A Taste of Zen: Meet a Japanese Tea Master
Simple Equations

Tamami Ushiki

Tamami Ushiki

Simple Equations

A Taste of Zen: Meet a Japanese Tea Master




Rediscover the space of tranquility with a Taste of Zen, by meeting a special Tea Master.


Maeshima (Sousu) Kotaro is traditionally trained in the Omote Senke School of Tea, starting at the age of 5, and has performed well over 600 Tea Ceremonies. He is also one of the most innovative and creative Tea Masters you could meet, who forms natural collaborations with modern architects, and the world of art ranging from Japanese Ancient JOMON Dwellings to leading edge Modern Art


He stays close to the spirit and tradition of Rinzai Zen, working closely with Zen Master Furukawa at Erinji Temple in Yamanashi. 


Maeshima Sensei also speaks English, but leads with questions to engage the senses of the participants. For several years now I have collaborated with Maeshima Sensei to find ways to make this magic experience of Japanese Tea Culture accessible to English speaking Japanese and foreign students at the University where I teach, the International College of Liberal Arts (iCLA) near Mt Fuji, and we have done many events both at Erinji Temple and on our campus.


We had talked about creating an Online Tea Ceremony for some time, so that we could make it accessible to English speaking people who could not physically attend. Now circumstances in countries around the world have forced people to seek cultural experience online, and this has been a serious challenge to artists and musicians around the world.


However, for us it has pushed us in the direction that we had already been moving, albeit dragging our feet. 


We have refined the process of presenting Japanese Tea Ceremony online in English, and we are ready to start sharing it on a monthly basis on Zoom, and sharing the recording with those who have purchased tickets to attend online, or review it in case they were not able to attend. 


Our next Online Session will be on Saturday October 31 at 10 AM Japan time (GMT +9). We hope to conduct these sessions once a month, depending on availability. A convenient site for checking how Japan time converts to your local time is: http://www.timebie.com 


You may wonder how much it would be possible to enjoy something so direct and sensory as the Tea Ceremony by participating online? You will be surprised.


Here are some common concerns:


  1. Isn't the sensory experience limited? 
    What many do not realize is that the senses are not automatically opened by physical presence. In Japanese Tea the senses are considered to be gateways to the mind and spirt. What often opens the gate is mental engagement through questions and curiosity. It is often through dialog that the Tea Master gently guides the guests each to their own special awakening, with a heightened sense of awareness and appreciation. Imagination is the senses reaching out to new levels of awareness. We have seen that this can happen online more easily than you think. 
  2. Even so, wouldn't it be better to have some Tea Ceremony materials to practice with? 
    This is a nice enhancement, but not necessary to have all of the same materials. In our introductory sessions we encourage engagement through observation, but naturally your senses will begin wanting something physical to touch and practice with as well. We can make recommendations for readily available substitutes, and we are working on a portable Tea Ceremony Kit, but there is plenty that you can learn before you begin assembling supplies. More important in the beginning is to be exposed to treasures of the Tea Ceremony such as the Calligraphy Scroll, the Mountain Flower, the Tea Bowl, and other beautiful implements. We can show these up close in photographs and also on video. The stories and conversations that these implements inspire are as much a part of the Tea Ceremony as sipping the Tea. They are the Taste of Zen!
  3. As a ritual, isn't the Japanese Tea Ceremony repetitive? 
    While some of the movements have been refined into beautiful ritual performances, both the implements and the conversations are different every time, depending on the Guests, the Season, the Implements, and the Moment. A famous Tea Ceremony wisdom proverb says that the Tea Ceremony is a once in a lifetime experience (一期一会 ichigo ichie). You take this insight with you into your daily life after the Tea Ceremony is finished, and you can raise your consciousness back to that level by recalling and retelling what you experienced.
  4. Are there any special preparations or guidelines for participation? 
    While it isn't exactly come as you are, there are no strict rules for what to wear. You are the guests and we are the hosts. It is the hosts who have the most to prepare. That said, in respect for the teacher, the time and place, we expect that participants will observe common sense Zoom etiquette: show up a few minutes before we start so that everyone is present when the Tea Ceremony starts, keep your video on so that we can see you, but keep yourself muted until we open the conversation, and mute yourself if there is any distracting noise in your background.
  5. What if the time difference makes it difficult for me to participate? 
    Not to worry, you can send us your questions in advance, and we may be able to cover them. In addition, anyone who buys a ticket will receive a link to the Zoom Recording, so you will still be able to watch it.
  6. Is there a video by which we can get a preview of what we will experience? 
    What you experience will be known as you experience it, and each time is different, so there is no video of what YOU will experience, especially the conversations and stories. However, since you no doubt would like to have a visual impression of Maeshima Sensei doing a Japanese Tea Ceremony, we have created a video of a Tea Ceremony we conducted with a French guest, a foreign exchange student named Marine. You can watch it here at:
    Soul of Japan: https://youtu.be/Mwn5CrrYdck

