Saturday, May 21, 2016

Meditative Soundscapes: Kaoru Kakizakai and Gary Stroutsos to perform at Seattle Asian Art Museum, June 5, 2016

Meditative Soundscapes: Internationally-reknowned Flute Performers and Educators Kaoru Kakizakai and Gary Stroutsos 
perform a first-time musical collaboration on Japanese Shakuhachi and Native American Flutes at the historic Seattle Asian Art Museum. 

DATE: Sunday, June 5, 2016.
TIME: 2:00pm

Volunteer Park
1400 E. Prospect Street
Seattle, WA 98112 

$15.00 (Seniors $10.00) at the Door, or via Brown Paper Tickets.

The Meditative Soundscapes project is the product of a first-time musical collaboration between two world-class flute players, Kaoru Kakizakai of Saitama Prefecture, Japan, and Gary Stroutsos of Seattle, WA, USA.  It is a collaboration based on both form and expression; an exploration of the similarities and differences between two end-blown vertical flutes, the shakuhachi of Japan and the southwest desert rim flute indigenous to ancient Native American cultures of the southwestern US.  Though separated by time, distance and differences in culture, the construction and tonal quality of these flutes suggest that they may have served similar ends in evoking powerful emotional, and perhaps even spiritual, experiences for both player and listener.  We invite you to explore for yourself.

Kaoru Kakizakai of Saitama Prefecture, Japan, has been playing the shakuhachi for over 35 years. Having trained under the master Katsuya Yokoyama, he has now become one of his most successful and respected proteges. Kakizakai completed formal musical training at the NHK Traditional Music Conservatory. He has won numerous awards and accolades in Japan, and has performed shakuhachi concerts around the globe. He also has a world-wide following of students through the International Shakuhachi Training Center (Kokusai Shakuhachi Kenshukan) in Tokyo, and on-line. He is currently a lecturer at the Tokyo College of Music, Instructor at the NHK Culture Center, and President and Full-Time Instructor of the Kokusai Shakuhachi Kenshukan. 
Additional Bio info at

Gary Stroutsos performs world flute music drawn from many traditional cultures. Evoking a spirit of place and the voices of the land, his work includes internationally-acclaimed recordings at sacred sites, using the unique acoustics and history of each great space as the starting point for musical exploration. Stroutsos is best know for his significant contributions to the preservation of Native American music through sound and video recordings for tribal projects of the Salish-Kootenai, Lakota, Navajo, and Mandan-Hidatsa. His soundtrack work for the Ken Burns documentary, "Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery," led to a command performance at the White House for former President Clinton. He is also well-known for his meditative and modern performances on the ancient Chinese Xiao and Dizi flutes, seldom heard outside of China or outside of traditional Chinese music. 
Additional Bio info at

For further information, please contact:

Gary Stroutsos

Patrick Johnson
Seattle Shakuhachi Study Group

Saturday, September 19, 2015


Last month, I held two tea tasting classes at a wonderful tea shop, Floating Leaves Tea, in Seattle.
The owner, Shiuwen Tai, is the local expert on Taiwanese Oolong and also carries a variety of Taiwan, China, and Japan teas; as well as fine tea ware. It really is a tea oasis in the heart of Seattle's Ballard neighborhood (which is where I grew up - her son goes to the same elementary as I did!)
The response from this great group of tea folks was good, and there has been continued emend for more classes. So, I'm doing two more classes on Sunday, September 27th. Space is limited, so contact Shiuwen at Floating Leaves to reserve a spot,, 206-276-9542.

Our last classes allowed tasting of 10 different teas, a discussion on tea ware, and a special treat of wagashi (seasonal, handmade Japanese sweets) by Tokara, a Seattle Japanese sweet shop that is just one of a handful of professional wagashi shops outside of Japan, The sweets were in the theme of Obon, the time of remembering ancestors, which occurs in August. It also tied in the reference to those remembered in the great tsunami of 2011.

Our next classes will offer a wide variety of teas and sweets by Tokara.
Here are some images of teas and sweets enjoyed at the August classes. Enjoy!

Wagashi named "Uzumaki" (whirlpool) by Tokara.)
Sweet plate and Tea Bowl by George Gledhill.

Charaku Gokase Organic Tamaryokucha, Miyazaki.
Tokoname Tea Pot, Mashiko Katakuchi (spouted bowl,)
Vintage tasting cups from Igeta Tea Shop, Sendai.

