47th Urasenke Hawaii Seminar

July 18-25, 2019, Urasenke's annual seminar in Hawaii took place for the forty-seventh time, with Daisosho Genshitsu SEN (Daisosho is his title as Urasenke Iemoto Elder, the former Urasenke Iemoto) in attendance and Urasenke Tankokai Federation Advisor Kishichiro AMAE serving as group leader. This seminar gives Urasenke chado followers from Japan an opportunity to hear lectures at the Manoa Campus of the University of Hawaii, enjoy the chado hospitality of their fellow Urasenke chado followers of Hawaii, and generally experience the tropical island atmosphere of Hawaii together with Daisosho. This year, there were 107 registrants, plus eight invited students who belong to Urasenke's Gakko Chado program at their respective college or high school in Japan.
       The history of this seminar goes back to the year 1972, when Daisosho, as the then Urasenke iemoto, driven then as now to promoting cultural understanding between the people of Japan and people internationally, donated a tea house and Japanese-style garden for its setting to the University of Hawaii. He named the tea house "Jakuan" and the garden "Seien," and to attend the grand opening of these, a large group of Urasenke followers, organized by Urasenke Headquarters in Kyoto, were there from Japan. They heard speeches at the university and took part in a number of cultural and social exchange activities. Their trip to Hawaii represented the 1st Urasenke Hawaii Seminar.
       The 47th Urasenke Hawaii Seminar coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Urasenke Tankokai Maui Association, and registrants who were on the full-length seminar plan had the option of traveling to Maui to participate in the events organized to celebrate that special anniversary.

Inaugural Meeting (July 18)
Most of the participants from Japan flew to Hawaii together on a flight departing from either Tokyo or Osaka, and arrived the morning of July 18. They all then met at the Halekulani Hotel which is situated along Waikiki Beach, for an inaugural meeting and luncheon. This get-together gave them the opportunity to meet Daisosho and introduce themselves.

Group Leader Kishichiro AMAE at the inaugural meeting. Daisosho at the inaugural meeting, getting to know the invited students

Friendship Chakai and Luncheon Hosted by the Tankokai Hawaii Association (July 19)
The morning of July 19, the seminar registrants went to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii (JCCH), for a Friendship Chakai hosted by the Urasenke Tankokai Hawaii Association. The Urasenke-donated Seikoan tea room on the top floor of the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Building at the center served as the venue for koicha (thick tea), and the lounge adjacent to it for ryurei-style usucha (thin tea).

In the JCCH Seikoan

In the JCCH Lounge

A luncheon party hosted by the Urasenke Tankokai Hawaii Association then was held at the Hale Koa Hotel.
Urasenke Tankokai Hawaii Association President Dennis OGAWA gives a welcoming speech at the luncheon party

Lecture Program, First Day (July 20)
The lecture program took place the next two mornings, at the East-West Center's Keoni Auditorium. After presenting an opening address, Daisosho gave the first lecture, in which he talked about Urasenke and the history of chanoyu, and said that Japan's new Reiwa Era, hopefully, would become an era in which speaking incessantly of "Peace" were no longer necessary. His audience appeared to be deeply drawn into what he had to say.

The second lecture was by Kayla BRIGNAC, who is a researcher at Hawaii Pacific University's Center for Marine Debris Research. In easy-to-understand terms, she explained about the pressing problem of plastic debris in the ocean.

That evening, Daisosho hosted his traditional Urasenke Hawaii Seminar gala banquet at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, inviting all the seminar participants and many members of the Urasenke community of Hawaii. Among the special guests were Consul-General Koichi ITO and his wife, of the Japanese Consulate General in Honolulu; Mr. Ed CASE and his wife, of the Hawaii House of Representatives; Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark RECKTENWALD and his wife; and Maui Mayor Mike VICTORINO and his wife. There were approximately 290 attendees in all.

