Houses of Sleep
Willow Woman
East West
Decline of Taste
Note on Yeats
Oscar Wilde
Again on Hokku
On Poetry
Again on Poetry
Morning Fancy
Ink Slab 




My own attitude towards the flowers is the attitude of the so-called flower-master, or, to speak more exactly, that of the tea-master, because the former is now troubled by the theories which originally came to exist as a proof of adoration as if a dew from the burst of dawn. And the latter is the art of accident, though it may sound- rather arbitrary, born from the proper setting. When I call the flower-arrangement of the tea-master the natural, I mean to emphasise the point of formalism in those of the flower-master for which the word "decorative" is merely an excuse. As you and I know well, the flowers are sufficiently decorative in nature without adding any emphasis; I think that "decorative" is one of those two or three words wrongly used in the West when applied to our Japanese art; and it is my own opinion that the true decorativeness will never be gained in any art of East or West through the point of emphasis. The real decorativeness of, for instance, Korin or Hoitsu lies, at least to our [<161] Japanese mind, in the place where he is least decorative or, let me say, most natural; the word natural for the Japanese art is verily old and new'. Now to turn to my attitude in looking at the flowers. I aim it to be natural, because my mind ever so hates to modify the beauty of the flowers; I dare say it is a new art (if I can call it so), not only to the West, but also to the East, which I gained perhaps through my perfect forgetting of the old Japanese flower art. When I cannot see the way how to explain myself, I always say: "I seethe real nature in flowers." If you say I admire the selection of the flowers, you are wrong, because I never select them as it might appear to you; my chief value as a flower adorer, or mystery, if I have any, is how, and more important, where, to leave the flowers to sing their own quiet songs in a little vase, bronze or China, upon the tokonoma.
    My mind astrays to the well-known story of Rikiu, the tea-master, of the sixteenth century, regarding the morning-glory, which Taiko, the great prince, entreated him to show him; it goes without saying that the morning-glory was [<162]  yet the rarest plant at that time. It is said that Rikiu had put all the flowers, of course morning-glories, away from the garden for the fine pebbles and white sand on the appointed day, where Taiko, as you can imagine, walked most sulkily towards the tea-room, where the great tea-master prepared the morning tea for his lord. The lord at once questioned himself where the morning-glory Rikiu promised was planted; but lo! when he entered the room, just one single morning-glory most winsome and delicate like a forgotten moonbeam, welcomed him from the tokonoma. Indeed, it was a great sacrifice for Rikiu to cut off all the other morning-glories; but it was the heroic way to give the one flower its full distinction. I think that the other flowers did not die in vain. So it is with my attitude towards the flowers when I look at them; I do not see the mass of them, and what I see in them, whether they be a willow or a branch of plums or the petals of lotus or the crawl of morning-glory, is just a touch or hint of their beauty, and I object to seeing the rest of them. To call my own way suggestive often leads people to misunderstanding; [<163] if I have any artistic significance or merit in my attitude, it is my understanding of how to leave the space in the picture, nay, the tokonoma where the vase for the flowers stands, or to speak more poetically, how to cover up the space of that tokonoma with the most graceful nothing; therefore my tokonoma has no stupid vacancy. You might call it a Japanese art if you will; but I believe that the true art has no East or West as it is always born from nowhere.