There’s big news for our tea group that as of today is officially official: We have been approved as a kyokai, that is, a chapter of our parent school, Urasenke.
What does this mean in laypeople’s terms? First of all, it’s recognition for our group. Rather than our tea students and teachers being members of Urasenke New York, we’re an independent organization, which means little things like being invited to official Urasenke events in the U.S. and abroad, and big things like being able to send our students to study in the main school in Kyoto. It means some responsibilities, like maintaining a high profile in the Philadelphia area and continuing to reach out and do demonstrations, gatherings, and be involved in the community. It also means some benefits, like getting referrals from Kyoto and also support for our classes.
We’ve been working on this for a while now, and after some false starts and a lot of preparation, our application was approved this summer, with our official start date being today, September 1, 2012.
It’s especially apropos because it was twenty-five years ago—to the month, actually—that Brother Joseph Keenan officially established the tea group at La Salle University that would become our kyokai. He passed on a few years back, but I’d like to think that he’s watching over us, and that he’ll be there in spirit when we celebrate our inauguration as Chado Urasenke Tankokai Philadelphia. (I know, it’s a mouthful, right? But that’s the naming convention established by Urasenke, and if you know anything about Japanese culture, you know that the keyword is “conformity.” Just call us Urasenke Philadelphia. It feels good to be saying that after all these years!)