SEN Genshitsu Visits Los Angeles
Urasenke Daisosho SEN Genshitsu traveled to Los Angeles County in So. California, USA, from May 22 to May 26, 2015, to participate in the 3rd Urasenke North America Representatives' Convention and to present a special program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in conjunction with the "Raku: The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl" exhibition (LACMA Pavilion for Japanese Art, March 29-June 7, 2015). Visiting from Kyoto at this time, also, were Mrs. RAKU Fujiko, wife of RAKU Kichizaemon XV, and their elder son, Atsundo.

• The 3rd Urasenke North America Representatives' Convention
• Special Program in Conjunction with the "Raku: The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl" Exhibition

The Japanese Gardens at The Huntington, San Marino

The 3rd Urasenke North America Representatives' Convention was held on Saturday, May 23, at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in the city of San Marino. The Japanese Gardens at The Huntington are the site of the Seifuan tea house which has deep connections to Urasenke. Preceding the convention, Daisosho, joined by Consul-General HORINOUCHI Hidehisa and wife, HORINOUCHI Sabine, from the Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles, Mrs. Raku, Director HARA Hideki of the Japan Foundation Los Angeles, Director James FOLSOM of The Huntington Botanical Gardens, Director and Chief Curator Robert SINGER of the LACMA Pavilion for Japanese Art, and several others, enjoyed a bowl of tea at a tea gathering hosted by the Chado Urasenke Tankokai Los Angeles Association (Tankokai LA Assn.) at the Seifuan, with Tankokai LA Assn. Chief of Administration Yuko UYESUGI conducting the tea-making (temae). The Urasenke North America representatives who had come for the convention also enjoyed a bowl of tea hosted by the Tankokai LA Assn., at the tea gathering venue in the roomier Japan House within the Japanese Gardens, and received a guided tour of the Seifuan. In a different area, they were also served a bento lunch as a part of the tea-gathering hospitality provided by the Tankokai LA Assn.

Daisosho sits as first guest at the tea gathering in the Seifuan. Exterior view of the Seifuan tea house at The Huntington.

The representatives' convention was from 3:00, and had an attendance of 70 officers as well as some non-officer members representing 29 of the 38 Tankokai associations in the North America region (USA and Canada). In his opening address, Daisosho (President, Urasenke Tankokai Federation) encouraged them to offer opinions and suggestions for Urasenke's further development in North America.

Scene at the representatives' convention. Daisosho addresses the assembly.

HIROTA Kayoko, SEKINE Hideji, and Robert HORI

Tankokai LA Assn. Vice-President Robert HORI (Cultural Curator of the Japanese Gardens at The Huntington) was chosen to be the convention chairperson. Following reports by Urasenke Tankokai Federation Vice-Chair SEKINE Hideji and Chado Urasenke North America (NA) Head Office Chief HIROTA Kayoko about recent developments at Urasenke Headquarters and the NA Head Office, the first discussion topic on the agenda concerned a proposal to establish an advisory body for the NA Head Office. The proposal received unanimous consent, whereupon a selection committee was formed to nominate the initial advisory body members. Daisosho announced the names of their nominees and, by unanimous consent, appointed those people to serve as members of the advisory body. Among them, he appointed Robert HORI to serve as head of the advisory body. The appointed members (in alphabetical order) were Andre GAUVIN (President, Chado Urasenke Tankokai Quebec Association), Kimiko GUNJI (President, Chado Urasenke Tankokai Urbana-Champaign Association), Mioko MILLER (Chief of Administration, Chado Urasenke Tankokai Washington D.C. Association), Wayne MUROMOTO (Chief of Administration, Chado Urasenke Tankokai Hawaii Association), Hiroko NABETA (Chief of Administration, Chado Urasenke Tankokai Dallas/Fort Worth Association and Chado Urasenke Tankokai Michigan Association), and Glenn PEREIRA (Chief of Administration, Chado Urasenke Tankokai Boston Association).
        The second discussion topic, introduced by NA Head Office Chief Hirota, was about how Urasenke's Tankokai associations in North America are operated. Mioko MILLER gave a presentation for this, describing the case of the Tankokai Washington D.C. Association, which has as its activity center the Chado Urasenke Washington D.C. Center that Urasenke established in downtown Washington D.C. in March of 2012.
        Another discussion topic concerned a proposal to create a Tankokai North America Associations contact list which the associations could share, to facilitate their inter-association activities. This proposal won enthusiastic unanimous consent.
        The final part of the program consisted in case reports. Speaking on chado education at a university was Kimiko GUNJI, whose Tankokai Urbana-Champaign Association is centered at the Japan House, on the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University of Illinois. Mamiko KONISHI spoke about her Tankokai Montreal Association's connections with the local community. Robert HORI presented a report about the traveling chado workshops which have been held for the Tankokai Los Angeles Association by Konnichian deputy tea masters (gyotei) sent from Urasenke headquarters, Kyoto.


