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Peace Education

Mission of Nigeria to the UN Hosts Tea Ceremony

New York, NY - At the invitation of the Nigerian Mission to the United Nations, the Universal Peace Federation organized a cultural program to demonstrate how the culture of peace is manifested in Japan through the Japanese Tea Ceremony.

Present at the tea ceremony were Permanent Representatives H.E. Mr. Pablo Solón of Bolivia, H.E. Mr. Milorad Šćepanović of Montenegro, and H.E. Mr. Miloš Koterec of the Slovak Republic. Also present were Deputy Permanent Representatives Dr. Zoya Kolontai of Belarus, Mr. Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota of Brazil, Mr. Shalva Tsiskarashvili of Georgia, H.E. Mr. Gian Lorenzo Cornado of Italy, Mrs. Angella Brown of Jamaica, Mr. Shanker Das Bairagi of Nepal, and Mr. Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk of Ukraine. As representatives, Mr. Liu Yutong and Mr. Gao Ming from the People’s Republic of China were present.

Japanese ladies, clad in exquisite kimono or traditional gowns, welcomed the guests at the 21st floor function room, which had been transformed into an artfully decorated tea ceremony room, accented with ‘chabana’ flowers especially arranged by the Tea Master, Mrs. Fumie Watanabe. The Japanese women took at least one hour to dress with the multiple layers of the kimono. Surrounded by beauty and peace, the diplomats showed deep appreciation for the efforts of the women and took commemorative photos.

As host to the cultural program, Her Excellency Mrs. U. Joy Ogwu, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, commented on the necessity to better understand each others’ cultures in order to better work with others, which is especially applicable in the United Nations environment. It is through exchanges of culture that dialogue and understanding can be promoted.

Following this, Mr. Taj Hamad, Secretary General of Universal Peace Federation, warmly welcomed all of the guests with the intention of making them relax from the pressures at the United Nations. Mr. Hamad introduced them to the favorite delicacy of Japan, sushi, as well as a more familiar food – chicken. The Ambassadors and diplomats thoroughly enjoyed the food with chopsticks and many ate the sushi with wasabi, ginger, and soy sauce. A Nigerian diplomat even asked if he could take the left over wasabi home to eat with his fish! The lunch concluded with a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere and a change of pace from pressing international issues at the UN.

After lunch the Japanese ladies sang two songs for the guests; Hurusato (“homeland”) and Sarang He (“I love you”), accompanied by pianist Mr. Andy Miyamoto. Mrs. Kyoko Sato, Master of Ceremonies, then set the mood for the tea ceremony. She explained the importance of the tea ceremony (the Way of Tea) and its themes (harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility) with a serene smile. Delegates attentively listened while watching the Tea Master, Mrs. Fumie Watanabe, stir green tea powder and water in a Japanese traditional method with a special Japanese whisk. Sato informed the diplomats how to receive and drink the green tea, and each person received a bowl of tea according to the Japanese tea ceremony tradition. The first participant, H.E. Ambassador Mr. Gian Lorenzo Cornado of Montenegro, led the way by drinking the tea in the expected 3 ½ sips, with the expected slurp from the last half sip. Mrs. Angella Brown of Jamaica followed, imitating the teasing sounds, thus soliciting smiles and laughter from the audience.

After everyone had received their Japanese sweets and green tea, Ms. Milvi Saarna, who previously lived in Japan with relatives, explained the history, evolution, and traditions of ‘Chadou’ more in depth. She thanked the two Chinese diplomats for the tea which a Japanese monk had originally brought from China to Japan for medicinal purposes. The presentation ended with a story about a humble Tea Master who trembled with anxiety over his poor utensils. Rikyu, the Father of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, protected this Tea Master from negative comments, by stating: “Though you wipe your hands and brush off the dust and dirt from the tea vessels, what is the use of all this fuss if the heart is still impure?”

After the ceremony concluded, the delegates shook hands and thanked the sponsors, as the Japanese ladies handed out origami gift boxes containing Japanese sweets. Many hearts were surely warmed and touched by the essence of the traditional tea ceremony.

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