The Way of Tea: An Exhibition Commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Urasenke Tankokai Hawaii Association

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    Eiraku tea bowl.

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    Red raku tea bowl.

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    Sake pourer.

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    Tea scoop.

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July 21, 2011 - October 02, 2011
Gallery 14

Exhibition Overview

The Way of Tea, or chadō, is one of the most quintessential manifestations of traditional Japanese culture. The Urasenke Foundation, which traces its lineage back to the great 16th-century tea master Sen Rikyū (1522-1591), has been a leading advocate for the continuing relevance of this art form in the modern era. Through the efforts of the 15th grand master of Urasenke, Hōunsai Genshitsu Sen (Soshitsu XV) and his son the 16th and current grand master, Zabōsai Soshitsu Sen XVI, direct descendants of Sen Rikyū, chadō has been transformed from a cultural practice with ancient roots unique to Japan into an international phenomenon, with numerous overseas branches and the Urasenke Junior College of the Way of Tea in Tianjin, China.

Dr. Genshitsu Sen's motto, "peacefulness through a bowl of tea," has taken on a worldwide significance. A special tea ceremony for world peace will be held at the Arizona Memorial in Hawaii in July 2011, immediately followed by this  exhibition on chadō at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Dr. Genshitsu Sen has a long connection with Hawaii that dates back to the 1950s, when he lived here and attended the University of Hawaii.

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Urasenke Tankokai Hawaii Association, Dr. Genshitsu Sen and Soshitsu Sen have personally chosen historic chadō articles for this exhibition. These items will illustrate the chaji, or "tea function," in which the spiritual principles of chadō (derived from Zen Buddhism) are given concrete form through the unique moments of interaction between host and guests. Among the artworks included in the exhibition will be calligraphy by previous Urasenke grand masters, chadō articles favored by these masters, and rare tea bowls and other items ranging in date from the 16th century—during the time of Sen Rikyū—to the 21st century, in particular examples of tea bowls from the Raku kiln, which shares an intimate history with Urasenke dating back to the beginning of both traditions. This exhibition will be an extraordinary opportunity to experience a tradition with nearly five centuries of history, through the selections and connoisseurship of two of its greatest living masters.

The Honolulu Academy of Arts would like to express its appreciation to the Urasenke Foundation and the Urasenke Tankokai Hawaii Assocation for their generous support of this exhibition, and to Dr. Hōunsai Genshitsu Sen, Zabōsai Soshitsu Sen XVI, Curator Mochihara Tomoko and Mr. Ogawa Yoshibumi for their involvement in the planning of the exhibition.