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Peace Education

Japanese Tea Ceremony in Washington, DC

Washington, DC, USA - On a beautiful autumn day, the Universal Peace Federation-DC Office presented Japanese tea ceremonies for invited guests from the Washington diplomatic community, friends of UPF, and Ambassadors for Peace. Two tea ceremonies, with an accompanying afternoon lunch and evening dinner, were held on November 10 at the UPF “Peace Embassy” on Upshur Street, which was decorated with autumn flowers and Japanese ornaments to welcome guests.

More than 70 guests - including nine Ambassadors from the countries of Albania, Burkina Faso, Montenegro, Lesotho, Mozambique, Barbados, Cape Verde, Fiji, and Suriname; the Ambassadors’ wives from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Macedonia, Fiji, and Suriname; 54 high-level diplomats from 30 embassies; and several leaders of NGOs – participated in the tea ceremonies.

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For most guests, it was their first direct experience with the forms and practice of the Japanese tea ceremony. Tomiko Duggan, Director of Public Affairs of UPF-DC office, presented an overview of Chado - the “Way of Tea” - to explain how tea and spirituality are united, and how the ceremony was uniquely refined and developed in Japan.

The guests tasted Japanese sweets, wagashi, which are served before the tea to complement and ensure the maximum enjoyment of the green tea’s flavor. After both the afternoon and evening tea ceremony, guests were invited to a prepared sushi meal.

The evening program provided guests more time to stay and express their enthusiasm for learning how to prepare the tea from the tea master and by practicing serving tea to their spouse and friends.

A frequent comment by many of the guests was that at a time in our world when everything that moves quickly is more highly valued and when relationships often demand an immediate result, it was especially enjoyable to be with stimulating people and participate in the thoughtful, deliberate process of the tea ceremony. Many of the guests expressed an appreciation for the simple, elegant beauty of the Japanese tea ceremony. Those guests who had the opportunity to travel to Japan or study Asian societies spoke about the value of learning the history and the significance of practicing Chado.

The Japanese tea ceremonies are presented twice a year as one of the continuing cultural educational programs offered by the UPF-DC office to assist in closing the gaps of understanding that can exist between cultures.

The aesthetic forms and philosophy of Chado were established in 16th century by Rikyu, the Japanese grand tea master, when the practice was applied to enhance the quality of mediation between political leaders. The goal was to create for decision makers an environment of shared respect and internal tranquility that would shape their deliberations.

Rikyu claimed that the essence of the “Way of Tea” is the “Heart of Peace” and condensed his insight and teaching of the Way of Tea into a representation by four Chinese characters –Wa-Kei-Sei-Jyaku:


Wa - Harmony Kei - Respect Sei - Purity Jyaku -Tranquility 

 

Wa is the state of harmony and beauty that only creates a feeling of goodness.

Kei is the attitude of respect for all things. This is not only a sincere respect for human beings but also for the sanctity of nature and all material objects.

Sei is purification. A pure heart without flaw makes a person honest, truthful, and sincere.

Jyaku is the level of enlightenment when you are in oneness with the universal principle. At this stage there is only tranquility in one’s heart.

In Japanese history and culture, the simple ritual disciplines of “Way of Tea” emerged as a unique cultural expression of a profound and fundamental desire to achieve a tranquility of heart and clarity of purpose, a means of instruction on proper relations to others, and a demonstration of respectful awareness of the natural world. In addition to its continuing use as a path to “personal peacefulness through a bowl of tea,” tea has also served as instrument of diplomacy and maintaining social peace.

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