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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.

 

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

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

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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Alumni News News

Mori Sensei – A talk at the Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Assocation’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 Midori-Kai. 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 re-union.

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 to 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” 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 18th, 2010
Akiko Mori

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Alumni News News

Midorikai 40th Anniversary Reunion July 18-19, 2010

Daisosho and Alumni at Sheraton Waikiki Dinner 7/21/10
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