Charaku Premium Organic Matcha,
Vintage Soma-yaki Sugar Bowl used as Chaire (Tea Canister,) Fukushima.

Charaku Asahina Karigane (stems of Gyokuro,) Shizuoka.
Tokoname Tea Pot, Thai Porcelain tasting cup.

Wagashi called "Great Wave" by Tokara.
Sweet plate by Mika Sullivan,
Tea Bowl by Sachiko Furuya.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Shincha Tasting Class at Rainier Valley Cultural Center, July 18th

Photos from last Saturday's tasting class at Rainier Valley Cultural Center in Seattle. Thank you to Northwest Tea Festival for hosting this World of Tea event, and for allowing me to share Charaku Fine Japanese Tea with the local tea community! I usually don't take many photos since I'm presenting, but one of the guests, Heather Porter, posted a great summary on her blog, Check it out!
Sifting the matcha in preparation for the day's class.

Pottery on display to discuss Japanese tea wares: Kyusu & Dobin, Yuzamashi & Houjiki, Yunomi & Chawan.
Teas loaded and ready for tasting! Cherry bark tea canisters from Kakunodate, Akita Prefecture. They were my father's.
They've settled a bit since pouring, but a few of the teas we tasted (10 total) were (l-r): Gyokuro, Karigane, Genmaicha, Houjicha. The full line-up was: Asamushi Sencha from Usuki, Oita; Chuumushi Sencha from Hayato, Kagoshima; Fukamushi Secha from Kawan, Shizuoka; Tamaryokacha from Gokase, Miyazaki; Gyokuro from Yame, Fukuoka; Karigane from Asahina, Shizuoka; Genmaicha from Kawane, Shizuoka; Houjicha from Kagoshima, Matcha from Nishio, Aichi (served with Tokara wagashi;) and cold-infused (rei-cha) Kukicha from Kagoshima. A full morning of Japanese tea!
"Asagao" (Morning Glory) wagashi from Tokara. Sweet plate, also with Morning Glory motif, by Sayo Horimizu of Mashiko. Tea Bowl in background is vintage Soma-yaki from Fukushima.

Biwa (Loquat) Mochi from Tokara. Tea Bowl in background is Shino-glazed Summer Tea Bowl by Sachiko Furuya (Honolulu, HI.) Sweet plate is from Soeya kiln in Mashiko.
Matcha Chawan (Tea Bowls) ready to serve.

Rainier Valley Cultural Center, a great place for events!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Shincha (New Harvest Tea) is in! Omataseshimashita (Thank you for waiting.) We've had the 2015 new harvest teas in since last month, but have been making some upgrades to the Charaku website which have delayed this announcement. Many have ordered by e-mail or phone already, but all of our 2015 teas are available at now.
We've also got a limited amount of 2014 stock available at 20% off. Inventory includes a few packs each of Oita & Yakushima Organic Sencha; Uji, Hayato, & Tanegashima Sencha; Asahina Karigane, and Kagoshima Kukicha. As our teas are all nitrogen-flushed to preserve freshness, these teas are still flavorful well into 2016. If you'd like to purchase some, please contact me by e-mail,

Monday, March 02, 2015

Smile for Japan - 4th Anniversary of Tohoku Earthquake & Tsunami - Benefit Event March 8, 2015

I will be serving tea this Sunday at the Smile for Japan benefit concert and craft sale for the 4th anniversary of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. If you are in the Seattle area (Oddfellows Hall in Ballard,) I sincerely hope that you will be able to attend and to support the cause. Great music, including Japanese musicians this year, Art & Crafts, Food, Silent Auction, and of course, Charaku Fine Japanese Tea! Yoroshiku!


 Recent work by potter John Miller of Portland, OT. Over 20 Tea Cups, plus Sake Cups and Tea Bowl. (These are just a sampling of the new inventory. See more of John Miller's work at our WaSabiDou website, John makes good use of Shino glaze and has a great feel for the form of a solidly functional tea cup. John Salgir Miller was born in Elmira, NY, in 1974 and earned his BFA in ceramics and illustration from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. He has been inspired the mingei aesthetic and by the work of Shoji Hamada since he began studying ceramics in high school. While at Mass Art studying under Ben Ryterband (who spent time studying pottery in Japan,) he had the chance to see an exhibit of Tatsuzo Shimaoka’s work in Boston and to meet Shimaoka-sensei who gave a lecture on Mingei at Mass Art. This work also had a great impact on John’s pottery style. While taking the aesthetics of mingei and Mashiko ware to heart, he also had close access to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, just two blocks away from Mass Art. Here, he was able to further explore the vast world of Japanese ceramics as well as to study the Chinese Song Dynasty pots in the museum collection. Since 1999, he has lived in Portland, OR, where he continues to expand his ceramic skills (studied salt firing with Jim Koudelka at the Oregon College of Art and Craft, 2000 – 2005.) He has shown his work in Boston, Portland, and now Seattle. Besides being a fine potter, John is also an avid cyclist and bike racer, as well as a serious collector of Japanese ceramics and 
Turkish folk art.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Recent Works by Sachiko Furuya

