Madame Soko Kobara has been teaching Urasenke Japanese Tea Ceremony in San Francisco and the Bay Area for over 55 years. She has received the highest teaching degree and the title of “Meiyo Shihan,” Distinguished Tea Master. She is the “Sodanyaku,” Counselor of the Chado Urasenke Tankokai San Francisco Association.
In 1968, Soko Kobara and her husband, Rev. Seiji Kobara requested permission from the Grand Tea Master in Kyoto to perform a tea ceremony demonstration in public. In that same year, Soko Kobara and her students performed the very first public demonstration at the 1st Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco. After that tea ceremony demonstrations have become more popular at Japanese cultural events. She has performed at many venues such as Hakone Gardens, De Young Museum, Asian Art Museum, Nichi Bei Kai and here at the Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival.
Tea Ceremony is based on 4 principles: “WA” harmony, “KEI” respect, “SEI” purity and “JAKU” tranquility by its founder, Rikyu Sen. It encompasses the traditional Japanese Arts including flower arrangement, calligraphy, archery, pottery, architecture, garden landscape, etiquette, poetry, incense, culinary, noh play and Zen practice. The tea ceremony also adapts to the seasonal changes with the flower arrangement, utensils, scroll, kimono, sweets and tea. Each tea ceremony is unique and therefore we use the term “Ichi-go Ichi-e” meaning once in a chance meeting.
Her legacy continues with her daughters and granddaughter practicing tea ceremonies with her.