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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.

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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