Daisosho at the banquet Consul-General Koichi ITO raises a toast

Lecture Program, Second Day (July 21)
As special guest lecturer from Japan, the Japanese chef Hirohisa KOYAMA, who is the third-generation proprietor of the traditional Japanese restaurant Ryotei Aoyagi in Tokyo, and who has won accolades in France for his work there teaching about Japanese cuisine, presented a talk entitled "Mizuya no yume" (A Mizuya Worker's Dream). In it, he explained about his own activities in France and other countries outside Japan teaching about Japanese cuisine, and he went on to explain about the fundamental elements of chakaiseki cuisine.

Next, Dr. Deane NEUBAUER, who is a Senior Fellow at the East-West Center, gave a lecture entitled "Donald Trump's America." From his perspective as a political scientist, he explained about the government of the USA since President Trump took office.

This ended the Urasenke Hawaii Seminar lecture program, and at the closing ceremony the attendees filed onto the stage and each individually received a certificate from Daisosho, a certificate from the University of Hawaii's Outreach College, and another from the East-West Center, as proof of their participation in this program.

After this, the seminar registrants could further enjoy the Manoa campus atmosphere by walking to the cafeteria and having lunch there. Then they participated in a Friendship Exchange chakai hosted by the university's chado club and its alumni members.

The Jakuan Tea House Venue
Entrance sign of the Seien garden, with the Jakuan tea house seen in the background

Here, current chado club members were the hosts

The East-West Center Venue
Here, alumni members of the chado club were the hosts

July 22 and 23
Those who had come on the seven-day plan boarded their flights back to Japan on July 22, while those on the nine-day plan flew to Maui on an overnight trip to participate in the Tankokai Maui Association's 30th anniversary celebrations.

Reaching Maui early in the day, they divided into two groups to be taken sightseeing around the island, and then went to the Marriot Hotel, where they were among the guests at a commemorative ryurei-style (i.e., style in which the host and guests are seated on chairs) chakai.

From 5:30 in the evening, the same room at the Marriot became the venue for the Tankokai Maui Association's 30th anniversary celebration dinner party. In addition to Daisosho, the special guests included Maui Mayor Mike VICTORINO and his wife, and Chancellor Emeritus Clyde SAKAMOTO of the University of Hawaii's Maui College. The association's President, Sachiko LANE-YAMAMOTO, presented a greeting speech. Daisosho, also, offered a greeting speech, and presented the Association with commemorative gifts. Maui Mayor Victorino, representing the County of Maui, presented the Association with a Certificate of Appreciation for the contributions that the Association has made to Maui over the association's 30-year history. The Mayor handed the certificate to Daisosho, who was delighted to be asked by him to represent the Association in receiving it.

Tankokai Maui President LANE-YAMAMOTO Maui Mayor Mike VICTORINO and Daisosho

Tea Dedication Ceremony

The commemorative events for the 30th anniversary of the Tankokai Maui Association included a tea dedication ceremony (kenchashiki) conducted by Daisosho from 10:00 the next morning, July 23, at the Rinzai Maui Zen Mission's Myoshinji temple. The Reverend Ryozo YAMAGUCHI led Daisosho to the tea-making table which had been arranged near the altar, and as all the attendees respectfully watched on, Daisosho solemnly prepared a bowl of tea to be placed before the altar, in memory of the first Japanese immigrants to Maui.

Having returned to Honolulu the evening of the 23rd, the seminar registrants could spend some of July 24, their last full day in Hawaii, at the Han'yoan tea room within the Urasenke Hawaii Branch quarters, located next door to their hotel, The Breakers Hotel at Waikiki, and enjoy the chado hospitality of the Urasenke Tankokai Hawaii Association members.

That evening, a fun-filled poolside "Sayonara Party" was held at The Breakers.

The Gakko Chado students give a fun performance they had worked up A local hula dance teacher leads volunteers in trying out a hula dance

Next year, 2020, in order to avoid overlapping with the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Urasenke Hawaii Seminar is tentatively scheduled to be held earlier than usual, from July 10 to July 16.