11. Ichigo-ichie: the Meeting of a Lifetime

According to a dictionary, the Japanese expression ichigo-ichie means “the teaching in the tea ceremony which prescribes that the meeting with the guest should be regarded as a once-in-a-life occasion, requiring the practitioner of the ceremony to entertain the guest with all her or his heart.” One may think that if the meeting takes place only once, one should treat it accordingly. But out of the very fact of thinking of a meeting as a once-only irreplaceable event, the expression informs, arises the sincere desire to entertain one’s guest with one’s entire heart. For reference, another dictionary defines it as “an unusual turn of fate that may occur like a once-in-a-lifetime meeting.”

When you think about it, the relationship between teachers and students is an unusual turn of fate. I do not wish to raise again the question of why students enter ASAFAS instead of, for example, the Graduate School of Agriculture or Economics. For the time being, it doesn’t matter if the reply is “somehow or another.” For, it can be said, the important thing about the Dragon Quest is not the goal, but the process of the quest itself. In any event, within the arena provided by “area studies,” the coming together by happy chance at a specific place and at a specific time is indeed our once-in-a-lifetime connection. No matter how it happened, I would like this connection to be held dear. After all, education and research and fieldwork are all based on a chain of these inexplicable yet fateful connections in our life.


KATO Tsuyoshi
Doing Fieldwork on the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies