University Community

Embracing and exploring Japanese culture, tradition at OHIO Eastern

The Ohio Eastern Art Gallery recently hosted a celebration of Japanese culture, leaving a lasting impression on all who attended. Led by esteemed artists and dedicated enthusiasts working in tandem, the event provided a deep dive into the intricate and vibrant tapestry of Japanese traditions.

At the center of the festivities was Yuko Eguchi, a luminary in the realm of Japanese tea ceremony, or Chado, the Way of Tea. She guided participants with grace and reverence, showcasing her expertise in the timeless traditions. Her words echoed the wisdom of generations past, emphasizing the essence of unity, equality and tranquility embedded within the art of Chado.

OHIO Eastern Japanese Cultural Event Tea Ceremony

“Through the sharing of the Japanese cultural experience via Chado, my aim is to unveil the allure and timeless elegance of these ancient traditions, igniting a passion within younger generations to embrace them and carry their legacy forward as cultural ambassadors, thus ensuring their perpetuity for generations to come,” said Eguchi.

Chado, is a traditional Japanese art involving the ritualistic preparation of tea. Influenced by the philosophy of Zen Buddhism, the core teaching of chado is to attain a spiritual state of selflessness and peacefulness through making and sharing tea.

"The importance of sharing the way of tea lies in spreading the invaluable wisdom of our predecessors, particularly Sen no Rikyu, regarding equality and peace," Eguchi remarked. “It serves as a reminder to cherish every moment, recognizing its unique significance (ichi-go-ichi-e), a notion often overlooked amidst the hustle of our daily routines.”

Accompanying Eguchi's immersive tea ceremony was a breathtaking display of Japanese traditional paintings by Hiromi Katayama, Ohio University Eastern Visiting Arts Professor. Hailing from Ibarki, Japan, Katayama's artistry transcends borders, offering a profound glimpse into the soul of Japanese culture. Utilizing traditional Japanese pigments and techniques, she meticulously crafts her artwork, drawing inspiration from cultural foundations in nature. With each brushstroke, Katayama serves as a cultural ambassador, sharing the essence of Japanese aesthetics with the world.

OHIO Eastern Japanese Cultural Event 2

Reflecting on her passion for preserving traditional art forms, Katayama remarked, "Nihonga is one of the dying cultural art forms in Japan, that even few Japanese know about today. It is my passion to continue this traditional practice and educate others around the world."

Completing the trifecta of cultural enrichment was Sogetsu Pittsburgh, a collective study group dedicated to the art of Ikebana, Japanese traditional flower arrangements that incorporate influences including modern sculpture, abstract art, architecture, and design while honoring custom and a particular methodology. With each delicate petal and graceful curve, Sogetsu Pittsburgh illuminated the beauty of nature intertwined with artistic expression. Their commitment to expanding the boundaries of Ikebana mirrors the ethos of their founder, Sofu Teshigahara, who believed that beauty could be found "anytime, anywhere, by anyone."

As the event ended, echoes of appreciation reverberated throughout the campus. Ohio University Eastern Dean of Campus and Community Relations David Rohall expressed his delight in the event's success, affirming the importance of such cultural programming.

"Our campus should be a hub for all sorts of cultural activities," Rohall stated. "We plan to continue to produce and expand on this type of program, providing the community access to arts from the region and the world." 

Ohio University Eastern student Garrett Bossell found the event to be both enlightening and intriguing.

"Attending the Way of the Tea event broadened my perspective of Japanese culture and their history," said Bossell. "I think that having events like these on campus are not only enlightening but also interesting for all parties involved."

In essence, the Japanese cultural event at OHIO Eastern served as a beacon of cultural exchange and understanding, bridging the gap between tradition and modernity. Through the shared experience of tea, art, and floral arrangements, attendees departed with a newfound appreciation for the richness of Japanese heritage and the universal language of art. 

May 13, 2024
Staff reports