The Midorikai Celebrates 50th Anniversary in Kyoto

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From June 26 (Mon) through June 30 (Fri), 2023, commemorative events were held at Urasenke headquarters and other sites in Kyoto, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Urasenke Gakuen Professional College of Chadō’s “Midorikai” training course for non-Japanese students from abroad (established in 1973). Sixty-three members of the Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association (UMAA) gathered from around the world to participate in these commemorative events.

Lecture by Iemoto SEN Sōshitsu
The first event on the official program was a lecture by Iemoto. In it, he talked about how, in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, such things as the kakufukudate style of koicha preparation and serving, and online chanoyu gatherings, had emerged as new branches from the strong roots and thick trunk of chadō. He also mentioned an episode from the chanoyu service he offered at the recent G7 Hiroshima Summit. He closed his lecture saying, “Like a node on a bamboo tree, the 50th anniversary is an auspicious juncture to pause, muster your strength, and move on to the next node. In your respective regions of the world, please increase the number of new [chadō] companions, and nurture successors who will serve as conduits to the next generation.”

Viewing the Chadō Research Center Exhibition
Following Iemoto’s lecture, the Vice Director of the Chadō Research Center, IZUMI Sōrei, explained about the exhibition that was going on in the Chadō Research Center galleries, which commemorated Daisōshō Hōunsai’s centennial birthday and was entitled “Hōunsai’s One Hundred Years.” The Midorikai alumni showed great interest when they went to view the exhibition.

UMAA Meeting
In the afternoon that first day, the alumni held a meeting to discuss about the alumni association’s activities and other related matters. It began with an opening greeting by the association’s honorary president, SAKATA Makiko. She encouraged the participants to “reexamine the foundations of Urasenke chadō in Japan after having been gone for some time, bring your newly acquired knowledge back to your home countries, and try to undertake activities that are unique to your respective countries.”

The business meeting itself then got underway, with UMAA board members moderating. There was a review of the association’s activities during the Corona-virus disaster, and a lively discussion on the future management and planning of the association.

Celebration Banquet
Daisōshō attended the celebration banquet that was held that evening. Along with bagpipe and guitar music, a surprise cake in the shape of a giant Raku tea bowl containing koicha tea came out, to celebrate Daisōshō’s 100th birthday. A congenial atmosphere pervaded the room as slide shows of the 50-year history of Daisōshō and the Midorikai were shown, and the participants deepened their friendships.

Intensive Study
The alumni split into two groups which, on one or the other of the next two days, June 27 (Tue) or 28 (Wed), they were able to visit the Konnichian historical compound in the morning to pay their respects at the Rikyū Altar Hall and view the tea rooms, and then receive temae instruction at the Chadō Kaikan if they had signed up for that. For the temae instruction, they were further divided into four groups, each taught by one of Iemoto’s deputy tea masters (gyōtei).

Visit to Daitokuji Jukōin and Kinmōkaku Gate
June 29 (Thu), the alumni spent the morning at Daitokuji temple, where they viewed the garden and rooms at Jukōin and paid their respects at the tombs of the Urasenke ancestors which are in the Jukōin cemetery, and also view the interior of the upper story of the Kinmōkaku Gate.

“Thank you” Chakai
The final day, June 30 (Fri), was the “Thank you” Chakai hosted by UMAA at the Kyoto International Community House. The Urasenke head family members who attended were Daisōshō, Madam SEN Masako, Wakasōshō, and ŌTANI Hiromi. To those who have supported the Midorikai over the years, the alumni served a heartful “thank you” bowl of tea, utilizing implements from countries around the world.