News Soke News

Greeting from Oiemoto Zabosai

Greeting from Oiemoto Zabosai

June 19, 2020 — Urasenke has a strong history of activity outside Japan, and of supporting the study of Japan’s comprehensive traditional culture of chado by international researchers and students.

From the mid-1960s, we began to see a rising number of those desiring to study at Konnichian, and so Daisosho, who was Iemoto at the time, established an official class for them in 1970, which in 1973 he named the Midorikai, a name suggested to him by his wife, my mother. The number of people who have studied in the Midorikai program for a year or more has surpassed five hundred, and if those who have studied in it for shorter periods are included, the number is even greater.

All of you students from abroad who have studied at Urasenke, no matter your ethnicity, are chajin, “tea people.” I am eager for the UMAA, which was formally established in 2002 through the efforts of a handful of you, to flourish as an organization that links all Midorikai alumni in your ongoing pursuit of chado.

News Soke News

Greeting from Daisosho Hounsai

Greeting from Daisosho Hounsai

June 19, 2020 — It has been seventy years since, carrying with me some tea utensils, I took my first trip to America in 1951, before the signing of the UN Peace Treaty with Japan, hoping to bring global peace among all humanity by means of Japan’s peaceful chado culture.

I have been to over sixty countries since then, places in every region and on every continent, promoting my message of “Peacefulness through a bowl of tea.” This phrase has happily become Urasenke’s international catchphrase, expressing the idea that chanoyu engenders both personal and societal peace.

Even though our languages and customs may differ, our experience sharing in a bowl of tea brings our hearts together. Urasenke chado students around the world understand this well. Those of you who have ever spent time in the Midorikai program in Kyoto, I urge you to keep up your involvement with chado, and to share the ethos of “Peacefulness through a bowl of tea” with many people.

Let us overcome Covid-19 with a bowl of tea! Let us keep up our spirits and do our best! At a time like this, how about trying ittei ikkyaku (one host, one guest) tea, which involves just two people?

Alumni News Latest News

Alums Band Together for a Historic Event

Midorikai Alums Band Together for a Historic Event

May 4, 2020 — On May 3, 2020, the OneWorld Chakai relay, held in celebration of the Midorikai’s 50th anniversary, took place via Zoom. Starting in New Zealand & Australia at JST 10:00 A.M, it gradually made its way westerly over the next 22 hours, from East Asia to Russia, Egypt, Europe, South & North America, and lastly Hawaii ― the starting place of the overseas diffusion of Urasenke Chado ― as its final destination. During this time, 80 Midorikai alums took charge of hosting a venue, approximately 170 people participated as virtual guests, and an amazing 20,000 or so Urasenke chado followers and others from around the world tuned in to the Zoom session to take part as observers. More than a few apparently stayed up and tuned in nearly the whole time, eager not to miss out on any of this historic UMAA event as it unfolded in real time.

This awesome undertaking, making use of technology still unfamiliar to many of us at that point in time, would not have come about if it were not for the dramatic change in the world situation due to the coronavirus. The concept for the originally planned Midorikai 50th Anniversary UMAA project, the brainchild of Bruce Hamana, was for alums to prepare tea for guests on or around Japan’s national Midori Day holiday, May 4, and send in their photos and reports of it. As the arrangements were coming into shape and the spring of 2020 rolled around, however, it suddenly became taboo to get together for any in-person chakai, and so the project was on the verge of cancellation. UMAA alums proved, however, that where there is a will there is a way. Suggestions were received, “Why not have it online?” In fact, “Why not have it in the form of a livestream Zoom relay chakai that travels around the world?” suggested Michelle Liu Carriger. This was an exciting proposal, but considering the technical know-how it would involve, as well as the obvious complexity of the logistics, it seemed irrational. Thanks to a ‘dream team’ of younger generation alum volunteers who could be enlisted, however, May 3 arrived in a matter of about three weeks from then, and within that astoundingly short time, the OneWorld Chakai relay was ready to go live. 

For many of the hosts as well as virtual guests, it was their first time using Zoom and experiencing the interactions possible through such recent technology. The participants were able to renew old friendships over the screens on their computers or mobile phone devices, and make new chado acquaintances. By sharing a bowl of tea through this big relay chakai event that linked the world together, the bonds between the alums were deepened. Amid the coronavirus situation wherein people’s feelings of isolation were mounting, the OneWorld Chakai offered a welcome moment of joyful respite and sharing.

The work that the core team and zone coordinators accomplished was no less than stupendous. UMAA thanks everyone who made the OneWorld Chakai such a resounding success!

