Traditional Japanese tea house celebrates 50 years at UH Mānoa
For half a century, the University of Hawaii in Manoa has taught thousands of students the art of the Japanese tea ceremony in a traditional tea house. The structure sits under sprawling trees in the scenic East-West Center Japanese Garden, where you can hear the faint sound of a bubbling koi pond. The zen atmosphere helps put students in a meditative state of mind before entering Jaku’an, the name of the Japanese tea house, which means “hut of tranquility”.
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The centuries-old structure was erected in 1972, after Genshitsu Sen, a 15th generation grand tea master, commissioned the construction of a chashitsu (authentic tea ceremony house) at Hawaii. First built in Japan and reassembled in HawaiiSen donated the structure to uh in an effort to carry out his life’s mission of fostering peace through the teaching of the tea ceremony.
“The teahouse is tranquil and separates us from our hectic daily lives, allowing us to reflect on ourselves,” said Akiko Onoa uh Mānoa instructor who teaches the Workshop on the way of tea. “Through this beautiful art form, we learn to be humble and to be respectful to nature and to each other.”
Way of Tea
The uh Mānoa has been offering courses in the path of tea ceremony since the 1970s, allowing students to study this deeply respected practice and its role in the history and culture of Japan. Ono worked alongside late tea ceremony instructor Urasenke Yoshibumi Ogawawho framed uh Mānoa students inside the tatami (straw mat) structure lined for more than 40 years. Ono has since taken up the torch, passing on Ogawa’s knowledge and the deeply rooted tradition of Japanese tea.
“At teas, you see hospitality expressed in so many ways through so many things,” Ono explained. “I would like my students to notice the little things around them, even if they seem insignificant at first sight, and learn to use their five senses fully to appreciate what they experience on a daily basis. »
Satsuma gayassociate director of Center for Japanese Studies fondly remembers taking the campus Way of Tea in Japanese History and Culture course as an undergraduate student in the mid-1980s.
“It was a wonderful experience to learn in an authentic teahouse,” Satsuma said. “At that time, I hadn’t visited Japan yet, so this experience in Jaku’an was like a window into the culture.”
In 2015, Jaku’an celebrated a reopening after undergoing renovations funded by Sen.
CJS is part of the uh Manoa Sschool of pacific and asian studies in the College of Arts, Languages and Letters.
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