Greetings from Iemoto SEN Soshitsu XVI

Sen Soshitu


Chanoyu, the Japan-based art of preparing matcha tea for one's guests, and of partaking of that tea as a guest, covers a broad spectrum of culture. One might think of it as a desk having many drawers packed with a great variety of enjoyments.
        First of all, there is the enjoyment of whisking a bowl of tea and savoring it. Then there is the spirit of hospitality expressed in the confections and other foods, and the enjoyment derived from how the flowers, the charcoal-laying, and the incense-burning have been thought out. There are its connections with Zen, with painting and calligraphy, and with many crafts such as ceramics, kettle-casting, and lacquerware. Tea-house architecture, landscape gardening, and etiquette are also part and parcel of this cultural realm. What is more, chanoyu provides us with the time and place where we can sense and appreciate the subtle signs of nature's changes through the annual cycle of its seasons. Considering all of this, I see chanoyu, or Japan's "way of tea," called "chado" in Japanese, as a portal to Japanese culture.
        The fundamental spirit underlying the practice of chanoyu was expressed by Sen Rikyu as Wa Kei Sei Jaku, or "Harmony, Respect, Purity, and Tranquility," and this spirit remains unchanged to this day. This, however, does not mean that chanoyu has simply been lodged in the ways of the past. Each successive generation has diligently sought a chanoyu suited to that particular time and era, and it owes to this that the legacy of chanoyu, with its unchanged fundamental spirit, has been carried forward to the present.
        The attitude that any particular set of circumstances is a singular occurrence in one's lifetime is expressed in the phrase ichigo-ichie, or literally, "one time, one meeting," which runs through the fundamental spirit of chanoyu and can be seen to exude from the records of Sen Rikyu's approach to chanoyu. Over time, this mindset was recognized among tea practitioners and enthusiasts as something indispensable to the practice of chanoyu, and so it has been passed, heart to heart, generation to generation, to the present day. This phrase can have a rather burdensome image, as it is often interpreted as, "… being fully prepared to confront situations, aware that they are once in a lifetime." In reality, however, we can all easily live in a cycle of ichigo-ichie experiences as part of our daily routine without special preparations. It is simply a matter of taking in everything we encounter, touch, hear, see, and feel around us, moment to moment, without pretense.
        The Urasenke Konnichian website has been designed to provide lots of information to anyone interested in discovering about chado and the heart of Japan which it represents. I hope that each and every one of you can feel a personal connection with chado after accessing this website.






Profile

SEN Soshitsu XVI, Zabosai, was born in Kyoto on June 7, 1956, as the first-born son of SEN Soshitsu XV, Hounsai. The name he was given at birth is Masayuki. He is a graduate of the Department of Letters at Doshisha University, located in Kyoto. In 1982, on his twenty-sixth birthday, he was ordained as a Buddhist clergyman by Zen master NAKAMURA Sojun, chief abbot and master at the monks' training hall of Daitokuji temple, and received from him the Buddhist name Zabosai. On October 28th of that year, he was confirmed as heir apparent (wakasosho) of the Urasenke grand master (iemoto). Later, he undertook training under Zen master MORINAGA Soko of Myoshinji temple, and he has now become the resident abbot of Kyoshin'an, a temple of the Myoshinji branch of the Rinzai Zen sect. He officially succeeded his father as lord of the Konnichian estate, and became the 16th-generation grand master of the Urasenke chado tradition, on the 22nd of December, 2002. As the Urasenke grand master, he acquired the hereditary name Soshitsu.
     Grand Master SEN Soshitsu XVI exercises authority within the Urasenke organization as chairman of the Urasenke Foundation (Ippan Zaidan Hojin Konnichian) and president of the Urasenke Tankokai Federation (Ippan Shadan Hojin Chado Urasenke Tankokai). Through his roles in these posts, he is striving to nurture able chado followers and teachers. In the field of education, he also holds a professorial post at the Kyoto University of Art and Design, teaching in the Department of Historical Heritage, and is a visiting colleague at Nankai University and Beijing Foreign Studies University, China.