OneWorld Chakai Executive Team
Website Coordinator: Carmen Johnson
Registration Manager: Wendy Lin
Technical Coordinator: Michelle Liu Carriger
Technical Assistance: Heather Nuanes
Zones Chairperson: Sarah Stewart
Zone Coordinators:
  * Zone 1: Wendy Lin
  * Zone 2: Bruce Hamana
  * Zone 3: Eileen Sung
  * Zone 4: Olga Nikulina
  * Zone 5: Aaron Bryson/Ula Mach Bryson
  * Zone 6: Sarah Stewart
  * Zones 7 & 8: Katie Bechtold
  * Zone 9: Rhonda Rolf
  * Zone 10: Jessica Rosenberg
  * Zone 11: Karl Fooks

Relay Schedule
Zone 1: Starting time
  * New Zealand
  * Australia
Zone 2: 1 hour into the relay
  * Japan
  * Korea
Zone 3: 5 hours into the relay
  * China
  * Singapore
  * Indonesia
  * India
Zone 4: 6 hours into the relay
  * Russia
  * Ukraine
Zone 5: 8 hours into the relay
  * Egypt
  * Bulgaria
  * Romania
  * Poland
  * Finland
  * Norway
  * Sweden
Zone 6: 11 hours into the relay
  * Slovenia
  * Hungary
  * Czech Republic
  * Switzerland
  * Germany
  * Belgium
  * France
  * England
  * Spain
Zone 7: 13 hours into the relay
  * Argentina
  * Brazil
Zone 8: 15 hours into the relay
  * Canada, eastern region
  * U.S., eastern region
Zone 9: 16 hours into the relay
  * Mexico
  * U.S., central region
Zone 10: 18 hours into the relay
  * U.S., mountain states region
  * U.S., west coast
  * Canada, western region
Zone 11: 21 hours into the relay
  * Hawaii

The raw, unedited video of the OneWorld Chakai relay is available for viewing here:

News Soke News

Rikyu-ki Message from Oiemoto Zabosai

Rikyu-ki Message from Oiemoto Zabosai

The following is a message from Iemoto Zabosai to Urasenke followers both domestic and international, composed on the occasion of the Rikyu Memorial (Rikyu-ki) on March 28, 2020. Along with a large number of other Urasenke events this year, the 2020 Rikyu-ki observance at Urasenke Konnichian, was closed to the public due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

A message from Zabosai Soshitsu Sen Grand Master XVI, Urasenke Chado Tradition

On the day of Rikyu-ki, March 28, 2020

The severity of the COVID-19 pandemic is increasing, with cities worldwide having restrictions on leaving one’s house and so forth, and an ineffable sense of anxiety overshadows not only Japan but the whole world. For a while more, each of you please personally be aware of the crisis and practice self-care. We must ride out this calamitous time. I do not know what the social environment will be like after that, but I believe that we will return to a place in which, with this single bowl of tea, we can share and interact with each other once more.

To those who long only for the flowers,
Show them Spring
In the grass peeking through the snow
In the mountain village

Our society is presently covered in a heavy blanket of snow. However, we should not be discouraged. Flowers and humans each have their own life energy. Let us put faith in that energy, for the day should not be far off when the grass will sprout through the snow.

View the original document here.

News Soke News

Introducing Ms. Makiko Sakata

Introducing Ms. Makiko Sakata

Ms. Makiko Sakata

Honorary President of the Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association

March 1, 2020 — Makiko Sakata was born in Kyoto in 1987 to Zabosai Soshitsu Sen XVI, sixteenth generation Grand Master of the Urasenke Tradition, and to Masako Sen, second daughter of His Imperial Highness Prince Takahito of Mikasa. After graduating from high school, Ms. Sakata continued her education in the International Studies Program, College of Humanities, at Ritsumeikan University. She received her Bachelors Degree in 2010.

Ms. Sakata serves on the Board of Directors of Konnichian’s Urasenke Foundation in Kyoto. As such she plays an important role in the many activities and programs that Urasenke Konnichian offers within Japan and internationally. In 2015 she participated in the opening events of the Japan Pavilion for Expo Milano. Later that same year Ms. Sakata led a program at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. More recently she headed the Introduction to Chado program in the United Arab Emirates in 2017. Ms. Sakata also acts as a Visiting Professor at the Kyoto Notre Dame University.

The Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association is honored that Ms. Sakata has consented to become the Honorary President of UMAA at her father Zabosai Oiemoto sama’s suggestion. She delivered the opening address of the third International UMAA meeting held in Kyoto, Japan, on June 28, 2018. This meeting was attended by the 53 participants of the first International Intensive Study and by current Midorikai students. [Read the meeting minutes.] She spoke about studying chanoyu as a way which naturally leads to the growth of humanistic values. Ms. Sakata encourages all of us to practice our Tea in a manner that will fulfill Daisosho sama’s vision of “peacefulness through a bowl of tea.”

We look forward to Ms. Sakata’s guidance and leadership into the future!

Alumni News News

Thank You from Urasenke

Thank You from Urasenke


682 Teranouchi Tate-cho
Horikawa Teranouchi agaru
Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto 602-0073

June 12, 2019

UMAA Members and Friends,

The month of June, “Minazuki,” has so far brought relatively little rain here in Kyoto, with moderately cool and comfortable weather. It is an opportune time to enjoy a bowl of tea outdoors.

Oiemoto and Daisosho were very happy to receive the letter from the UMAA, sent via email and dated June 6, about your donation campaign to contribute to the funding for the Konnichian restoration work. They are certainly pleased to accept the donation which you offer, JPY1,000,000, and deeply appreciate that the UMAA got together to make this contribution.

I am writing to you today, on their behalf as they have asked me and my Kokusaibu department to do, to convey this to all of you members and friends of the UMAA. Oiemoto and Daisosho, together with all of us others at Urasenke Headquarters, are overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude for your much welcome show of continuing support.

