Dr. Genshitsu Sen, the 15th grand tea master of the Urasenke School of Tea, performed a sacred Japanese tea ceremony on 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 Sen perform the centuries old tea ceremony. Due to the limited space, more than 300 attendees watched the event unfold at the World War II Valor of the Pacific National Monument theaters.
In the spirit of reconciliation and peace, Sen, a veteran of WWII, dedicated a bowl of tea to the 1,177 deceased who are memorialized in the Shrine Room. The ceremony, also known as “Okenchashiki,” is a sacred tea ceremony to the spirits of the war dead for world peace, conducted without words or music, 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 are 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 WWII, Sen was a pilot for the Japanese Navy who flew missions off the coast of Okinawa. As a veteran, Sen said the expeience 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, Gorbachov, and former Vice President Al Gore.
Attendees of the ceremony on the USS Arizona Memorial included Pearl Harbor survivors Alfred Rogriguez, Sterling Cale and Ray Emory; Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. Patrick Walsh; Consul General Yoshihiko Kamo of Japan; Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie; Pacific West Regional Director Christine Lenertz of the National Park Service; 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 WWII, 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.
“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. “If history ever records a time and a place to learn about the commitment we make to our fellow man, it would be Japan in the days that followed March 11, 2011 where more people came to offer assistance than departed to avoid damage caused by the earthquake, tsunami and radioactive contamination.”
- Japanese tea ceremony held at USS Arizona Memorial (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- You: Arizona Memorial bilateral first: Urasenke master’s tea ceremony (search.japantimes.co.jp)
- Japan and US hold tea ceremony at Pearl Harbor (telegraph.co.uk)