Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kobara Sensei 7th Year Memorial Service

On December 17th, 2011 the Seventh Year Memorial Service for Kobara Ranseki Sensei took place at the Buddhist Church of San Francisco at 1:00 PM. Kobara Sensei was the founder and Shihan ("Headmaster") of the Ranseki Sho Juku system of Japanese calligraphy and painting as well as the Vice President of the Kokusai Shodo Bunka Koryu Kyokai, which is based in Urayasu, Japan.
The private service was attended by around 20 people, mostly members of the Kobara family and H. E. Davey Sensei and Miyauchi Somei Sensei, two of his closest students of shodo. Although Kobara Sensei taught many people the ancient art of brush calligraphy over several decades, only four people ever received Shihan-Dai, the highest level of teaching certification. Davey Sensei and Miyauchi Sensei are the last two living Shihan-Dai of Ranseki Sho Juku shodo. They lead the Wanto Shodo Kai, "East Bay Shodo Association," in Oakland, California. Davey Sensei is also the Director of the Sennin Foundation Center for Japanese Cultural Arts, where classes in Integrated Shodo & Meditation are offered.
A Jodo Shinshu Buddhist service started the event, followed by a traditional offering of incense to Kobara Sensei by members of his family, Miyauchi Sensei, and Davey Sensei. The memorial service closed with comments from Kobara Kazuko, Kobara Sensei's wife. She recalled his deeply spiritual nature, how he viewed most everyone as members of his family, and how his last words were expressions of gratitude.
Following the service, refreshments were offered at the church social hall, which contained pictures of Kobara Sensei as a child, teaching shodo, receiving awards at international shodo exhibitions, and being presented with the Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Japanese Way of the Artist

The Japanese Way of the Artist is a collection of three of H. E. Davey's most popular books. It's published by Stone Bridge Press ( Included in a single volume are:

Living the Japanese Arts and Ways: 45 Paths to Meditation & Beauty
Brush Meditation: A Japanese Way to Mind & Body Harmony
 * The Japanese Way of the Flower: Ikebana as Moving Meditation
The three works anthologized here are essential to understanding the spiritual, meditative, and physical basis of all classical Japanese crafts, fine arts, and martial arts. Living the Japanese Arts & Ways covers key concepts—like wabi and “stillness in motion”—while the other two books show the reader how to use brush calligraphy (shodo) and flower arranging (ikebana) to achieve mind-body unification. Illustrated with diagrams, drawings, and photographs.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

An Excerpt from Chapter Two: Introduction to Mind & Body Unification

As human beings we seek freedom—political freedom, religious freedom, freedom from discrimination The free use of our minds and bodies—freedom of action in general—is an innate urge.
Each action we take is an act of self-expression. We often think of large-scale or important deeds as being indications of our real selves, but even how we sharpen a pencil can reveal something about our feelings at that moment. Do we sharpen the pencil carefully or nervously so that it doesn’t break? Do we bother to pay attention to what we’re doing? How do we sharpen the same pencil when we’re angry or in a hurry? Is it the same as when we’re calm or unhurried?
Even the smallest movement discloses something about the person executing the action because it is the personwho’s actually performing the deed. In other words, action doesn’t happen by itself, we make it happen, and in doing so we leave traces of ourselves on the activity. The mind and body are interrelated.
How do you feel when you’re unable to express yourself? Imagine you couldn’t speak or in some other way communicate. An extreme example perhaps, but how would it feel? In the same way that we suffer if we’re unable to express ourselves, we also languish when we cannot, for whatever reason, assert ourselves skillfully. Self-expression is natural, even inevitable, for all of us; and skilled, efficient self-expression goes beyond mere activity and enters the realm of art.
For instance, many of us realize that our handwriting tends to reflect our personalities or at least our state of mind at the moment we put pen to paper. However, when we become conscious of our handwriting as an act of self-expression, when we allow our creativity to flow through the brush or pen in a way that’s not only efficient but also coordinated and dexterous, we call what we’re doing calligraphy—the art of writing.
Just as writing can become calligraphy when it’s creatively, skillfully, and consciously performed, so can all other activities become art. In this case, we are reflecting upon life itself as an artistic statement—the art of living.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


The Sennin Foundation Center will be closed from December 23 through January 2. The first classes of 2012 will be on January 3.

Thank you for supporting our dojo in 2011. We hope we can count on your continued support in 2012. We also hope you have great holidays and a very Happy New Year.