Pearls, Pavilions, and Tea: The Fascinating Journey of Chado in San Diego

In the 1960s, SeaWorld San Diego opened to accommodate a large marine mammal park operated in collaboration with Murata Pearls, a Japanese pearl company. Murata Pearls invested in lovely Japanese gardens at the park, including a replica of the famous Kinkakuji Gold Pavilion in Kyoto, complete with a Shoin-style tea room. Murata Pearls invited a tea teacher from Japan to come to San Diego to demonstrate Chado, the Way of Tea, in the tea room of the Gold Pavilion. A young tea practitioner named Soshin Nakano, a student and assistant to Mme. Yaeko Shiotsuki, (the sister of the 15th Urasenke Grand Master), was chosen for this assignment. Soshin Nakano lived in San Diego for two years to demonstrate tea at SeaWorld. In the mid-1970s, Soshin Nakano returned to San Diego as Soshin Saito, and continued to teach Chado to the San Diego community. Hounsai Daisosho, (then the 15th Urasenke Grand Master), proposed that she open a chapter of Urasenke in San Diego. And in 1979 The Urasenke San Diego Tankokai was established.