The Chikurakken or "Enjoying the Bamboo Room" was designed by architect James Stenkamp, under the oversight of Akira R. Takemoto (Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Japanese) in the Spring of 2009 and serves as the focal point for the new Asian Studies Center in the East Wing of Olin Hall (E110). The calligraphy identifying the room, was done by master calligrapher, Fujii Yoshiyasu, who resides in Seattle and has served as a mentor to Professor Takemoto and his students.. The name of the tea room comes from a calligraphy scroll displayed in the study of the Japanese novelist, Natsume Sōseki 夏目漱石 (1867-1916) which reads: "Bring in some bamboo and enjoy its its cool wind and shadows." (移竹楽清隠).
In designing the Chikurakken, Professor Takemoto remembers the aesthetic concerns of the Yabunouchi (藪内) style of tea ceremony that was started by Yabunouchi Kenchū (1536-1627). Kenchū and subsequent grand masters of the Yabunouchi family sought to bridge two important aesthetics ideas in Japan: simplicity and elegance. The Yabunouchi style of tea seeks to combine the simplicity and frugality of what people often call wabi-tea gatherings with the elegance, strength, and versatility that hallmarks the shoin-style tea gatherings of military leaders like Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436-1490). Professor Takemoto trained under the present grand master, Yabunouchi Jōchi, who resides in Kyoto and succeeds in a line that extends back thirteen generations to Kenchū in the sixteenth century. Contact Professor Takemoto if you are interested in visiting the tea room or watching a tea demonstration.
Appreciating the Art of Tea
"Tea is a religion of beauty. It can claim to be called the way of tea only when it is exalted to a religion. Until the mind is ready, we cannot hope to enter the sanctuary of Tea. Unless we have associated with things so intimately that we have purified our minds through them, it cannot be said that we really see them; to defile them is to commit a sacrilege of the spirit. We may say that if the heart is stained, we cannot enjoy divine intercourse with things. Until a utensil meets a sincere person, it cannot be called a worthy utensil."
—Yanagi Sōetsu, The Unknown Craftsman
"The essential truth of the teaching of tea is, entering a state of contemplative peace, to seek to be active in the midst of calm. Thus, calm activity, active calm; activity and calm together became the teaching of tea."
—Konnyo Kōzui, twenty-second abbot
Nishi Hongwanji Sect of Shin Buddhism in Kyoto, Japan
The Chikurakken is located in Olin Hall's new Asian Studies Wing (East E110) and includes displays of tea utensils and works of art from the Whitman College Davis Collection of Asian Art.
Normally open on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. when tea practices are being conducted or by appointment.
Akira R. Takemoto
Chair, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures
Olin East (E114)