Yufuko was born in Osaka, Japan, and grew up nearby in Himeji. She went to university in Kyoto where she majored in Asian history and minored in the history of Chinese ceramics and museum studies. While living in Kyoto, she cultivated her sensibility for tea ware by using national treasure class artifacts in the practice of the Japanese tea ceremony, and spending hours and hours in the museums, the gardens and the temples of the ancient capital. Yufuko nurtured her interests in Buddhist scriptures, tea and pottery through extensive travels in China, Tibet, Nepal and India, where she often stayed with local families. By this experience she learned to place language, religion, pottery and tea in a cultural setting. She was ordained in the Jodo-Shinshu tradition in 1997.
She came to the United States in 2006 and obtained a masters in language studies at San Francisco State University and taught the translation of Buddhist texts into English at the Institute for Buddhist Studies as well as internationally through an online course that she developed. With her husband and the support of Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai she founded No-gate Tea to offer courses in the Japanese Way of Tea to general audiences.
In summer 2015 she started taking classes and making tea ware and flower vases at the Potters’ Studio in Berkeley. Since then, whenever she has time, she comes to the Studio and has made her husband ‘a pottery widower’. Yet, she is still happily married. She has learned about ceramics from Roger Yee, Bob Jonson, Jess Parker, Francis Bliven and the talented staff of the Potters’ Studio.
When she is not making her little tea cups and bowls, she continues to teach the Japanese language, the Japanese Way of Tea, flower arrangement, yoga, and meditation.
“As a child, I practiced the Japanese Way of Tea (or the tea ceremony) with my mother in Japan. I remember how the bowls felt, the sound they made when I set them down, and how I waited for the rippling noise when the water was poured. Later I had the opportunity to use national treasure class artifacts while studying the Japanese tea ceremony in Kyoto and I traveled through the tea growing regions of Asia and learned the Chinese way of tea (kung-fu style tea) in Taiwan and Shang-Hai. Today I use my hands to make ceramic tea ware that evokes sound, tastes, images and feelings of the natural world. Each tea asks for its own preparation, water temperature, and vessel. I do not regard my ceramics as art but as a way of paying respect to the tea cultures of the world.”