Sen Rikyū (1522 – 1591) stands as a seminal figure in the transition of a medieval practice of drinking matcha into its modern form, the Way of Tea. He combined the elegant tea tradition of the ruling warrior class with the less stylized forms of townsman tea. One of his pupils likened Rikyū’s tea practice to a withered tree in winter, and said that he made mountains into valleys.
Rikyū’s tea practice will be examined through images of the tea utensils and tea environments he favored. The body of anecdotes and mythologizing stories that reference Rikyū will be considered along with the facts that are known about his life. The traditions and practice that he founded grew into the vital cultural tradition that is Urasenke today.
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Christy Bartlett Sōei
From 1973 to 1981, Ms. Bartlett practiced chanoyu under Sen Sōshitsu XV, fifteenth generation Head Master of the Urasenke Tradition of Chanoyu, at the Urasenke tearooms in Kyoto. In 1981, Dr. Sen sent her to San Francisco to establish the first West Coast office of Urasenke. For over 40 years, the Urasenke Foundation SF has energetically served the North American community with wide-ranging programs for museums, educational institutions, and numerous community groups. Ms. Bartlett regularly travels the United States to lead master classes. In 2002, Dr. Sen recognized her commitment to education and study in the field of chanoyu with one of Urasenke’s highest degrees, the seikyoju. In 2010 Ms. Bartlett was awarded the Japanese government’s Foreign Minister’s Commendation, for fostering understanding between the United States and Japan.