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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:

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Past Events

Konnichian Restoration News and UMAA Donation Drive

In 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.

Totsutotsusai dismantled
Totsutotsusai dismantled

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.

Totsutotsusai ceiling construction

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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Past Events

Midorikai Asia Intensive Seminar

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.

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Past Events

Midorikai Alumni Gather in Kyoto

Fifty-three Midorikai alumni, from twenty different countries and representing students from the early 1970s to the present time, took part in a special study program in Kyoto from June 26 to 30, 2018. Organized by the Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association (UMAA), it was the first time that such a major group of Midorikai alumni ever gathered at the home of Urasenke, where they had once studied as Midorikai students.

Read the full story on the Urasenke.or.jp website.

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 midorikai.org 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 midorikai.org 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 UMAA
    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.
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Past Events

UMAA Ikkyaku Ittei Tea: Michigan Tankokai 10th Anniversary

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.

Machida Soho Sensei with Anniversary attendees; Lindsey Stirek (Illinois) prepares 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.

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)

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.

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Past Events

First International Meeting of Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association

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.

1) COMMUNICATION/COMMUNITY
·
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

2) EDUCATION
·
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:

3) MAINTAIN RELATIONS WITH URASENKE KONNICHIAN
·
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.

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Past Events

Midorikai 40th Anniversary Reunion July 18-19, 2010

Midorikai Alumni Reunion Group Picture – 7/21/2010

Read the transcript of Mori Sensei’s talk from July 18, 2010.

Read Mori Sensei’s words of gratitude dated July 30, 2010.

Watch Now: Chakai & lecture videos with Mori Sensei
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Chakai & lecture videos with Mori Sensei