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Peace Education

A Japanese Tea Ceremony in Washington, DC

The 14th Japanese Tea Ceremony was held at the Verizon building in downtown Washington, DC, on October 23, 2008. The venue was conveniently located in the center of the commercial district of the city, in the same office building as UPI and the Youth Federation for World Peace.

In this beautiful autumn season, the ceremony was held twice, at lunch and at dinner time. Sixty people, including eight ambassadors, attended and enjoyed the tea along with the explanation of the ceremony's history and significance. Ambassador Denis G. Antoine of Grenada was especially impressed with the etiquette and fascinated by the practice of the tea ceremony and its deeply rooted tradition going back a thousand years.

The host of the ceremony, the Tea Master, prepares the tea for the guest with the spirit that he will meet this person only once in his life time. Therefore, he prepares himself and all items with special care and attention. He aims to create an environment of utmost beauty and simplicity offering a sweet before the bitter tasting green tea, a skillfully decorated bowl of tea, and delicious Japanese cuisine.

A famous story illustrates this point. A Grand Master of the tea ceremony in the 15th century, Rikyu, was asked to prepare tea for the Lord Toyotomi on an early summer morning. Rikyu's house was very famous for its flowering morning glory plants. Lord Toyotomi was looking forward to seeing hundreds of blooming morning glories at the tea house. The flower typically lasts for a single morning and dies in the afternoon. New flowers bloom each day.

However, when Lord Toyotomi arrived at the tea house, he could not see any morning glories. Puzzled at this, he entered the tea house only to see one glorious morning glory placed in the most precious part of the house. Rikyu had picked all the blossoms in his garden before the Lord arrived and offered only the most beautiful one where the Lord would be going to enjoy the tea.

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