two dragons on the bottom
of the cup
Comment: in this tea time scene the reader wonders if the two dragons (ryū 竜) indicated in the second ku are ‘real’ (i.e. painted on the bottom of the cup) or if they come from an amateur tasseography activity. Tasseography is the ancient fortune-telling and divination art of reading tea leaves (chaba 茶葉); it basically allows those who practice it to know someone’s future and destiny. Dragons mean ‘profound and sudden change’, making the reading of this haiku even more cryptic. The recurring hard and clean ‘t’ sound in lines 2 and 3 emphasizes this sense of surprise in the reader’s mind, opening up to different possible outcomes.