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Peace Education

Japanese Tea Ceremony for Diplomats in Washington DC

Washington DC, USA - The Japanese tea ceremony was held on April 17, 2014, during the most beautiful season in Washington, DC. People come from all over the world to enjoy the famous cherry blossoms, which were in peak bloom, along with purple and yellow magnolias, daffodils and tulips during this idyllic spring season.

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A Japanese folk song says: “Even the willow trees in the spring breeze invite us to look at the cherry blossoms. When the hazy moon rises over the cherry blossoms, how can I express this priceless moment?”

With light Japanese music in the background and UPF staff members wearing kimonos, the classical dress of Japan, powdered green tea was ceremonially served in “The Way of Tea” tradition to friends of UPF and to honored acquaintances on April 17, 2014 at the UPF Peace Embassy in Washington, DC.

About 30 guests including ambassadors, spouses of ambassadors and diplomats from the embassies of Afghanistan, Bahamas, Cambodia, Fuji, Micronesia, and Mozambique along with other friends attended the luncheon and dinner programs. For the occasion, the Peace Embassy was decorated with elegant Japanese décor, including wall screens, oriental prints, hanging scrolls and wood carvings.

An explanation of the tea ceremony was given by Tomiko Duggan, Director of Public Affairs, UPF-Washington, DC, along with a demonstration on how to receive the tea bowl through this traditional method of preparing and drinking maccha, or powdered green tea. Along with the tea, delicious Japanese desserts and sweets were served. Zen Buddhism was a primary influence in the development of the ceremony. According to Buddhism’s philosophy of balance, the sweets counterbalance the bitter taste of the tea.

The ceremony is more than just drinking tea; it is a spiritual experience. It is said that the “Grand Master” of the Japanese tea ceremony, Sensho Tanaka, attained a state of consciousness equal to that of Zen meditation. Based on his spiritual awakening, the ceremony’s philosophy of courtesy and manners was developed as a way to refine one’s personality and to help build a culture of moral principles.

The goal of the Japanese tea ceremony is explained by the following four Chinese characters:

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

  1. Wa - The state of harmony and beauty, which leads to feelings of goodness.
  2. Kei - An attitude of respect for all things, not only for human beings, but for the sanctity of nature.
  3. Sei - A pure heart makes a person honest, truthful and sincere.
  4. Jyaku - Enlightenment. When a person has only tranquility in their heart.

Guests lingered after the program enjoying each other’s company and to practice making and serving tea. The Way of Tea is a delightful way to touch people’s hearts and to introduce one of UPF’s cultural programs.

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