This will bring Harmony, Respect, Purity, and Tranquility (和光静寂 wako seijyaku) into your life. Couldn't we all use a bit of that?


Maeshima Sensei and I will be your hosts to help you connect this experience to your life, to help answer your questions, and to keep it interactive. You do not need any special equipment, you can come with your favorite tea or coffee, and you can bring a friend or two.


If you like what you experience, it is possible in some cases to book a custom Tea Ceremony, and share the experience with more of your friends by hosting your own selected group at a pre-arranged time. We will provide more information on these things as we develop our online Sessions.


Serendipity Note: Although we did not intend with this event to make a political statement, recent protests in the United States have created a remarkable Serendipitous Coincidence. Throughout Japanese History the Tea Ceremony has been intertwined with political events, usually from the side of peaceful protest. Next month, July 4th 2020 will mark the 244th Anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence, Freedom from Tyrants, and the Official birth of the United States of America.

And history seems to be repeating itself 244 years later in 2020, when Freedom from Tyranny has quite a contemporary ring! Even the Confederate Flag was designed after the Union Jack! And 3 years earlier in 1773 there was another rebellious act against Tyranny, which was also connected to Tea, the Boston Tea Party!

Peaceful Protests against repression are spreading in the United States, and receiving support from around the world. Perhaps in some serendipitous way, the Japanese Tea Ceremony has something that the world now needs.

Maeshima Sousu













Born in Yamanashi. Tea Master (Chajin). Full name Maeshima Koutarou. Certified as a Tea Ceremony Shihan in Omote Senke Style. Resident Master of Taro An Tea House. He began studying Tea Ceremony at the age of 6, and has conducted over 600 Tea Ceremonies. He conducts classes in Tea Ceremony for Parents and Children at the Historic Zen Temple of Erinji in Yamanashi, as well as at Japanese Cultural Events in Japan. He has conducted Tea Ceremony events sponsored by French-Japan Municipal Organizations in Paris and Beaune, as well as at numerous events for Foreign visitors to Japan. He has also conducted seminars for companies and businesses themed on the Tea Ceremony, working with Sunrise Promotion Tokyo. He has conducted programs in Outdoor Tea Cermony with Notdate Nist, event venues including Antique Houses, Snow Bound Tea Cer, as well as Events held in Rain, Mountains, by Starlight, under Cherry Blossoms, in Temples and Shrines, and by Natural Streams. He is dedicated to the pursuit of the essential elements of Japanese Aesthetics and Beauty. The name of his Tea House Taro An (Taro Hermitage), was named after his grandmother’s beloved family dog Taro. 

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Sue Jackson


Sue Jackson

Founder of Moon Dynamics

William Reed and Maeshima (Sousu) Kotaro create a beautiful tranquil space for multi cultural conversation, deep reflection and the sharing of Zen tradition. I learned so much about Japanese tea ceremony and how a little tase of Zen can literally renew your spirit and set you up for the day ahead!
Jan Polak


Jan Polak

EI Global Partner and Master Trainer

What a profound and wonderful calming session with Will Reed and Maeshima (Sousu) Kotaro. I was not just able to understand the spirit of the Tea ceremony but also get immersed in its beauty and wisdom. Recommend as a way to slow down and bring intentionality to everyday life.


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