Mako Kawakami(Soshin) is a professor of the Urasenke Tea School. Born in Saga, Japan, she joined her grandmother’s tea ceremony class when she was three years old and has since mastered this ancient Japanese art and become a highly respected teacher. Kawakami Sensei’s mother was a professor of Urasenke and greatly influenced Kawakami Sensei’s professional life. During her childhood she lived in New York and Vancouver where she became aware of the importance of preserving Japanese traditional arts and culture. The mastering and teaching of the art of Sado became for Kawakami sensei a life mission, a cause that she pursues with great passion. In 2015 she performed the tea ceremony for the President’s aides of Russia. Currently, she teaches Bushi tea ceremony to statesmen and businessmen in Tokyo, Chiba, Kyoto and Saga. In February 2016, she began teaching classes at foreign affiliated companies, including Google Japan. At present Kawakami is a member of the board of Japan domestic economy commitee of JTB Reserch Insitute. Soshin is commited to giving lecutures regarding the Bushi tea ceremony around the world and to anyone who wishes to experience the fullness that the pracice of tea can bring.
Finding it to be my true aim in life, I have become something of a missionary of the traditional art of Sado, promotingand teaching it. There were many difficulties to overcome, and many moments of discouragement, yet I never gave up, and continued on my path to honor my grandmother’s final wish. Currently, Itravel between Chiba and Saga to teach my classes, and have to manage the many expenses involved in such travel, nevertheless the words of my grandmother encourage me, and in moments of hardship I recite them as a way to find new courage. One of my students in Chiba told me that traditional Japanese arts could be the way to bring new prosperity to Japan, especially now when dark clouds seem to threaten the future of this country. Sado, Shodo, Ikebana, and ceramics are all mediums to be pursued to soothe and enrich the minds of the younger generation and create a new awareness in Japan. To master those arts requires great commitmentand profound sensitivity, and promoting them abroad could transform the world into a more peaceful place to live. I train everyday and continue to concentrate on improving my skills.
We need to learn to appreciate and feel the “now”, and tea ceremony can help all of us in this. Attend tea events often, and continueto practice more and more, and achieve through this peace of mind and perfect balance within yourself and the world. I owe great respect to my grandmother who taught me how to live in this world through the appreciation of Bushi tea ceremony, and to strive for success in the realm of Japanese traditional arts.
I would like to mention my mother. She passed away three years ago, yet I still feel her and my grandmother’s support when I experience difficulty, discouragement, and doubt. My grandmother was verystrict with me during tea ceremony lessons during my childhood,and later in life my mother, too, was strict as she taught me everything about tea ceremony. At one point, she asked her teacher in Yamaguchi to teach me once a month and this was quite hard for me, at the age when my natural desire was to play with my friends. However, now I more fully appreciate the discipline received through the years. It has made me strong and focused, able to face life and overcome obstacles. I am grateful to my mother and grandmother, through their teaching I am able now to teach tea to businessmen and statesmen.
My mission in tea ceremony is tomaster and teach Bushi (warrior) tea ceremony. Warriors used tofind in the “last” cup of tea the strength to fight battles, I see my mission as offering the appreciation of the “present moment” through tea ceremony, a path to find the necessary calm and strength to overcome the contradictions of modern life. My teaching is not only about etiquette and manners but about offering the right spirit, the “spirit contained in the cup”. If, through,my class, you can learn Japanese culture, tradition and the spirit of the Bushi warrior, I myself am very happy and will feel that I have succeeded as an instructor and in carrying on the teachings I learned from my mother and grandmother..