もの々ふ乃 やしまのうらの ゆふしほに
mononofu no/yashima no ura no/yuu shiho ni/nagaremo aenu/ yumihari no tsuki
(The Moon Above the Ocean)
The bow-shaped [=half] moon
Reminds me of the brave warrior
In the battle of Yashima Bay
Who would not let
His bow float away in the evening tide.
This refers to a famous story in the Tale of the Heike. During a fierce battle at Yashima Bay, one of the warriors, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, dropped his bow in the sea. He dived in the deep water to retrieve it. When the other samurai asked him why he risked his life for a bow, he said, “The bow was strung for a weak archer, and if it washed up on the enemy’s shore, they would get the impression that our entire force was weak. I could not dishonor our side like that.”
Although this seems to be an unusual poem to inscribe on a teacup, it indicates that the tea ceremony is another kind of martial art, something that has to be practiced in the samurai spirit—a spirit well understood by Rengetsu the martial artist.