October 15th 2023 “Trick or TEA”

“Trick or TEA” 
Sunday, October 15th 2023
Shoseian Japanese Teahouse

To celebrate Halloween, the Youth Group of the Urasenke Tankokai Los Angeles Association hosted a Halloween themed Tea Ceremony. It was a wonderful fusion of American and Japanese culture with elaborate staging and tea utensils, in an attempt to familiarize the younger generation with the tea ceremony.

As a leader of the event, Lani Sugishita and members of the Youth group had 4 gatherings serving a total of 91 guests.

A frayed red umbrella with cobwebs and a pitch fork greeted guests as they entered the venue.  It served to depict the yokai, karakasa-ko, an ancient Japanese umbrella ghost.  Posters of Nagori, describing the change of seasons, Toriawase, showing the mixing and complimenting of utensils, and Yokai/Kaidan, explaining the Japanese popularity with ghosts/spirits were on display to educate our guests in a playful manner.

The hanging shikishi was with the saying, “Hoho, Haha, Chacha” by Sosei Matsumoto.  The sounds of laughter could be heard from the picture of a smiling pumpkin.  The kogo or incense container was a kabocha or Japanese pumpkin.  The handmade flower vessel of a human skull was creatively made by Jeffrey Sugishita.

The main tea bowl was Oribe ware with a bat on it, and for the second guest, a Kyoyaki tea bowl with a whimsical Halloween motif was used.

Nobue Kodama and volunteer members handmade the sweets in the shape of candy corn, an American Halloween candy favorite, and named them “toukon” (sugar spirit). The natsume or tea caddy used was with a black cat and pumpkin drawn on it. The Chashaku or tea scoop was by Hasegawa, Daishin named “Keiun” or Auspicious Clouds to let guests know that once the clouds of darkness dissipate, there is hope and good tidings.

Right before the haiken or examining of the tea caddy and tea scoop, the lights suddenly went out, and fog drifted into the tea room with an eerie sound.  The teishu, Andre Nguyen, entered wearing a Tengu mask.  Together with the hanto, Luis Orozco, wearing a Hanya mask, they surprised and delighted the audience.

It was an opportunity for the members of the Youth Group to meet each other and work together to spread the word to the participants that it is possible to engage them with a tea ceremony with a touch of humor as part of learning the tea ceremony.