The exhausting restoration work on the historical Konnichian tea room complex is still ongoing, but the completion of this immense project which has taken many years already is not far away. Thank you, UMAA members and friends who have contributed towards its funding.

Very sincerely,

Kayoko Hirota, Manager
International Affairs Department

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Konnichian Restoration News and UMAA Donation Drive

Konnichian Restoration News and UMAA Donation Drive

Totsutotsusai dismantled

May 19, 2019In 2013 Oiemoto Zabosai sama undertook the historic task of complete refurbishment of the Konnichian complex of tearooms. As these tearooms have been designated Important Cultural Properties by the Japanese government, the refurbishment is being treated almost as an archeological endeavor. The massive process has now entered its third of four phases.

From the beginning of this year, work began on the tearooms Totsutotsusai, Dairo no ma, Saya no ma, and the Onsodo. This area of the complex was constructed by eleventh generation Gengensai Seichu Soshitsu. And indeed, as the ceiling of Totsutotsusai was dismantled, wood plaques dated 1801 and 1856 were found in the rafters. Oiemoto Zabosai will be adding another plaque of his own before the ceiling is sealed once again.

The dismantling also revealed the exact construction method of its famous ceiling, and confirmed that the wood came from the Goyomatsu five-needled pine trees planted by eighth generation Yugensai Itto on Daitokuji grounds.

The original materials will be preserved to the extent possible. If any have been damaged beyond repair, the new materials will be distressed and stained to match the surrounding. Kabe, clay plaster for the walls, has always been intended to be renewed periodically. This will be done where necessary, for example on some of the interior walls of Totsutotsusai. However, the original plaster will be left in place for the Onsodo and other tearooms.

The foundations for this area were replaced with concrete in 1965. This new foundation will be removed, and the foundation returned to its traditional form.

It is hoped that the restoration will be complete by 2020 in time for the Summer Olympics.

Update, June 12, 2019: Read the Restoration Fund Donation Acknowledgement from Urasenke

UMAA Donation Drive

Urasenke Konnichian has established a fund for this historical project to which those wishing to express their support may contribute. At all of the UMAA meetings held thus far, members expressed a desire to connect with the Sen family and to give something back. Here is a concrete opportunity to do just that.

The names of these tearooms no doubt hold precious memories for Midorikai Alumni. We can be part of Urasenke’s long history and future by donating to the project. UMAA has set a goal of $5,000. To date, pledges for $2,500 have already come in. While the goal is now halfway met, how auspicious it would be to make an even more significant donation!

The projected date to offer the UMAA contribution is February 15, 2019, in time for the observation of Rikyu-ki. A list of contributor names only will be sent along with the offering. You may make a contribution to preserve this heritage that we love.

Thank you so much for your generosity.

Alumni News News

Midorikai Asia Intensive Seminar

Midorikai Asia Intensive Seminar

April 29, 2019 — Midorikai alumni in Asia organized an intensive seminar in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, April 27-28, 2019. Eleven Midorikai alumni and 19 Tankokai Association members participated. Eileen Sung (’97, Singapore), organizer and coordinator, was assisted by Hanna Danudirgo (‘14, Indonesia), local coordinator; and Teti Indriati (Midorikai,Technical University of Indonesia), and Lia Japani (‘91, Bandung University). All of the utensils and material for the intensive, including tatami for two eight-mat spaces, were provided by the Indonesia tea practitioners.

The two-day intensive focused on shichijishiki, particularly kagetsu and shaza and its variations. Instructing the intensive were Bruce Sosei Hamana (’83, former Midorikai director) and Yumiko Kitamura (Midorikai instructor). Also attending were teachers from the Tankokai Indonesia Association, including Kuniko Soho Pohan, Suwarni Sojun Widjaja, and Tinny Sudrajat.

The program began on April 27 with warigeiko (review of temae basics), and then a demonstration of hirakagetsu. After the demonstration, the students were divided into two groups and participated in the following temae: mugon nagekomi, sumitsuki kagetsu, kininkiyotsugu usucha and koicha, gyakugatte kagetsu, and yojohan kagetsu according to their level.

On April 28, the first temae was basic shaza, followed by kinin shaza, sanyu, senyu, and continuation of kagetsu practice. Although some participants were doing shichijishiki for the first time, accommodations were made so that everyone participated in at least three temae each day, and many were able to do hana, okō, and various other activities not regularly done in regular keiko. All of the participants are greatly indebted to the organizers and the organizations which lent their cooperation to hold this first event in Asia.

In addition to the jitsugi practice in the tearoom, Eileen Sung organized a tour for the Midorikai students attending from outside Indonesia. On April 24, the day of arrival, the group went to the Amanjiwo Resort where they sampled Indonesia culture and cuisine. The next day, they viewed the sunrise at the 9th C. Borobudur Temple, the largest Buddhist monument in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the afternoon, they visited the 9th C. Prambanan Hindu Temple at sunset; this temple is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Participants brought their chabako and chadogu and enjoyed tea at the sites, on the bus, and in many locations.

