Chado Urasenke Tankokai Seattle 40th Anniversary

This year marks the Chado Urasenke Tankokai Seattle Association’s 40th Anniversary.  Chado, also called Chanoyu or Sado is Japanese Tea Ceremony or Way of Tea.

Chado in Seattle began in the 1930’s when Madam Kiyomi Otani began teaching in her home.  Then during WWII, the Japanese were sent to internment camps.  But that didn’t stop Madame Otani and her group of students, who continued to study tea while being interned.  They substituted the equipment with whatever they had on hand, for example they used a man’s shaving brush in place of a chasen, which is a bamboo whisk used to mix the tea. After the war, she continued to teach and upon retirement she and her husband returned to Japan in 1969.  A handful of her students continued to teach, passing on the traditions of tea ceremony.

At the 40th Anniversary, there were five wonderful women who were recognized for their contribution over 40 years to spread and preserve the tea culture in Seattle:  Chieko Becker, Aiko Fujii, Mitsuko Gale, Reiko Mihara and Florence Sumida.  From all of us at the Chado Urasenki Tankokai Seattle Association, we say thank you and gokuro sama.  I am most fortunate and grateful to have three these five women as my teachers.  The women I have met through tea all continue to stay connected to the culture of Japan, as it’s a part of who they are and a part of their life.  I sincerely hope that the next generation will continue the traditions.   In this fast paced lifestyle of the information age, tea ceremony is a slow quiet process, a yin to the yang.  Maybe more people will come to appreciate  this wonderful culture of the past.

Growing up in a time of peace, it is so hard to comprehend the suffering that many of these first and second generation Japanese went through.  My parents are from Hawaii, so again, their experience of WWII is very different from the Japanese who lived on the West Coast.  I am just amazed at the strength of these men and women who were so innocent yet were interned, but they never gave up on who they were and kept their culture and traditions even in such circumstances.  Over the last few years I have had the pleasure to get to know many of these elderly Japanese who have shared their interesting life stories with me.  Each and everyone of them have a special story of immigration and how they grew up.  I hope to share some of their stories with you on my blog in the near future.  To all of them, thank you.



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2 Comments

  1. I read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford, in our book club. Our members belong to a quilt guild and we plan to create quilts using themes from this book. I would like to focus on the history, and call my quilt: We all come with baggage. I visualize a suitcase for Henry, Keiko, and Sheldon…on the suitcases are pictures that represent each of their interests or history (like travel stickers). Do you know where I might find some free images (could have copyrights, and I would have to ask permission or pay for permission)? I enjoyed your series. I did not realize that not all Japanese were sent to camp. Thanks for your help. Sharon

  2. Hi Sharon,
    Quilts are wonderful and I love the name of your quilt! I’m not sure what kind of images you are looking for. Photos of people or things of that period. For those incarcerated, there is a non-profit site called Densho: http://www.densho.org which is the Japanese American legacy project. You can also Google Japantown Seattle 1940 and you will get lots of images.
    Other Japanese images that may be interesting are family crests, which we call “kamon”, these have no copyright issues, as they are historical. For Henry and Sheldon you can find images of 1940 Seattle that may be interesting. Best, Jenny

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