President & CEO, CHA-Link Inc
Miss Tea Ambassador Japan
Master Of Leaf Tea Ceremony
Japanese Tea Instructor / Sommelier
Message from RiCA
Will Technology development
make us happy?
I still vividly remember the day while I was working as a volunteer in East Timor, the youngest Asian country in Southeast Asia, and on that day I tried to listen to thoughts and opinions from my Timorese colleagues about “suicide”, which is one of the biggest issues in Japan. However, I was unable to make much progress; many of their first responses were questions such as, “so, Japanese people don’t have families?” And they were so serious, they really didn’t understand the concept of suicide at all and we couldn't even discuss it.
This is one of my life-changing events, and it has been inscribed in my heart as a shocking memory. This experience made me think that people in developing countries may still have something important that we, people who live in developed countries, are on the verge of losing.
Another story that makes me believe that people in developed countries are losing their ways is one involving my grandmother who lives in Tokyo. Once a month, I take my 90-year old grandmother to her hospital visit which is about a 40-minute train ride. Most of the time the train is completely full once we board so we usually stand in front of the seats. However, in most cases no one nearby will offer their seat for my elderly grandmother. It is heartbreaking for me to see young and healthy people ignoring the elderly’s need to sit on trains; they continue to be glued to their smartphones, listening to music, or sleep while I do my best to ensure my grandmother’s safety.
In East Timor, people were always smiling at me and so pleased to help me whenever I needed help. In contrast in Tokyo people are always exhausted and most don't spare the time to concern themselves with anyone besides themselves.
Now, does this mean Japanese people are bad people? Not necessarily, however obviously something is wrong.
I thought we had been pursuing happiness by developing our countries; are we going towards the right direction? Maybe it’s time to stop running but walk instead while reevaluating the way we live.
Be strong and tender with Cha-link
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say our modern lifestyles are filled with fatigue, stress, and anxiety. You might be feeling everything is out of control as if you were in a crazy storm.
If that is true, what you can try to do is to be more aware of your conditions objectively, and then accept it as it is without emotional judgement. Try to not blame yourself for things without understanding the situation as a whole, many people would think, “Oh no, this is the worst, I’m always messing up”.
Our countries and societies have continued to develop, and while many people worship the progress in technology, we cannot deny its harmful side effects have also been making us tired with an increased need in multi-tasking and information overload.
However, I hope you don’t jump to the conclusion that technology and development is evil. All things have positives and negatives, this is a truth that won’t change in the next decade or even century.
So first, you should break your judgmental habits based on your emotional assumptions. Thoughts such as “This has to be the problem,” or “I always feel bad because of this.” The first most important step is accepting yourself and the situation, and then work on the bigger issue after that.
I think it would be beneficial for you to take some time for yourselves. I take good care of my mental health everyday by spending at least 20 minutes on making and enjoying tea. I found that even with spending this short time on making tea, it is enough to boost the quality of my daily life and warm my heart.
Of course, I am not telling you to avoid facing the bigger problems in life. It is always difficult to change external factors such as the environment, situation, and other people when things are hard for you. Conversely, the easiest factor change is to yourself. Your approach to the situation can vastly change your outlook, and eventually change the situation. Learning how to find your peace of mind will help your perspective of the world and you will become more flexible to deal with any new adversities in life.
This is the goal I want to realize utilizing cha-link.
In the cha-link programs, you will learn the mindfulness state of mind based on 4 steps: Be Aware, Accept, Let Go, and Focus On The Moment. First, so you will be aware of yourself, you are going to develop the axis of your heart or your self compassion through 4 themes: “Senses”, “Emotions”, “Cognition”, and “True Self”.
If you are led to this website and something resonated with you, why don’t you give yourself an opportunity to think about true happiness together with us?
Memories in My Grandma’s Tea Shop in Tokyo
In 1915 my family opened a retail shop in Higashikurume, Tokyo. As a young adult my grandmother worked for a tea research institute. She married my grandfather and moved to Tokyo from Iruma-shi, Saitama. Iruma-shi is one of the most popular tea producers in Japan. Our family started selling tea in the family shop.
I’ve been obsessed about tea since I was a young child. After elementary school I usually went to the store and would suggest to the staff and family ”Ok, it's time for tea and rest!". My grandmother and I would make everyone tea and we would all talk about our day. I really loved the time spent conversing with everyone over a cup of tea, and since then the conversations have become as important as the tea itself.