After the intensive seminar was concluded, eight participants remaining in Yogyakarta participated in a chanoyu presentation at the Universitas Teknologi Yogyakarta on April 29. Over 100 students from Japanese language and cultural classes at three universities in the city attended the presentation comprising a slide show, temae demonstration, and question and answer session. Dr. Eko Setyo, dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Education & Tourism, introduced the group, participated in the demonstration as a guest, and later presented all of the participants with certificates of appreciation and commemorative gifts. The university also kindly hosted a luncheon with the teaching staff and Midorikai alumni and friends.

Alumni News News

UMAA Kyoto Membership Meeting Summary

UMAA Kyoto Membership Meeting Summary

Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association
Kyoto Membership Meeting
June 28, 2018
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM

  1. Opening Remarks and Introductions
    Mike Hardy opened the proceedings and introduced Makiko Sakata sama.

  2. Welcome/Greetings: Makiko Sakata sama
    Makiko-sama talked about her thoughts on the importance of “The Way” and the three characteristics of the practice of “The Way”: 1) there is a teacher/disciple transmission of knowledge; 2) there is a skill and form that needs to be practiced and learned; and 3) the practice should contribute to the spiritual growth of the student. She noted that often people neglect the importance of spiritual growth and learning. She encouraged Midorikai to practice our tea in a manner that will fulfill Daisosho’s vision of “Peacefulness through a Bowl of Tea.”

  3. Brief History of UMAA
    Karl Fooks read greetings from UMAA President Larry Tiscornia:

    It is with regret that I have not been able to join this first Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association intensive study and international meeting. I wanted to say a special thank you to Oiemoto sama and Daisosho sama for approving this special 3-day intensive study. I would also like to thank Makiko sama for attending today’s meeting and sharing her views. In addition I would like to thank the sensei’s for their teaching and the foreign affairs office for their help in coordinating this event. With their help the preparations for this study went very smoothly. I would also like to thank Bruce Hamana for his continuing dedication to Midorikai and the Alumni Association and all his help during the planning of this study. Christy Bartlett, Karl Fooks and Jessica Rosenberg have worked tirelessly planning and finalizing this historic 3-day study. Thank you for your continued dedication to Midorikai and the Alumni Association. Finally, I would like to thank all of you from many parts of the world for taking part in this intensive study. I hope that you will return home with a renewed dedication as you continue to share Urasenke tea with many others in your home country.

    1. Karl Fooks summarized the timeline of UMAA to date:
      1. Established with support from Oiemoto, Daisosho and Mori sensei.
      2. 2000 – Yumiko Toyama Pakenham (then Yumiko Miyagi) obtained the domain name created 11/30/2000. She had the idea to begin forming a Midorikai Alumni Association.
      3. July 2001 – During the Hawaii 50th Anniversary an alumni steering committee was formed. Yumiko agreed to transfer ownership of the domain name to Larry Tiscornia as caretaker on behalf of a yet to be formed alumni association. She also agreed to transfer the Midorikai database from Kyoto to Larry.
      4. January 25, 2002 – Letter sent to Oiemoto and Wakasosho asking permission to use Urasenke in the name (Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association).
      5. Mori Sensei responded by email that permission to use Urasenke in the name was granted by Oiemoto and Wakasosho..
      6. May 22, 2002 – Kyoto sent a transcription of Mr. Yonesaku’s letter advising that Oiemoto and Wakasosho responded to our May 9 letter by giving their blessing and offering support.
      7. July 18 & 19, 2010 – Midorikai 40th Anniversary Reunion and Chakai held in Hawaii in conjunction with the Hawaii Seminar. A general meeting was held with Daisosho and Alumni attendees on July 18.
      8. September 23, 2014 – Received Letter of Determination from the IRS granting NPO status.
      9. February 21, 2016 – First international dinner meeting of UMAA was held in Hawaii during the Hawaii 65th Anniversary celebration.
    2. Board members: Karl Fooks introduced the board members:
      1. President – Larry Tiscornia (USA)
      2. Vice President – Karl Fooks (USA)
      3. Vice President (International) – Ulrich Haas (Germany)
      4. Treasurer – Christy Bartlett (USA)
      5. Secretary – Sharon Stephens (USA)
    3. Website, social media and member database

  4. Next Steps for UMAA
    1. Regional Advisors to support the Board and prepare for next generation of leadership. Christy Bartlett led a discussion of the need for regional advisors:
      1. Regions: The consensus is to have the following regions: Europe/Middle East/Africa, Asia/Oceania, North America, and Central/South America. Each region should have 2-3 representatives.
      2. Responsibilities: The primary responsibilities for the regional representatives should be facilitating communication within regions and between the regions and UMAA leadership. Also the recruiting of members was mentioned.
    2. Recruit Members:
      1. Establish dues: A $25 annual dues was endorsed and a lively discussion of all the various services UMAA should be able deliver to its members: grants for events, a library of tea information, and a forum for information exchange and connection between members. Some discussion of the relationship of UMAA to Tankokai was discussed with the strong encouragement for UMAA members to become members of their local Tankokai. Karl welcomed the group as the first dues-paying members of UMAA as their fees for the Intensive Study included one year’s dues. Those dues were used in their entirety by UMAA to cover the cost overage incurred during the Intensive. UMAA also drew on existing funds to cover the overage.
      2. Communication
        1. Website – need for new website. A suggestion was made to have UMAA members who are tea teachers listed on the website.
        2. Social media
        3. E-mail database. There are nearly 600 Midorikai Alumni, but the database only holds contact info for about 300. Effort has been made to collect as many Midorikai alumni email contacts as possible. Members were encouraged to have people in their networks contribute their email addresses.

