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Peace Education

Tea Ceremony for Diplomats in Washington, DC

USA-2010-05-27-Tea Ceremony for Diplomats in Washington, DC

Washington, DC, USA - The Japanese Tea Ceremony, Cha Do or “The Way of Tea,” was exhibited to diplomats at the UPF Peace Embassy during both lunch and dinner on May 27.

This was the first event held at the new Peace Embassy since the UPF-Washington, DC office was relocated there from Virginia. The Peace Embassy was nicely decorated with traditional Japanese items and beautiful flowers to welcome members of the diplomatic community. Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, President of UPF-International, came down from New York to welcome the guests on this occasion.

Six Japanese staff members wore traditional Japanese kimono, which made the tea ceremony formal and special. The colorful designs on the kimono, combined with the obi, the wide belt worn around the waist which contrasts with the kimono fabric, impressed the guests. A Japanese sushi meal and traditional sweets were also prepared so that the guests could experience the 1,000 year history and tradition of the tea ceremony.

The program opened with a Japanese song, “Sakura" (Cherry Blossoms) by Nanae Goto, followed by the history of the tea ceremony, explained by Tomiko Duggan. She introduced the internal aspects of the tea ceremony from which developed the Way of Tea.

The Japanese Tea Ceremony creates a unique experience in life by elevating the mundane practice of drinking tea to a spiritual discipline in the practice of a simplified life based on the Zen philosophy. The Way of Tea was started by Murata Shuko, who received Zen Buddhist training and brought together the tea practice and spirituality. Shuko perceived the transcendent spirit of the tea ceremony, where spirit and tea came to be seen as one and the same. The preparation of the tea-making materials, including the raku bowls, was developed with the strictest discipline, which further suppors the transcendent nature of the tea ceremony experience.

A bowl of green, bitter tea refreshes and purifies, and is seen to imbue the guests with the universal principles of life. The host invites the guests to experience a transcendence of their concerns of life and find peacefulness through drinking a bowl of tea in the middle of their busy schedules. One of the Grand Tea Masters described wa (harmony), kei (respect), sei (purity), and jyaku (tranquility) as the attributes of the Way of Tea.

Mrs. Kumiko Francis, garbed in a beautiful kimono, served as tea master and hostess for this ceremony using the traditional tools and demonstration. She invited guests to come forward afterward to learn more about this simple but deeply moving ceremony. The guests enjoyed experiencing how to make tea by themselves and drinking another bowl of tea.

The tea ceremony provides an occasion for social gathering and networking as well.

UPF-Washington, DC office offers the Japanese Tea Ceremony twice a year, and this program has been very popular since it was first hosted in 2005.

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