Kimiko GUNJI Robert HORI

Following the closing remarks, everyone moved to the new Steven S. Koblik Education and Visitor Center at The Huntington, for a buffet-style dinner reception hosted by the Tankokai LA Assn. to welcome Daisosho. There were approximately 250 attendees, including Consul-General Horinouchi with his wife, Pasadena Mayor Terry TORNEK with his wife, San Marino Mayor Eugene SUN, and many other special guests. From the Mayor of Los Angeles, Daisosho was presented with a certificate expressing praise for Daisosho's achievements.

Daisosho presented a special program in conjunction with the "Raku: The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl" exhibition at the LACMA on Sunday, May 24, at the museum's Bing Theater. Upon his arrival at the museum, Daisosho received a tour of the Raku exhibition, guided by RAKU Fujiko and Atsundo, together with the exhibition's curator, Robert SINGER. Among the featured examples of tea bowls by the earliest Raku potter, Chojiro, there were two—the "Tarobo" and the "Shirasagi"—which Daisosho had specially lent from the collection of the Urasenke Foundation.

Entrance to the LACMA Pavilion for Japanese Art Daisosho sees his Raku Chojiro tea bowl "Shirasagi"
on display

The Bing Theater program began with a musical dedication of Japan's representative melody, "Sakura, Sakura," and the American patriotic melody, "America the Beautiful," performed by a koto and harp duo. Daisosho then came onto the stage, sat at the tea-making table (tenchaban), and, as the nearly six hundred people in the audience watched in reverent silence, solemnly prepared a tea offering dedicated to continuing harmonious Japan-US relations and World Peace. Ten special guests were then invited to take seats on the stage, for a "Wago-no-chakai," consisting in the sharing of koicha (matcha of thick consistency) prepared by Daisosho, in an expression of harmony and friendship. They included Consul-General Horinouchi and his wife; Nobel Prize Laureate Shuji NAKAMURA, of the University of California at Santa Barbara; LACMA Trustee and Former US Ambassador to the Bahamas, Nicole AVANT; Chado Urasenke Tankokai Los Angeles Association Honorary President Glenn WEBB; Japan Foundation Los Angeles Director Hideki HARA; Rotary International District Governor Elsa GILLHAM; Director James FOLSOM of The Huntington Botanical Gardens; Board of Overseers Member Toshie MOSHER of The Huntington; and WWII Veteran Richard (Dick) WAYNE. When they had finished sharing the tea, Daisosho and then Consul-General Horinouchi presented addresses. With this, the curtains closed, to prepare the stage for Daisosho's lecture and the chanoyu demonstration which would follow. MC Robert SINGER meanwhile talked to the audience about the Raku exhibition.

Koto and harp duo open the program

Tea offering ceremony for Japan-US comity
and World Peace
Special guests on the stage for the "Wago-no-chakai"

The bowl of koicha is shared, passed from hand to hand Daisosho invites the audience to experience the cosmos
in a bowl of tea

Consul-General HORINOUCHI Hidehisa gives an address The MC, LACMA Japan Pavilion Director Robert SINGER

The lecture by Daisosho centered on his various experiences with Raku tea bowls ever since he was preparing to have his very first chanoyu lesson when he was just six years old, and his thoughts about the nature of this kind of hand-molded tea bowl which the founder of his family, SEN Rikyu, created together with Chojiro in the late 1500s. Before he closed and turned the podium over to Konnichian Deputy Tea Master YAMAMOTO Sochi, who would provide the explanations while a team of five gave a demonstration of a simple style of tea gathering (chakai), Daisosho urged the audience to have a sweet and bowl of tea afterwards, at the special room arranged for this by the Chado Urasenke Tankokai Association, and "experience the cosmos in a bowl of tea."

Daisosho presents lecture Narrated demonstration of a simple tea gathering

Approximately 600 people attended the program