  5. Next Initiative for UMA
    1. This intensive study opportunity was a collective request from the last UMAA meeting. Karl Fooks thanked Mike Hardy and Waka Suzuki from Kokusaibu for their help. Christy Bartlett, Jessica Rosenberg and Bruce Hamana were recognized for their contributions to organizing the event.
    2. Ideas mentioned:
      1. Intensive Study in the regions
      2. Attend commemorative events in Kyoto
      3. Host tea events around the world
      4. Host an UMAA 50th Anniversary event in Kyoto, but with linked events around the world.

  6. Concluding Remarks
    1. Makiko-sama thanked the members for their participation. She said she found the frank discussion of the issues by all the members to be refreshing.
    2. The commemorative fans were distributed as well as a shaku ruler made by Kathryn Bechtold.
Alumni News News

Hideyoshi and Rikyu

Hideyoshi and Rikyu

by Yaeko Nogami (Author), Mariko Nishi LaFleur (Translator), Morgan Beard (Translator)

Hideyoshi made a strangled noise, words stifled by his rage… [He] flew down from the dais, the toes of his gold brocade socks flashing over ten green grass mats in a second. Soji’s body was kicked from the corridor like a ball, hitting the stepping stone and rolling into the garden… At the time, Rikyu was still in the tearoom, and knew nothing about it. On his way to see Hideyoshi, to inform him that the tea gathering had concluded successfully, Omura Yuki intercepted him and whispered urgently in his ear. But by that time, Soji’s head was already separated from his torso, lying in the corner of the stone wall. — from Chapter 12

Nogami Yaeko’s compelling novel of political intrigue in sixteenth-century Japan depicts the intertwined lives of two iconic historical figures. Toyotomi Hideyoshi rose through the ranks from a common foot soldier to become the military ruler of Japan but struggled to win respect among the cultured nobility. He found both a friend and an invaluable political advisor in Sen no Rikyu, Japan’s most respected tea master. A wealthy merchant in his own right, Rikyu’s talent for tea ceremony propelled him into the ruler’s court. Deftly balancing Hideyoshi’s love of ostentatious display with the ideals of simplicity and rusticity embodied in the way of tea, Rikyu commands respect from loyal students and court nobles alike.

As the story opens, the two men are several years into their friendship, and tensions have begun to build. Hideyoshi pursues his quest to unify Japan, and his ego grows with every victory. Rikyu watches his friends exiled and pardoned according to Hideyoshi’s whims and longs for freedom from the excess and intrigue of court life. Nogami explores the dynamic politics of conquest, the delicate connections of the human soul, and the power of speech and silence in her elegant psychological portrait of two powerful men.

Mariko Nishi LaFleur is a Japanese native who has been teaching tea ceremony in Japan and the United states for more than thirty-five years. She has a degree in Anthropology from Bryn Mawr College. Her articles and translations has been published in the Japanese Society for the Study of Chanoyu journal and the Chanoyu Quarterly and she has participated in educational films on tea ceremony for the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Aiya Tea Company in Japan. She was trained at Urasenke tea school headquarters in Kyoto, where she has taught for many years. She has also taught classes in tea ceremony, Japanese culture, and Japanese language at the University of Pennsylvania and other institutions.

Morgan Beard has been a professional writer and editor for more than twenty years. She has a degree in religion and communication from LaSalle University and an advanced teaching certification (jun-kyojyu) from the Urasenke Tea School. She has been active in teaching and promoting tea culture throughout the Philadelphia area for more than twenty years and currently serves as the chief of administration for the Philadelphia chapter of the Urasenke Tankokai Association.

Alumni News News

UMAA Ikkyaku Ittei Tea: Michigan Tankokai 10th Anniversary

UMAA Ikkyaku Ittei Tea: Michigan Tankokai 10th Anniversary

Machida Soho Sensei with Anniversary attendees; Lindsey Stirek (Illinois) prepares tea
Back row left: Lindsey Stirek (Illinois), Christy Soei Bartlett (San Francisco), Rhonda Rolf (Texas),
Front row left: Jan Waldmann (Oregon), Carmen Johnson (Texas), Morgan Somon Beard (Philadelphia)

Chado Urasenke Tankokai Michigan Association Welcomes North America

By Morgan Somon Beard, Chief of Administration for Urasenke Philadelphia Association, and a sensei within the Association.

May 6, 2017 — The Michigan branch of the international Urasenke Tankokai Federation opened their hearts to practitioners from across North America to celebrate their tenth anniversary on May 6 and 7, 2017.

The event began on Saturday morning with koicha and usucha seatings hosted by the association. Our hosts worked hard to transform the hotel setting into a tea space, bringing live plants, lanterns, and tsukubai stones to create a tea garden in the vicinity of each tea space. The utensil selection was a tribute to Urasenke’s presence in this country, featuring many items from Hounsai Daisosho and Zabosai Oiemoto.

