Soshin Kawamura pours water during a tatezomi-shiki tea ceremony as the Chado Urasenke Tankokai Los Angeles Association held its 2023 New Year’s luncheon on Jan. 15 at the Doubletree Hotel in Little Tokyo. It was the first time since 2020 that the group has gathered for the celebration.

By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS, Rafu Staff Writer

Mme. Soshin Kawamura prepares tea in the traditional ceremonial fashion.

“We must see each day as a precious gift.”

The sentiment from Sohaku Robert Hori was shared by practically all of the 100 or so guests who gathered Jan. 15 for a Hatsudateshiki – New Year’s luncheon – at the DoubleTree Hotel in Little Tokyo.

Hori is the president of Chado Urasenke Tankokai Los Angeles Association, an organization dedicated to the ancient way of chado, the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. After being forced to cancel their annual January gathering for 2021 and 2022, he voiced the club’s delight at simply being able to see one another in person.

“We are so very grateful to be able to get together after three long years,” he said.

The event featured guests in kimono, traditional Japanese art and floral arrangements, and the introduction of incoming club officers, including the first Japanese American to serve as chief of administration in the organization’s 70-year history.

Mme. Soyu Koizumi gives Deputy Consul General Naoshige Aoshima a quick lesson in proper chado etiquette.
New Chief of Administration Mme. Soshin Abe with husband Paul.

“The precious nature of chado lies in that it involves so many aspects of Japanese culture,” said Los Angeles native Ann Abe, who bears the title of Soshin. “Ceramics, floral, calligraphy, philosophy and architecture are all represented.”

Abe became interested in chado when she was in junior high school, and studied under Sosei Matsumoto, the revered instructor who was the first Nisei to organize a tea ceremony organization in Los Angeles. Sosei Matsumoto was active with the group until the age of 104.

Kampai! Drinking a toast to the new year.

“This really is an elegant bridge between cultures, after originally being geared for Japanese natives,” Abe explained about the association’s evolution. “Now we are more diverse, more inclusive, sharing culture and all that comes with it.”

Incoming club officers and special guests.
Many attendees wore formal kimono.
The ceremonial matcha used in tea ceremony.

Rafu photos by MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS and JUN NAGATA

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