In 2013, after 98 years, our family had to close the family shop due to financial difficulties. During the store’s final days I witnessed the long daily queue of customers visiting our shop. They often gave us beautiful words of encouragement, such as ”You guys should continue the store," ”Your store helped us," and “We will miss the store”. One of the most touching moments was when a customer cried for us. That scene is still vivid in my memory.
Experience in East Timor
for 2 and a half years
I joined a project of the Japan International Cooperation Agency as a volunteer in 2014 and was assigned to work for the Marketing Department of the Ministry of Tourism of East Timor. For 2.5 years I worked very hard for East Timor’s development and future. During my time there I realized that as an outsider I could offer support but that lasting developments needed to be managed by the local citizens. This encouraged me to return to Japan and work for my own country.
cha-link aims to link people from different worlds through Japanese tea
For these experiences, I have founded CHA-Link to enliven the Japanese tea industry and culture. During my stay in East Timor, people were always happy to help me so that I can live there without any trouble while I was working for their country. This experience taught me that this world has been realized because people need to help each other and that it’s impossible to live alone. Through Japanese tea, our instructors and myself hope to add some mindfulness and harmony to our own little corners of the world.
I’m happy that you have read the message from me until the end. I feel like we have something in common as you might be interested in my thoughts. Let’s meet at a cha-link’s event. I am sure I can offer a great time for you who have read my article until the very end. Looking forward to seeing you soon.
Tea Ambassador contest
Rica's interview starts from 2:09
Cinema 5D documentary
Rica’s Tea Biography
August 10, 1989
Born in a family running a tea shop in Higashikurume, Tokyo. Her grandmother was a master of Japanese leaf tea ceremony
Graduated from Koyama Kindergarten started helping her family at the casher in her family shop
Graduated from Daini Primaryschool Loved chewing tea leaves like a gum
Graduated form Daimon Middleschool The first email address she made was “greeeeeen-tea-love@xxxx”
Graduated from Oizumi Highschool Started working for the family shop officially as a part timer
Graduated from Aoyama Gakuin University, Bachelor of English & American Literature. Majored in Recreation & Tourism Management in San Diego State University for 2 semesters. Learned about tea manufacturing at a tea farm in Shizuoka which my family has worked with since my grandma’s generation. Started voluntarily introducing Japanese tea to American friends while studying in the US
2014 to 2016
Joined a projest of the Official Development Assistance under Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2014. She worked for the marketing office of the Ministry of Tourism, Timor-Leste for 2 years as a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer. She was especially in charge of marketing for an international mountain bike stage race, Tour de Timor and succeeded in raising the number of participants from abroad in 2015 more than double the number in 2014
After finishing her mission as a volunteer, she accepted an offer from the Ministry of Youth & Sport, Timor-Leste to be a marketing and hospitality adviser for the Tour de Timor and Dili Marathon in 2016. Decided to contribute to her own country through her experiences in Timor-Leste. So she founded CHA-Link holding a vision to link people from different worlds through Japanese tea.
Launched the website “CHA-Link” and started holding Japanese tea events in other countries. Got certified to be a Japanese tea instructor
Got awarded to be the First Miss Tea Ambassador of Japan to share the beauty of Japanese tea around the world by winning a Tea Ambassador Contest organized by the Tea Association of Japan
Developed cha-link tea mindfulness – purify yourself and grow your inner peace – and she devotes herself to sharing this idea with people domestically and internationally. Got certified to be a master of Japanese leaf tea ceremony by the same school as her grandma.
Unintentionally Rica established CHA-Link Inc as an official Japanese company on August 6, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Day. Her passion for World Peace has grown even stronger. Passed a national exam to be a Domestic & International Travel Service Supervisor and got certified to run domestic and international travel businesses.
Other projects and jobs she is (was) involved with other companies and organizations beyond tea（The followings are main progects）：
Lecturer of “tea and meditation” at Higashikurume Citizens’ Collage
until now Interpreter between English and Japanese for Japan Para-cycling Federation *Para-cycling is the official cycling sport for Paralympics
2016 to 2018
Business development director for Shares Ltd,. (a Japanese startup specialized in developing algorithms and tools for corporate analysis) She presented their ideas and solutions in front of investors and won at a pitch contest, Tokyo Startup Dating 9th Edition among 9 startups
Interpreter between English and Japanese & Coordinator of a social program to think about your happiness held in Portland, the USA “
Lecturer of international cooperative volunteering work at Aoyama Gakuin University
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