In the afternoon, the floor was turned over to regional associations from throughout the continent. Two groups came from Illinois, one representing the Chicago Association and the other a student group from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Northeast, the Pacific Northwest, Los Angeles, and the Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association were represented with four other groups. The Chicago Association offered tea with a ryurei set created by their President Dean Raffaelli. The other groups assembled tray-style ryakubon tea, sharing this simple tea preparation with a small group of guests, no more than ten for each seating. Guests were encouraged to circulate among the six groups and to enjoy tea.

I was fortunate to be able to participate in the afternoon tea as both host and guest. As a host with the Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association, I experienced the joy of offering tea for old friends and new, sharing stories and memories about the utensils that were used, including many pieces that had appeared at previous anniversary celebrations in other cities. As a guest, I experienced the local flavors and colors of many regions, and enjoyed the many different ways that others have adapted local materials, objects, and imagery into their tea practice. One of the highlights for me was the Urbana-Champaign student gathering, where we witnessed budding tea people apply their whole hearts to the creation of tea.

The next day, we were all treated to two special events. First, Machida Soho, a gyotei sensei from Urasenke Konnichian, conducted a morning workshop in which four temae were taught, in addition to a discussion of warigeiko. No matter how many years you’ve studied tea, there’s always some new revelation to be gained from listening to a gyotei sensei, and we were particularly fortunate to be able to learn from Machida sensei. Christy Bartlett, director of the Urasenke Foundation San Francisco, translated for the English speakers among the participants.

The event wrapped up with a lecture from Dr. Hideji Sekine on the influence of Chinese philosophy on chado. This is a huge topic, and the audience came away with a new way to think about the relationship of tea utensils to each other and how the tearoom becomes a representation of the universe in miniature.

I know I speak for all participants when I express my profound gratitude to all the members of Chado Urasenke Tankokai Michigan Association for their hard work and wonderful welcome to make this a one-of-a-kind event.

Alumni News News

First International Meeting of Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association

First International Meeting of Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association

February 21, 2016 — In February 2016 the Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association was honored with the opportunity to host a gathering as part of the Hawaii 65th Anniversary celebrations. It was also a marvelous opportunity for an international meeting of alumni to discuss the mission of the Alumni Association.

On February 21, a dinner meeting was held with 31 alums in attendance, representing 6 countries and ranging from recent graduates to those who studied nearly 40 years ago. Many of the members were meeting for the first time; others were long-time friends. Several months prior to the meeting, UMAA reached out to the international community with an online survey for those who might be unable to travel to this event.

Learning about and participating in events around the world
· Sharing knowledge of local resources
· Creating UMAA regional advisors to act as conduits for information
· Redesigning the UMAA website to facilitate connections among alums

Sharing Chanoyu-related knowledge and information
· Hosting workshops on Chanoyu-related topics
· Creating a (primarily digital) library-alums strongly supported an idea to underwrite a project for Urasenke Konnichian to digitize the 88 volumes of Chanoyu Quarterly

Through discussion and the survey, three major topics emerged that are of interest to the alums:

Keeping in touch with Kokusaibu and thus, ultimately, with the Soke
· Keeping up to date with Midorikai news
· Thinking of UMAA as a resource ready to be called upon to further the Soke’s vision for Urasenke Chanoyu, and to put into practice the Urasenke Chanoyu training alums were so fortunate to receive.

At present, UMAA and its website are maintained by a volunteer committee working to establish a sustainable structure for the organization. At this meeting, a proposal was made to develop UMAA regional advisors. Regional advisors would maintain connections with alumni in their areas and would act as conduits of information. Furthermore, it is hoped that regional advisors will become leaders and officers of the Alumni Association in the future.

All members expressed a strong desire to have an opportunity to continue their study with an Intensive Study in Kyoto arranged with the Konnichian Headquarters. Their hope is to request such an opportunity in the near future. A specific proposal is being prepared to submit to the Headquarters.

The Urasenke Konnichian website, the English-language Urasenke Newsletter, and events such as the Hawaii 65th Anniversary are already realizing some of these dreams. We pledge to devote our energies to the international future of the Urasenke Tradition of Chanoyu.

News Soke News

Daisosho in Los Angeles: Lecture and Raku Exhibit

Daisosho in Los Angeles: Lecture and Raku Exhibit

Bing Theatre
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles

Reported by Iris Friedlander, New York

May 24, 2015 — On a sunny afternoon at the downtown Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Dr. Genshitsu Sen, 15th Grand Master of Urasenke, presented an offertory Tea (kencha-shiki); followed by his 40-minute lecture/demonstration, and a dedicatory Tea. These events, free and open to the public, began at 1 pm, and ran over 2 hours. They were held in conjunction with the extraordinary exhibition, “Raku: The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl,” in the museum’s Pavilion for Japanese Art.

