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Urasenke Philadelphia is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization dedicated to supporting and promoting awareness of Japanese tea ceremony (chado or chanoyu in Japanese) in Philadelphia and the surrounding region.

For those who are interested in exploring the world of chanoyu more deeply, our teachers offer lessons at a variety of locations, both public and private. Our teachers are all licensed by the Urasenke school of tea ceremony in Kyoto, Japan.


Our group was founded by the late Brother Joseph Keenan (1932-1999), a member of the Christian Brothers Catholic teaching order and a professor at La Salle University.

Brother Keenan first became interested in chado while attending a series of lectures and demonstrations at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. With his background in liturgy, he immediately saw parallels between chado and the Eucharist of the Catholic mass. He began to research the connections between the two rituals, which led him to starting taking lessons in chado.

Brother Keenan’s passion led him to propose offering classes in chado at La Salle. With the support of the Grand Master (Oiemoto) of the Urasenke school, he oversaw the renovation of one of the campus’ outbuildings into a tea ceremony house. The three-year project was completed in 1987.

Brother Keenan taught chado-related courses, allowing La Salle students to take lessons in tea. For members of the public, he and teachers Taeko Shervin and Mariko La Fleur offered weekend and evening classes.

When Brother Keenan died in 1999, the two remaining teachers kept the tea house open with the help of the students and the support of the faculty at La Salle University. In 2007, after La Salle decided to discontinue the tea ceremony program, we found at new home at Shofuso, the Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park, where we continue to offer lessons and demonstrations today.

In 2012, we formally applied to the Urasenke main office in Kyoto, Japan, for permission to become a kyokai, a local branch of the Urasenke membership organization. In September 2012, we became Chado Urasenke Tankokai Philadelphia, or Urasenke Philadelphia for short.

Brother Joseph Keenan, founder of the Urasenke Philadelphia tea group

Brother Joseph Keenan, founder of the Urasenke Philadelphia tea group

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