42nd Urasenke Hawaii Seminar (July 2014)

As in past years since the first Urasenke Hawaii Seminar took place in 1972, many members from the Urasenke Tankokai chapters in Japan joined in a tour to Hawaii to participate in this annual seminar. This year, there were also four members of the Tankokai Vancouver Association who flew in from Vancouver to participate. Daisosho Genshitsu SEN was present and led the events, as has been his practice since the first seminar. The dates this year were July 18 to July 25, and there were altogether seventy-eight participants, including nine invited high school and college students who study Urasenke Chado as one of their school activities in Japan. Mr. Michio AJITO (President, Urasenke Tankokai Koriyama Chapter) served as group leader for all the participants. In addition to the regular itinerary, there was a side trip to the Big Island this time, for a special memorial service led by Daisosho in honor of the original Japanese immigrants to that island.

The group tour flights from Japan reached Honolulu before noon on Friday July 18. All the seminar participants convened at the Outrigger Reef on the Beach hotel for an initial meeting over lunch. Daisosho was there to welcome them, and this meeting gave everyone a chance to get acquainted with each other. The next morning, the Urasenke Tankokai Hawaii Association (UTHA) hosted a friendship chakai and luncheon for them at the Japanese Cultural Center (JCC), site of the Seikoan tea room.

In the Seikoan tea room at the JCC, where UTHA members served omogashi (moist confections) and koicha (thick tea) to the seminar participants. Daisosho is the first guest and UTHA President Akemi KUROKAWA sits beside him at the ryurei tea service area.

Sunday July 20 was the first of the two successive mornings of lectures at the East-West Center on the Manoa campus of the University of Hawaii. Daisosho presented opening words, and then led the first session, which took the form of a chanoyu workshop. It began with his explanation of the Kinin Kiyotsugu chanoyu procedure, with emphasis on the concept of "kinin" (nobleman) and the significance of this chanoyu procedure. After this, five members of the UTHA performed a Kinin Kiyotsugu Kagetsu group chanoyu exercise on the stage, and Konnichian deputy tea master SUMI Soko provided narration. Next, five volunteers among the seminar participants performed a plain Kagetsu group chanoyu exercise. The second session during this morning consisted in a lecture and slide show about the history of Japanese immigration to Hawaii, presented by history lecturer Kelli NAKAMURA, who is a history lecturer at the University of Hawaii.

Daisosho explains about Kinin Kiyotsugu.Kinin Kiyotsu Kagetsu demonstration.

Lecture by Kelli Nakamura.

The second morning of lectures, Daisosho delivered a talk about the spiritual nature of the Way of Tea, in which he described a number of episodes from his personal experience. The second lecture was by Victoria KEENER, who is a Fellow at the East-West Center. She spoke on the impact of the changing climate in the Pacific Basin, and presented information on how the changes are effecting the growth of tea plants.

Daisosho gives talk about the spirit of Tea.Victoria Keener speaks about the changing climate.

Seminar completion certificates.

Following this, the seminar participants received certificates of seminar completion from Urasenke, the University of Hawaii Outreach College, and the East-West Center. They could then go for lunch at the school cafeteria, and in the afternoon, they were welcomed as guests at a chakai hosted for them by the University of Hawaii Chado Club. The venue for this was the Jakuan tea house which stands on the campus and which normally serves as the club's practice room. At the East-West Center which is adjacent to the Jakuan, alumni members of the Chado Club provided ryurei style tea service for the seminar participants.

Chakai at the Jakuan tea house.The ryurei venue at the East-West Center.

The evening of July 21, Daisosho hosted a grand banquet at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, at which there were approximately three hundred guests. They included Japanese Consul-General Toyoei SHIGEEDA and Mrs. Shigeeda, Former Hawaii Governor George ARIYOSHI and Mrs. Ariyoshi, and Chancellor Tom APPLE of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, among many other special guests, together with UTHA officers and members and the seminar participants.

Seminar group leader Michio AJITO offers the toast at the banquet.

Tuesday July 22 was the day of the special memorial service on the Big Island. It took place in front of the monument dedicated to deceased Japanese immigrants which stands at Alae Cemetery, where many first-generation Japanese immigrants are buried. For the special memorial this day, Mayor William KENOI of the County of Hawaii gave a welcome speech, and he also presented Daisosho with a certificate of appreciation. Other special attendees included President Hiroshi SUGA of the Japanese Community Association of Hawaii, and Mrs. Patricia ABE, who is a descendant of the late Senator Sanji ABE who built the monument seventy-five years ago. Thirty-four of the seminar participants also took part in this service, at which Daisosho prepared a tea offering and placed it before the monument. Everyone made a prayer together with him, after which the main guests each made a flower offering.

Mayor Kenoi presents words of welcome.Daisosho places the tea offering before the monument.

The attendees make a prayer together with Daisosho.

There was a luncheon after this at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, and then a friendship exchange chakai arranged by the Tankokai Hilo Asssociation at the Shoroan tea house which is located in Lilliuokalani Park.

Daisosho and local leaders of the Japanese community enjoy a bowl of tea at the Shoroan.Nodate outdoor tea service nearby the Shoroan at Lilliuokalani Park.

On Wednesday July 23, returning to Honolulu the seminar participants could stop by the Han'yoan tea room at the Urasenke Hawaii Branch and enjoy a bowl of tea served by members of the UTHA. In the evening, there was a poolside Sayonara Party at the Breakers Hotel next door to the Urasenke Hawaii Branch, to mark the end of the 42nd Urasenke Hawaii Seminar. It was a jolly evening, with Hawaiian music and hula dancing, impressing on the group tour participants that their memorable visit to Hawaii was coming to a close.