The 600-seat auditorium was packed. Special guests in the audience included Kyoto potter, Atsundo Raku, 34-year old son of Kichizaemon Raku XV. Dr. Robert T. Singer, Curator and Head of Japanese Art at LACMA, opened the program with a charming musical prelude: Japanese ladies performed duets on koto and harp, of the traditional melody “Sakura,” followed by Irving Berlin’s “America.” Daisosho, looking fit and spry at 92 years, presented a ryurei-style offertory Tea, in a somber, slow-paced temae. Driven by his intense desire to contribute to the realization of global peace, he has devoted his life to spreading Chado, the Way of Tea, around the world. Fittingly, this Tea commemorated the end of World War II in 1945.

His on-stage hanging scroll, “Wa Kei Sei Jaku”, represent Chado’s four key principles: harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. Daisosho then prepared Koicha for 10 dignitaries, including Consul General Harry H. Horinouchi, who spoke briefly, Mrs. Horinouchi, Dr. Glenn T. Webb, and others.

His talk wove together threads about Tea, Raku, and his personal experiences, which were expertly translated by Gretchen Mittwer. Daisosho’s smile lit up the large room, as he related that his first tea lesson from his father, Tantansai, began on the 6th day of the 6th month of his 6th year. To accommodate his small hands, Seinyu Raku XIII (1887~1944) was commissioned to make a child-size chawan. This was his first experience with Raku ware – 86 years ago! He explained that in Chanoyu the pottery hierarchy is: ichi Raku, ni Hagi, san Karatsu.

We were reminded that the spectacular Raku exhibit next door was a unique event. Dr. Singer had been planning the show and Daisosho’s visit for five years, in celebration of LACMA’s 50th anniversary. He went to Japan to personally request from Daisosho the loan of ‘Tarobo’ by Chojiro I (?~1589). Another temae demonstrating usucha thin tea was given for three guests. The shokyaku was Christy Soei Bartlett, Director, Urasenke Foundation San Francisco.

After this wondrous program, I chatted briefly with Atsundo Raku, who is now closely studying the pottery of his 16th century ancestor, Chojiro I. How lucky he is!

UMAA Facebook Announcement

The Way of Tea in L.A.

Soke News

Daisosho 88th Birthday Message

Daisosho 88th Birthday Message



The cherry blossoms have bloomed, and combined with the green of the weeping willows, the world has turned into the spring scene of “hana wa kurenai, yanagi wa midori” – literally, “the flowers are pink and the willows are green.”

The recent, unprecedented huge earthquake, and the triple blow from also being struck by the tsunami and nuclear plant disaster, have caused Japan to once again be in distress in all sorts of ways. It is a mournful situation, and I sincerely pray for the repose of the souls of the victims whose lives were lost. I am determined to do what meager bit I carry to be of some slight help in the surviving people’s quick recovery.

Amid such a situation my thoughts about my own petty Beiju (88th) birthday vanished somewhere, and I feel so anguished about the disaster that celebrating my birthday is unthinkable. This notwithstanding, however, I thank you for your message of congratulations straightaway, for my Beiju. I wish to express my appreciation and gratitude for your kind thoughts and gesture.

Once things settle down and the world at large becomes more peaceful, I would like to directly express my gratitude to you. For the time being, this is a quick, brief message of thanks. Though the season now is pleasant I hope you will still be careful of your health.

Genshitsu Sen
Former Urasenke Iemoto
April 2011

Alumni News News

Thank You from Mori Sensei

Thank You from Mori Sensei

July 30, 2010

Dear Members of the Midorikai Alumni Association and Midorikai students,

First of all, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all of you who worked so hard planning and implementing the memorable Midorikai 40th Anniversary Commemorative Events and Reunion in Hawaii this summer. Also, I would like to say thank you to all who gathered in Hawaii, and all of those who — although unable to attend the events personally — sent congratulatory letters to Hounsai Daisosho.

Forty years adds up to many months and years; but for me, it has been a continuum of months and years extending up to the present. The faces of the Midorikai students have remained in my heart and have helped me recall the months and years clearly as if they were yesterday. At the commemorative events, I was able to see again former students who have become prominent and talented people working in their various fields and communities. This made me realize that everyone had gone on to live his or her own life, and that during these forty years, a generation had passed. I was very happy to see that everyone, including people who had been out of touch with Urasenke and perhaps the Way of Tea, had led full and happy lives.

Daisosho Hounsai was very happy that many people were able to gather in Hawaii, and during the commemorative banquet, he said that the Midorikai students are his treasures. What a wonderful thing to say! I have seen many Midorikai students go on to become knowledgeable Chado teachers themselves, and have seen them verily conveying the spirit of Chado and passing the reigns to the next generation. This is for me an unparalleled joy.

I hope that reunions, such as this one commemorating the 40th anniversary, will continue to be held in ten, twenty, thirty years, and further into the future. Let us strive to share Daisosho’s continuing feelings for Midorikai and its success, and to contribute to his great endeavors to expand Japan’s traditional Tea culture into a world-wide cultural activity. Through these activities, we are all playing an important role in the long history of Chanoyu.

Again, I would like to express my great appreciation for your invitation to the 40th Anniversary Commemorative Events. Please stay healthy and full of energy; I, too, will be mindful of my body and strive to live a long life devoted to tea, with the hopes of being able to meet you all again in the future.

