended from Sen no Rikyu, the successors, when they have decided to dedicate their lives to chado, traditionally go through a ceremony called tokudo at the temple Daitokuji in Kyoto and receive a saigo. This signifies that chado tea masters set themselves apart from the everyday world and polish their chado skills through Buddhist training.
It is an important event for So'oku in his tea career. (©Mushakouji Senke)
So'oku ritually offers the tea he has prepared. (©Mushakouji Senke)
At the tokudo ceremony, about 250 people connected with So'oku witnessed his once-in-a-lifetime ritual. Dressed in white traditional clothes called montsuki hakama, So'oku made his pledge to embrace Buddhism, and a ceremony for him to become a Buddhist apprentice was held. As proof of this, So'oku was given the saigo of Zuiensai. While prayers were being chanted, So'oku paid his respects to the altars dedicated to Daitokokushi, who built Daitokuji, and Sen no Rikyu. After that, he prepared two servings of tea and offered them to each of the altars. The entire ceremony ended successfully in two hours.
From this day forward, So'oku will become publicly active as the successor to the current tea master.