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Washin Kai Events

Upcoming Washin Kai events:   

Washin Kai and Town Hall Seattle co-production of a performance of Rakugo by Katsura Sunshine

Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Town Hall Seattle
Ticket information will be available as we get closer to the event date

Past Washin Kai Events:

"Zen Master Zekkai: The Life of a Medieval Japanese Monk"

A Lecture by Paul S. Atkins
Professor of Japanese and Department Chair, Department of Asian Languages and Literature
Tuesday, March 3, 2020 7:00 p.m.
Kane Hall, room 210
University of Washington

Not all Japanese literature is written in Japanese!  After the introduction of the Chinese writing system to Japan over 1500 years ago, classical Chinese was frequently used until the modern era for official documents, letters, and literary works.

Among the best Japanese poets to compose in Chinese was the Zen monk Zekkai Chūshin (1336-1405).  Born and educated in Japan, he lived in China for eight years at the beginning of the Ming dynasty.  Before leaving China, Zekkai exchanged Chinese poems with the emperor and, after returning to Japan, was appointed abbot of prestigious temples in Kyoto and then head of all Zen monks in the country.  He aided the shogun Yoshimitsu during the restoration of official relations with China in 1401.

Washin Kai Recitation (Rodoku 朗読) of Benkei at the Barrier

Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
Kane Hall, Room 210, University of Washington

 A Modern Retelling of One of the Most Famous Stories in Japanese Samurai Lore
Performed in Japanese by Ms. Kima HOTTA with English subtitles
Based on the novel Ninjō:  Ataka no seki by Mr. Hiroaki TODA

The brilliant general Minamoto no Yoshitsune distinguished himself in battle as a masterly strategist during Japan’s longest civil war, the struggle between the Minamoto and Taira clans that lasted from 1180-85.  

Not long after Yoshitsune destroyed the Taira at Dan-no-ura, he was suspected by his elder half-brother and commander-in-chief Yoritomo of disloyalty, and fled the capital, Kyoto. 

Among his trusted retainers was the formidable Benkei, a warrior and Buddhist monk renowned for his fearlessness, resourcefulness, and steadfast loyalty.  Disguised as traveling ascetics raising funds to rebuild a temple ruined during the war, Yoshitsune and his band of retainers are stopped at the Ataka barrier by a suspicious guard, Togashi Yasuie.

The heart-rending story that follows has been told and heard for centuries.  It was adapted into a noh play, a kabuki play, and a film by Kurosawa.

In this modern retelling, the talented Kima Hotta recites an adaptation of the story by Hiroaki Toda, which fleshes out the story for contemporary audiences and adds its own clever twist.  

REIWA:  Paul Atkins speaks about the new Japanese reign name

With the retirement of Emperor Akihito and the accession of Emperor Naruhito on May 1, Japan entered a new reign, titled Reiwa.  Breaking with some thirteen hundred years of tradition, the Japanese government drew the name, which it says means "beautiful harmony," not from one of the Chinese classics but rather the eighth-century Japanese poetic anthology Man'yōshū (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves).

In an engaging and wide-ranging talk, professor of Japanese and department chair Paul Atkins explained the workings of the era-name system, the historical precedent of using Chinese texts, the meaning of the Chinese characters used to write "Reiwa," their origin in a preface to a group of poems about plum blossoms included in the Man'yōshū, and their relationship to the "Preface at Lanting" (Lanting xu) by Wang Xizhi, one of the most famous works of Chinese calligraphy.

The talk was presented by Washin Kai (Friends of Classical Japanese at UW), including Dr. Yumi Iwasaki, who introduced Professor Atkins, and given at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue as part of Japan Fair in June 2019.  

Washin Kai lecture by Ross Henderson

"A Fistful of Incense: Basara and the Medieval Origins of Japanese Maximalism"

April 16, 2019 7:00 p.m.
Kane Hall room 210, University of Washington, Seattle

PhD student Ross Henderson delivered the Washin Kai spring lecture on Tuesday, April 16, 2019 to nearly 150 guests in Kane Hall at the University of Washington.  His lecture, "A Fistful of Incense: Basara and the Medieval Origins of Japanese Maximalism" brought to light a lesser known Japanese aesthetic and how to spot its presence today.  

Washin Kai lecture by Professor Paul Atkins

Friend from a World Unseen: Fujiwara no Teika and Medieval Japanese Poetry 見ぬ世の友:藤原定家と中世和歌

Thursday, October 25, 2018, 7:00 p.m.
Kane Hall, room 210
University of Washington

Inaugural Washin Kai Lecture:

copyright Paul Atkins

Paul Atkins, professor of Japanese and department chair, gave a lecture on the medieval Japanese poet Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241), titled “Friends from a World Unseen: Fujiwara no Teika and Medieval Japanese Poetry.” It was introduced by Mr. Tay Yoshitani, a member of Washin Kai.

 This lecture touched on Teika’s life, some of his most famous poems, and his work’s reception over the centuries since his death. Dr. Atkins’ intriguing and wide-ranging overview of Teika’s impact on Japanese literature and culture incorporated history, art, and even short clips from a noh play. A central theme was the possibility of knowing Teika—our “friend from a world unseen”—through his diary, calligraphy, and poetry.  The ability to immerse ourselves deeply through reading and writing into the worlds of other people is still relevant in today’s increasingly digital and virtual world.

 Mr. Eugene Saburi, another Washin Kai member, delivered a heart-felt plea for support for the organization's mission after the lecture. Professor Atkins’ lecture was sponsored by Washin Kai 和心会 (Friends of Classical Japanese at UW), which was formed in Spring, 2018 to preserve and strengthen classical Japanese studies at UW.  It is composed of volunteers from the Puget Sound community with strong ties to the university and to Japan, and their goal is to create a permanent fund at UW dedicated to supporting the study of classical Japanese language, literature and culture.

 The next Washin Kai lecture will be given on the evening of April 16, 2019, by Ross Henderson, Ph.D. student in classical Japanese literature.  Please see here for details.

Washin Kai - Tanabata lecture by Professor Paul Atkins

Saturday, July 7, 2018
5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Meydenbauer Center
11100 NE 6th St. Bellevue, WA 98004

Professor Atkins gave a lecture at  Japan Fair this year which coincided with Tanabata, one of the festivals of the traditional Japanese calendar.   Originally based on a Chinese legend, Tanabata commemorates two lovers, the Weaver Girl and the Herder Boy, who were turned into stars (Altair and Vega) that meet in the heavens only once a year. Today in Japan, Tanabata is an occasion for making wishes, but for centuries it has been an important topic in Japanese waka poetry.  

Filmed at Japan Fair 2018

copyright Paul Atkins