Greetings from SEN Genshitsu (Soshitsu XV)

Sen Genshitu


Chado, or the Way of Tea, is a comprehensive cultural practice that embraces the arts, religion, philosophy, social life — virtually every aspect of life. A practice such as this is truly rare. The ideals underlying the Way of Tea are known in Japanese as Wa, Kei, Sei, Jaku. In English, these are Harmony, Respect, Purity, and Tranquility. Over the past sixty years, I have personally sought to impart the spirit of this Way to people worldwide, expressing my goal through the phrase, "Peacefulness through a Bowl of Tea." I sincerely hope that, through this Urasenke Konnichian web site, knowledge of chado will reach far and wide around the globe, and its ideals might further contribute to the attainment of genuine World Peace and Happiness, the mutual goal of all humanity.





Profile


SEN Genshitsu was Urasenke iemoto for thirty-eight years, up to the end of 2002, when he transferred the iemoto position and the hereditary name Soshitsu that goes with it to his elder son, Zabosai. At that time, he changed his own name from Soshitsu to Genshitsu, and he became referred to by the title Daisosho, signifying his status as the once grand master.
           He was born in Kyoto on April 19, 1923, as the first son of the 14th-generation Urasenke iemoto, Mugensai. His given name was Masaoki. After serving in the airforce division of the Japanese navy during WWII, and then completing his temporarily interrupted university education at Doshisha University, Kyoto, graduating from the Faculty of Economics, he took Buddhist vows under GOTO Zuigan, chief abbot of Daitokuji temple, and received the Buddhist names Hounsai Genshu Soko. In 1950, he was confirmed as heir apparent of Mugensai, and thus became referred to by the title Wakasosho. He made his first trip abroad that year, to Hawaii and the USA, and since then he has made more than three hundred trips abroad and been to more than sixty countries. He lived in Hawaii in 1952, during which time he lectured at and also took courses at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, beginning his long and dedicated association with that university. In 1953, soon after the Urasenke membership organization, Tankokai, was authorized as a non-profit legal body, he became its president. Upon Mugensai's death in 1964, he succeeded as the 15th-generation Urasenke iemoto, Hounsai. He holds a Ph.D. from Nankai University, China, awarded to him in 1991 for his successful defense of his thesis concerning the influence of the Cha Jing, by Lu Yu (8th c.), on the development of Japan's chado culture, and a Litt.D. from Chung-Ang University, Korea, awarded to him in 2008.
          Among his many international contributions in the field of academics, he endowed the Soshitsu Sen XV Distinguished Professorship of Traditional Japanese History and Culture as well as the Dr. Soshitsu Sen International Way of Tea Center within the Center for Japanese Studies at the University of Hawaii, and the Soshitsu Sen XV Distinguished Lectures on Japanese Culture at the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University, New York.
           He is Honorary Consul of Peru in Kyoto, and in the past, served as Honorary Consul of Portugal in Kyoto (1969-1982) and Honorary Consul-General of Italy in Kyoto (1982-93). He has been a dynamic member of the Rotary International, formerly serving as R.I. Director (1988-90) and Rotary Foundation Trustee (1998-2002). He is widely known as a global-minded promoter both of the culture embraced by the Way of Tea and of World Peace. Among his many awards and recognitions, in 1997, he was awarded the Order of Culture by the Emperor of Japan; and in 2020, the French government awarded him with the Ordre National de la Légion d'honneur, rank of Commandeur.
          Currently, within the Urasenke organization, he is President of the Urasenke Tankokai Federation, and President of the Junior College of the Urasenke Way of Tea at the Tianjin University of Commerce. Among his many positions outside the Urasenke organization, he is Advisor to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan (appointed April 2017), UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador (appointment by UNESCO, March 2012), and Japan-U.N. Goodwill Ambassador (Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, September 2005), as well as Chairman of the Rotary Japan Foundation, President of the United Nations Association of Japan, President of the Kyoto City International Foundation, Director of the Kyoto Municipal General Center for Lifelong Learning, and President of the Japan Equestrian Federation.


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