Somei Mori

Alumni News News

Talk by Mori Sensei

Talk by Mori Sensei: At the Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association’s 40th Anniversary Reunion General Meeting

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great honor and a privilege to be here with you in the presence of the Great Grand Master Hounsai to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Midorikai. It is truly a realization of my dream. When I see the Great Grand Master and all of the 60 alumni of Midorikai, whose faces have been imprinted deeply in my heart, I feel as though I am attending a family reunion.

I sincerely hope and believe that the newly established Alumni Association would flourish and prosper, further deepening your bonds, so that your activities will continue 10, 20, 30 years into the future, and into eternity along with the Urasenke Family.

It was 40 years ago, in 1970, the year of the Osaka Expo, when a group of youths came to Kyoto and knocked on the doors of the Urasenke School of Tea. That marked the first encounter between the Great Grand Master Hounsai and your predecessors. They had come from the United States, Canada, Ethiopia, Sweden, and Denmark. That day also marked the beginning of the Midorikai.

Hounsai, who at the time was the Grand Master of Urasenke had donated a tea room named, “Han’an, Banri” for the Japanese garden exhibit at the Osaka Expo. This was where these youths had their first taste of tea. Through this experience, they discovered that despite the noise of Osaka Expo, “something in the Japanese Chado, offered a healing of the heart.” Their impressions resonated with the Grand Master’s belief that Chado could heal the hearts of the people of the world after all the sufferings experienced in the World War II.

The Grand Master established the Midorikai, “The Chado Scholarship System for the Students from Other Nations.” The Mission of the Scholarship was to “teach and develop the youths from other nations through the study of Chado according to the Urasenke School of Tea, receiving hands-on experience and understanding of the true meaning of Chado, so that they could use that knowledge and experience to contribute to the world peace.”

At the same time, the Grand Master established the motto of “ichiwan kara peacefulness” for the domestic Tankokai. Thus, began the movement of the “Peacefulness from a Bowl of Tea.” Grand Master’s belief has not changed from that time, so that now 40 years since, and as the Great Grand Master Hounsai is still with us today to celebrate this occasion. It is truly a wonderful day.

Whenever, I see the Great Grand Master’s face, I am reminded of the saying, banri ichijo no tetsu or “steel wire continues for thousands of miles.” The literal meaning seems to describe the underwater communication cables that link the continents. Of course, that is not what I am referring to. The Zen interpretation of the expression is to pursue one’s belief without disruption or extraneous thoughts to the very end. However, it does not mean, to be inflexible or rigid. Just as there is elasticity in steel, there must be the ability to flexibly respond to the changes from the external environment. This metaphor of one steel wire which continues on without any doubts describing the Zen training has truly been exemplified before our eyes by the Great Grand Master Hounsai.

The members of Midorikai can be likened to the doves that have flown in from all over the world to alight upon this wire represented by the Great Grand Master to find their spiritual solace through the Japanese tradition of Tea.

Since the establishment of Chado in the 16th Century by Rikyu, in 400 years of its history, it took the 15th Generation Grand Master living in the 20th Century, to open the doors of this traditional Japanese culture to the rest of the world. Since then, over 500 Midorikai doves have alighted on this wire. Besides the members of Midorikai, many heads of states, foreign dignitaries, scholars, students and visitors have gathered from the 5 Continents.

I believe that it is a miracle, living in the age of transition from the 20th to the 21st Century, where we have experienced drastic turmoil in the world affairs, that we have encountered Chado and the Great Grand Master Hounsai.

Two years ago, I published a book entitled “Sekai De Ocha O” from Tankosha describing the half a century of history of the globalization of Chado. In the book, I attempted to describe the story of the great achievements of the Great Grand Master Hounsai in his relentless efforts to spread Chado to the world, which I earlier expressed as banri ichijo no tetsu. From the period of the 20th to the 21st Century, Chado became established as not only a Japanese cultural heritage but a world cultural heritage through the efforts of the Great Grand Master Hounsai. Midorikai has played a crucial role in that history. In the book, I wrote about his mother, Kayoko Ookusama, his wife, Tomiko Okusama and the individual members of Midorikai who were there to support him during that time. They all left strong impressions of their sincerity to Tea and to the Grand Tea Master that I felt that I needed to leave a record of their existence. We, including myself, have been fortunate to be part of this miraculous story.

“Tea is enough if it satisfies thirst.” This implies not only the satisfaction of the physical thirst but also the spiritual thirst. All of you as members of the Midorikai know empirically through your practice and training of Tea, that it does truly satisfy the spiritual thirst. With this in mind, I hope you re-confirm the spirit of the “Peacefulness from a Bowl of Tea” as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Midorikai.

In closing I wish to extend my congratulations to the Great Grand Master Hounsai, the alumni and the members of Midorikai on this joyous occasion.

Thank you very much.

July 18, 2010
Akiko Mori

Alumni News News

Midorikai 40th Anniversary Reunion July 18-19, 2010

Midorikai 40th Anniversary Reunion July 18-19, 2010

Daisosho greets Alumni at Sheraton Waikiki Dinner 7/21/10
Midorikai Alumni Reunion Group Picture - 7/21/2010
Midorikai Alumni Reunion Group Picture – 7/21/2010