2013 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Heroes - KCET
Madame Sosei Matsumoto
Japanese Chado Tea Ceremony Master
Urasenke School of Chado
Japanese Chado Tea Ceremony Madame Sosei Matsumoto is considered to be the most influential teacher and accomplished master of chado, or the “way of the tea,” in the United States. At 93 years old, Madame Matsumoto continues to teach her students the hundreds of complex steps designed around this Japanese art form as followed by the Urasenke School of Chado in the tea room her late husband built for her in their home near downtown Los Angeles. The instruction she received during the 1940’s in Kyoto, Japan, under Tantansai, Fourteenth Generation Grandmaster of the Urasenke School of Chado, and Hounsai Daisosho, Fifteen Generation Grandmaster, has enriched the nation’s cultural fabric. Madame Matsumoto courageously introduced chado to American culture during the aftermath of World War II and has instructed more than 5,000 students, some of which have become masters themselves.
Madame Matsumoto has conducted chado ceremonies to countless diplomats and politicians, including President Harry S. Truman, Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida and about 3,000 other participants over a three-day period at the historical signing of the Treaty of Peace with Japan in 1951 in San Francisco. Her ceremonies have been featured in films including “East is East” and on television. She has lectured and demonstrated throughout Southern California and the Southwest. In 1989, Madame Matsumoto received the title Meiyo Shihan, or Honored Master, from her instructor Soshitsu Sen. This is the highest teaching certificate available for instructors. Matsumoto received the Fifth Order of the Merit (The Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Rays) from the Emperor of Japan in November 1990. In 1994, Ms. Matsumoto was named a National Heritage Fellow from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Artistic Director and Founder
Nobuko Miyamoto is artistic director and founder of Great Leap, a Los Angeles-based, multicultural arts organization which uses art as both performance and creative practice to deepen relations among people of diverse cultures and faiths. Ms. Miyamoto founded Great Leap in 1978 to initially serve as a creative voice for the Asian American community. After she witnessed the cultural tension and violence that emerged during the Los Angeles Riots in 1992, Ms. Miyamoto embraced Los Angeles’ diverse cultural fabric into Great Leap.
Ms. Miyamoto’s experience in the performing arts spans more than 50 years. As a dancer, choreographer, actor and composer, she has performed on Broadway and in films such as “King and I” and "West Side Story." She discovered her own voice as an activist and a singer in the 1970s, co-creating the first album of Asian American songs, “A Grain of Sand.” As Artistic Director of Great Leap, she created scores for theater, dance and solo albums. Ms. Miyamoto has taught and led workshops at many universities, including UCLA and Columbia University Teachers College. In 2006, she received the California Arts Council Director’s Award. In 2003, Ms. Miyamoto received the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World award.
View Past Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Honorees