ASIANetwork Embodied Learning About Asia: Awarded Projects

Academic Year 2023-24 Awards

Carleton College

Experiential Learning Through Looking and Making: The Japanese Tea Ceremony
Hosts: Kathleen Ryor, Art History & Asian Studies; Kelly Connole, Art
Residents: Hitomi and Takuro Shibata, Studio Touya in North Carolina 

This project will bring Japanese ceramicists Hitomi and Takuro Shibata to Carleton College for a two-week residency in fall 2023, during which they will contribute to a pair of courses on chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony. In this dyad, 15 Carleton undergraduates will concurrently enroll in Arts of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, taught by Kathleen Ryor, the Tanaka Memorial Professor of International Understanding and Art History and Director of Asian Studies, and Ceramics: Vessels for Tea, taught by Kelly Connole, Professor of Art. By taking the courses simultaneously, students will dramatically expand their knowledge and skills about both art history and art making. The Shibatas’ residency will strengthen Asian studies at Carleton by expanding the interdisciplinary program’s range to include arts practices such as making the implements for the tea ceremony and conducting the ceremony itself. In addition, the residency will foster connections between ceramics communities in the Upper Midwest, including the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, and North Carolina.


Colgate University

Chanoyu “The Way of Tea”: Embodied Learning and its Significance 
Host: Yukari Hirata, Japanese 
Resident: Soryu Yamakawa, tea master from Kumamoto, Japan 

“The way of tea,” chanoyu or chado/sado, was formalized by Sen no Rikyu in the 16th century in Japan, with “harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility” as its principles. It is one of the most direct practice of Zen Buddhism tradition in Japan. Many chanoyu demonstrations by certified tea masters have taken place in the U.S. in the past decades, but many parts of this intricate art stay mysterious or hidden to many people.   This proposed program will invite a Tea Master, Soryu Yamamkawa, from Kumamoto, Japan, to Colgate University campus, and will provide lectures and embodied learning sessions to students and faculty of various departments from both Humanities and Science. Participants are drawn from not only Japanese, Chinese, and Asian Studies major programs, but also from Departments of Art, Religion, Psychology, and Neuroscience, the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum, and the Mind, Body, and Behavior Initiative of Colgate University, as well as those from nearby universities.   Participants will engage in embodied learning by sitting together with Master Yamakawa on the tatami floor in a small Japanese room, following her instructions, and practicing parts or whole of the tea ceremony. The embodied learning will be coupled with lecture/discussion sessions. What do you uniquely obtain by concrete embodiment of chanoyu as opposed to just reading or hearing about it? What do you gain from slowing down in the modern world and receiving a bowl of tea as once-in-a-lifetime experience as Tea Masters would say? What are the effects of learning by seeing, touching, hearing, and smelling — but not talking? What may be the cognitive effects of embodied learning, and what kind of scientific research we might develop? Coupled with their embodied experience, participants will reflect, discuss, and write essays on these topics, and discuss ideas for possible interdisciplinary research.  


Luther College

Embodied Learning and Daoist Cultivation: Martial Arts, Calligraphy, Music, and Medicine 
Hosts: Gereon Kopf, Religion; Scott Hurley, Religion 
Resident: Zhongxian Wu, founder of QinJian Akademin in Stockholm 

Luther College will host a three-week residency through ASIANetwork’s Embodied Learning about Asia Program that highlights the work of Zhongxian Wu, a Daoist teacher and a lineage holder in a number of qigong and martial arts systems as well as an accomplished Chinese calligrapher and guqin player. Along with Luther faculty members in Art, Dance, Religion, Identity Studies, and Global Health, Zhongxian Wu will involve Luther students in embodied learning activities derived from Chinese cultural contexts, providing opportunities during class visits, workshops, and campus lectures to learn about and, more importantly, experience Chinese martial arts, qigong, classical Chinese music, and Chinese calligraphy. In doing so, he will introduce faculty, staff, and students to traditional Chinese culture, classical Chinese medicine theory, and Daoist practice and teachings. He will also work with students one-on-one, helping them integrate what they learn about embodiment practices in Chinese culture, religion, and art into class projects, performances, and senior papers. Notably, the proposed project will contribute to Luther College’s plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Asian Students and Allies Association (ASAA).  This celebration will take place throughout the 2023-24 academic year and intends to center not only on the life experiences of ASAA students and alumni, but also the work of Asian and Asian American scholars and artists.  


Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Tibetan Contemplative Practices: Intersection of Mindfulness, Culture, and Science 
Host: Timothy Grose, China Studies 
Residents: Geshe Kunga and Tenpa Phuntsok, senior monks from the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center 

This project proposes an immersive exploration of the intersection between Tibetan Buddhist contemplative practices (e.g., meditation and yoga) and cognitive psychology. Specifically, the funds will facilitate a two-week residency of two senior monks from the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center (TMBCC) in Bloomington, Indiana to lead members of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology’s (RHIT) campus community in introductory meditation and yoga practices. In line with the His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso’s commitment to reforming monastic curriculum through modern science education (Tenzin 2019), the project will present participants with two epistemically distinct yet complementary perspectives of the mind: Indo-Tibetan introspection and “Western” empirical reductionist frameworks (Koch 2013). Supplemented by directed readings, lectures, journaling exercises, and self-inventories, the meditation and yoga practices will deepen participants’ understanding of the mind while equipping them with lifelong techniques for achieving mindfulness. Throughout the two-week program, the activities and lectures also seek to demystify, de-exotify, and decolonize Tibetan Buddhist cultures: to this end, it will delink these worldviews from colonial hierarchies of “modernity” and elevate them to centers of epistemic authority (Avalos et al., 2019).


University of Findlay

Embodied Learning about Japanese Culture through Pottery: Artwork and Reflection with Mr. Hiroshige Kato 
Host: Hiroaki Kawamura, Japanese 
Resident: Hiroshige Kato, pottery master from Aichi prefecture, Japan

This project will create opportunities for participants to learn about Asian and Japanese culture through first-person engagement with a professional pottery artist from Japan. The artist is Mr. Hiroshige Kato, the 12th head of the Akazu Kitagama kiln from Aichi prefecture, Japan. The project will be collaborative at three levels. First, this will be a collaborative project between the Art and Japanese programs of the University of Findlay. Second, this will be a partnership between the Findlay Art League and the University. And, lastly, the University of Findlay will work with other educational institutions in northwest Ohio to promote Asian and Japanese culture. Through these partnerships, the project aims to achieve two goals. First, the project will provide deeply reflective and experiential learning opportunities for students. Second, the project will serve as build capacity to continue promoting Asian and Japanese culture through pottery in northwest Ohio. The duration of Mr. Kato’s stay will be 2.5 weeks. During his stay, he will engage in Japanese pottery making from making clay, working with clay on pottery wheels, to glazing and firing ceramics, together side-by-side with students. We envision that participants’ experiences will be not only intellectual but also sensory. Mr. Kato will engage with people even outside of the Ceramic House. He will go to an art museum with students, exhibit his work on campus and in the community, and interact with the public at receptions and a public lecture. Through first-person engagement, this project will promote Asian and Japanese studies in northwest Ohio.