by Kate Hoving
On October 27, 2016, the Reves Center sponsored a rare experience on campus: a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony conducted by a renowned Tea Master and his students.
It is thanks to Larry Wilkerson, Distinguished Visiting Adjunct Professor of International Relations, that the Dogwood Room at the School of Education was transformed for an afternoon into a Japanese Tea Room. Wilkerson met Takashi Ohde, Instructor at Gakushuin Women’s College, when Ohde lived in McLean, Virginia, from 2003-2014. Ohde contacted Wilkerson with an offer to host an authentic Tea Ceremony at William & Mary, and Wilkerson in turn reached out to Steve Hanson and the Reves Center to make it happen.
Gakushuin has long been respected as the institution where members of the Imperial family including the present Emperor and Crown Prince pursued their studies.
To put the ceremony in the appropriate context of Japanese history and culture, the ceremony was preceded by a talk by Gakushuin Professor Akira Amagasaki on Visible and invisible: Aesthetics in Japanese Art.
Tea Master Soju Nakazawa led the Tea Ceremony. Born in 1970, in Tokyo, Nakazawa grew up with Japanese traditional cultures, especially on the tea culture, under the strong influence of his grandmother and mother who were tea masters, as well as of his relatives, such as the Kabuki star, Gonjuro Kawarazaki III, and Tokuho Azuma, a grand master of Japanese classical dance.
Takehiro Watanabe, a visiting legal scholar from Japan at William & Mary Law School, attended the lecture and demonstration, he said, because it’s actually uncommon now to experience a traditional tea ceremony in Japan. He noted there was some irony in the fact that he had to come all the way to Williamsburg to see one.