I've had the pleasure and good fortune to represent and collect the work of Sachiko Furuya for several years now. She originally hails from Yamanashi Prefecture, in central Japan near the sacred Mt. Fuji. There, she studied pottery with Yukio Matsuura, making primarily tea wares for practitioners of the Omotesenke School of Tea. She also attended the College of Arts at Nihon University (Tokyo,) Suidobara Fine Arts Academy (Tokyo,) and has a Studio Art degree from Clark College in Dubuque, Iowa. She has exhibited her work in galleries and museums in the United States and Japan. She also owned and operated her own gallery in Edmonds, WA from 1997-2000. Currently, she resides in Hawaii, where she finds new inspirations to complement her aesthetic sensibilities cultivated by her time in Japan and the Pacific Northwest. Sachiko's pottery glazes often make use of bamboo ash (J. take bai) and a high iron content. Her forms tend to be raw and organic, illustrating her preference to let the materials speak for themselves. These, and many more, recent works are available at Wasabidou Antiques & Folk

Monday, December 01, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving; full of family, friends, and good food.
I usually like to do a course menu on special occasions, but this year we were fortunate to celebrate the holiday over several days at multiple locations. Still, I wanted to put my ideas for the year on a plate so we prepared small dishes at home throughout the 4-day weekend. Here's how they would appear in a single dinner menu, on dishes in our home collection.

Kousen (fragrant warm drink): Kuzuyu (Hot water, slightly sweetened, and thickened with kuzu starch) served two ways, scented with Yuzu, and with Pumpkin Pie Spices.
Tea cups - Zezeyaki, Shiga Prefecture. Kabazaiku (Cherry Bark) Tray; Kakunodate, Akita.

Mukozuke Course:
-Apple cider braised Turkey Thighs served on Steamed Chinese Bun with Cranberry Hoisin Sauce and Kaiware Daikon Sprouts. Plate by George Gledhill.
-Red Curry Kabocha (Japanese Pumpkin) Soup with Coconut Milk and Lime Juice. Sendai-nuri Lacquerware.
-Haricot Verts sauteed in Miso Butter, garnished with sliced Almonds. Porcelain Mukozuke Dish by Hanako Nakazato.

Wanmori Course:
-Clear Soup; Ground Turkey and Grated Apple Meatballs in Bacon Dashi, with Bunashimeji Mushrooms and Baby Bok Choy. Sendai-nuri Lacquerware.
-Sake: Momokawa Junmai Ginjo; Forest Grove, Oregon. Guinomi by George Gledhill. Mashiko-yaki Tokkuri.

Yakimono (Grilled Dish) Course: Pan-seared Sockeye Salmon on bed of Curry Creamed Spinach with Red Quinoa. Shino-glaze Dish by Kato Kozo.

Mushimono (Steamed Dish) Course: Chawan Mushi (Steamed Egg Custard) with Turkey "Oyster" (sotl'y laisse,) Carrot, and Shiitake Mushroom. Mashiko-yaki lidded bowl on small plate by Mika Sullivan.

 Rice Course:
-Shiitake Gohan, seasoned rice with roasted Shiitake Mushrooms & Abura-age (Fried Bean Curd;) Mashiko-yaki Rice Bowl, Soeya Kiln.
-Tsukemono (pickled Daikon Radishes) on spouted bowl (katakuchi;) Mashiko-yaki, Yumito Kiln.
- Charaku Houjicha (Roasted Green Tea;) Kyo-Satsuma Tea Cup and Tea Pot.

Dessert Course: (Trio)
-Pumpkin Cheesecake Bar.
-Yuzu Ice Cream with Blueberry Dessert Wine (Samson Estate Winery; Everson, Washington.)
-Chocolate-enrobed Roasted Fig.

Tea Course:
Charaku Premium Organic Matcha. Bamboo-shaped Winter Tea Bowl by John Miller; Portland, Oregon.