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Teahouse, Shinkanan

This teahouse was built in 1949, by skilled craftsmen in Kyoto, Japan, and then shipped to California as a gift for retired businessman Royce Greatwood. The teahouse was reassembled in the Greatwood’s Hope Ranch lemon orchard. In 1958, the home and orchard became the property of the John H. Esbenshade family. In 1998, with the help of the Santa Barbara-Toba Sister City Organization, the Esbenshades donated this unique teahouse to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, where it is being preserved and appreciated by visitors in this beautiful naturalistic setting.

The rich cultural tradition of Cha-do (Japanese tea culture), graces this teahouse. It was given the name Shin Kan An, meaning, “ Look Through the Heart,” by the 15th generation Hounsai Oiemoto (now Hounsai Genshitsu Daisosho) of the Urasenke Tea School. The name was generously given in honor of Heartie Anne Look, a teacher of Ikenobo Flower Arrangement and Japanese culture for many years in the Santa Barbara community. Shin Kan An, is currently used for authentic Chanoyu tea ceremony events and classes.

Instructor, Sokyo Kasai

Over the past twenty years, Mrs. Sokyo Kasai has given tea ceremony demonstrations and lectures at UCSB, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, the Ikenobo Studio of Heartie Anne Look, Antioch University, Santa Barbara City College, Samarkand Retirement Community, and at various churches, private parties and service organizations. Since her childhood long study of Urasenke Traditional Japanese Art of Tea, in 2003~2004 she has completed a 6-month Intensive Course Study at Urasenke Gakuen (Chado Urasenke School Way Of Tea) in Kyoto, Japan . She is currently teaching our group in Santa Barbara California, as a certified first degree instructor, holding regular private classes for all levels at her residence in Solvang and in the teahouse called Shin Kan An (Look through the Heart), located within the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.

Heartie Anne Look

The art of the tea ceremony is one of the most powerful yet subtle of the “inventions” of Japanese culture. In the western world, the only thing that comes close to it is prayer.

Either performing or watching “tea” results in an elevation of consciousness, and it becomes a healing process. An hour in the tearoom is refreshing and rejuvenating-one emerges with a “new lease on life”.

The Japanese have long known and appreciated the beneficial results of starting the day with a ritual cup of tea-performed in the proper way. The actual movements that the host performs have a mesmerizing effect. One must just relax and “let it happen”.

Unfortunately, the rush of modern life has deprived the younger generations of this “miraculous” way to start the day. But as one grows older and as time becomes more important, the older generations, one hopes, resort to the time-honored custom of tea. It provides a welcome in the workaday world, and benefits them medically, emotionally, and spiritually.

To have a true and proper Japanese tea house in Santa Barbara is a wonderful and rare treat. To have it presently disassembled is a sorrow. But with enough interest and understanding of the benefits of “cha no you” (tea ceremony-“tea of hot water”) it should be possible to reassemble the teahouse and use it for classes in Japanese culture.

The world grows smaller and more closely-nit. The more we can understand other nations and cultures, the better for us all. American “culture” seems to have swallowed the world. Let’s not let it swallow a lovely treasure of cross-cultural understanding.

This teahouse in Santa Barbara has special significance. It was given in gratitude to a Santa Barbara resident for help given before, during and after World War II. The construction of a teahouse is the most exacting and expensive of any type of Japanese construction. Therefore, this small building represents the ultimate in gratitude-more than diamonds.

Having this Teahouse rebuilt, restored and used again gives us the tranquility we need in our western world.

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