Urasenke School of Tea Performs Japanese Tea Ceremony on Board USS Arizona Memorial

The grand teamaster of the Urasenke School of Tea performed a sacred Japanese tea ceremony on board the USS Arizona Memorial at the World War II Valor of the Pacific National Monument, July 19.

More than 200 Japanese and American guests gathered at the USS Arizona Memorial to witness Dr. Genshitsu Sen perform the centuries old tea ceremony. Due to the limited space, an additional 300 attendees watched the event unfold at the World War II Valor of the Pacific National Monument theaters.

Sen, a veteran of World War II, dedicated a bowl of tea to the 1,177 deceased who are memorialized at the monument, in the spirit of reconciliation and peace. The ceremony, also known as “Okenchashiki,” is a sacred tea ceremony to the spirits of the war dead for world peace. The ceremony is conducted without words or music and allows for all participants, regardless of language, nationality or religious beliefs, to share in a spiritual communion together.

“There’s a wonderful phrase in Japanese when translated means ‘One time, one chance, one time, one situation, one opportunity,” said Sen, through an interpreter. “Today, this sacred tea ceremony was important on many different levels. It was an offering of sacred tea to the souls who were lost on the USS Arizona. On another level, it was an apology of sorts, a deep regret of the incident and war. The third important message was ‘world peace;’ that we all came together at a hallowed place in this sacred opportunity to pray for world peace.”

During World War II, Sen was a pilot for the Japanese Navy who flew missions off the coast of Okinawa. As a veteran, Sen said the experience made him truly believe the horrific nature of war.

“War is horrible,” said Sen. “But I also realize that one person alone cannot stop a war. We must all work together to stop war.”

Since 1950, Sen has visited more than 60 countries promoting the Japanese culture and performing tea ceremonies around the world. Sen has performed the tea ceremony for world figures such as First Lady Laura Bush, Princess Diana, former Premier of Russia Mikhail Gorbachev and former Vice President Al Gore.

Attendees of the ceremony included Pearl Harbor survivors Alfred Rogriguez, Sterling Cale and Ray Emory; Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. Patrick Walsh; Japanese Consul General Yoshihiko Kamo; Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie; National Park Service Director, Pacific West Region Christine Lenertz; former Hawaii Gov. George Ariyoshi; and other dignitaries. The event was chaired by former First Lady of Hawaii, Jean Ariyoshi.

“I’m happy to have been invited to the tea ceremony,” said 89-year-old Cale. “It’s a good thing. I’m honored. I met a lot of people who I would not have met otherwise.”

Sixty-five years after the end of World War II, the United States and Japan have formed a new bilateral relationship of harmony and economic friendship.

“Through this sacred ceremony on this hallowed setting, we honor the sacrifices of an extraordinary generation, which made possible the gift of peace to generations that followed,” said Walsh. “Today, our quintessential gifts have been the opportunity for a proud, strong relationship with our counterparts from the Japan Self-Defense Force.

Walsh commented on the strength of the the U.S.-Japanese relationship following the earthquake that struck Japan March 11.

“Earlier this year we learned about our strength and the endurance of our friendship. In times of crisis, in an hour of tragedy, at the moment of calamity, we learned about ourselves and the brotherhood of humanity,” said Walsh.
Source: , July 21, 2011;