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Hiroko Nakamoto Gallery

(Japanese Ceremonial Arts Room)

This authentic Japanese tea ceremony room is located off of the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery in the School of Art. It was built in 1991 as a gift from a BGSU alumna, Dr. Hiroko Nakamoto, and many friends of BGSU in Japan who wish to promote international understanding and friendship. It was completed with the help of two master carpenters who traveled from Japan, and features an antique Japanese stone lantern, as well as a screen and tatami mat.

The room was dedicated on October 8, 1992 with a tea ceremony hosted by Atsuko Yamamoto Lefcourte, a native of Osaka, Japan. Ms. Lefcourte has had extensive training in the tea ceremony, ikebana (Japanese floral arrangement), singing, dance and koto (Japanese harp). By the time she was 20, she had opened a successful school of flower arranging and tea ceremony training. After training at Kyoto's Ikenobo Institute's teacher school, she won a coveted position over 400 competitors to become a teacher of Japanese arts in the United States.She is a long-time friend of Dr. Nakamoto, and has conducted ceremonies at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations.

BGSU is fortunate to have an expert on campus to perform and teach the tea ceremony. Ms. Akiko Jones teaches in the German, Russian and East Asian Languages Department, and has presented numerous ceremonies and classes for students and other groups. Asian Studies has also been instrumental in arranging periodic demonstrations of ikebana and koto performance in the tea room.

The Tea Ceremony

The tea ceremony is called "Chanoyu" or "Chado" in Japanese, meaning "hot water for tea" or "the way of tea." It is a combination of art and religion. The exact date that tea was first introduced is uncertain. It is assumed that the Buddhist monks traveling around China and India brought the tea back to Japan in the 8th century. In the 12th century a Zen monk brought back seeds and a few tea utensils. Due to the influence of Shogun Minamoto Sanetomo, tea drinking developed into a custom among the people of the upper class.

In the 16th century Sen-no-Rikyu became the greatest master of Chanoyu and the lineage of the present Sen family and their association with the world of tea began with him."Chanoyu" is the culmination of Japanese culture. The philosophy of "chanoyo" descends from Zen. Sen-no-Rikyu identified the spirit of "chanoyu" with the four basic principles: Wa (harmony), Kei (respect), Sei (purity) and Jaku (tranquility).

Once you enter "chashitsu" (tea ceremony room), there are no barriers between people and a harmonious interaction between host and guest is experienced.