Dr. Genshitsu Sen, president of the Urasenke Foundation of Hawaii and Urasenke’s 15th grand tea master, hosted a dinner banquet celebrating the conclusion of the 42nd annual tea seminar at the East-West Center on the University of Hawai‘i’s Mänoa campus. Dr. Sen, a vibrant 91 years old, opened the July 21 program at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel by welcoming the Hawai‘i Urasenke tea practitioners and supporters and the seminar participants, many of whom had traveled from Japan to participate in the seminar. He said he was happy to see so many friends and familiar faces in the audience, noting that many Hilo Urasenke supporters were in attendance despite scheduled tea activities in Hilo the next day.
Dr. Sen also took time to recognize two longtime Hawai‘i Urasenke supporters who are celebrating special birthdays this year. Former Hawai‘i Gov. George Ariyoshi celebrated his 88th birthday — in Japanese, the auspicious beiju birthday — earlier this year. Dr. Sen also recognized former University of Hawai‘i president and longtime tea practitioner Dr. Fujio Matsuda, who is celebrating his 90th birthday this year. Both men were presented floral bouquets by Dr. Sen.
Messages were delivered by Consul General of Japan Toyoei Shigeeda, University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa Chancellor Tom Apple and Akemi Kurokawa, president of Chado Urasenke Tanko Kai Hawaii Association.
Consul General Shigeeda said that tea and Hawai‘i’s popular shave ice are good example of bridging cultures because they both warm our hearts.
Chancellor Apple recalled his visit to Urasenke’s headquarters in Kyoto, where he was served tea by Dr. Sen. Prior to entering academia, Apple said he had the opportunity to help construct a chaya (teahouse) in Tondabayashi in Ösaka. Apple called it a “good cultural exchange experience” and one of his first cross-cultural experiences as a young man.
Kurokawa said the number of participants at the tea seminar told him that “tea is very alive and well here and around the world.” He noted that Dr. Sen has worked over 60 years to spread his message of “peace in a bowl of tea.”
Kurokawa noted that over 200 Chado Urasenke Tanko Kai Hawaii Association members practice tea ceremony in the Islands. He said they are also fortunate to have students studying tea in high school. Kurokawa added, however, that he hopes more people in their 30s and 40s will begin to study tea.