Greek Prime Minister Constantinos SIMITIS at Konnichian

Winding up his six-day official visit to Japan which began on March 3, 2002, Greek Prime Minister Constantinos SIMITIS, together with his daughter Marilena and a large entourage, made a visit to Konnichian on March 7. At 10:30 A.M., when they arrived at the Kabutomon front gate to the Konnichian tearoom complex, Grand Master SEN Soshitsu XV was waiting at the gate to greet them. The Prime Minister, his daughter, and sixteen others, including Government Spokesman Christos PROTOPAPAS, Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Tassos GIANNITSIS and Mrs. Giannitsis, Ambasador and Mrs. Elias KATSAREAS of the Greek Embassy in Tokyo, and Ambassador and Mrs. OKUBO Motoi of the Japanese Embassy in Greece, were led into the Totsutotsusai, where the Grand Master himself made tea for the top guests. Others of the entourage were seated in the Kan'untei tearoom, where they were served tea by members of the Urasenke corps of in-house tea masters.

The Grand Master welcomes the Prime Minister
and his daughter
The Grand Master prepares the tea for the Prime Minister

   The alcove of the Totsutotsusai featured a scroll bearing the words "Wa Kei Sei Jaku," brushed by the 11th-generation Urasenke grand master, Gengensai. The sweets served this day were the traditional "Hitchigiri" for Hinamatsuri, the Girls' Day Festival observed on March 3. The water jar was a blue-and-white one with grape trellis design, which the Grand Master chose for its allusion to the famous vineyards in Greece. As it was the month of March, the kettle heated over the sunken hearth was a cylindrical one suspended from the ceiling by a chain.
   Following the tea-making by the Grand Master, the guests were shown the elegant red-lacquered tea caddy which he had used, which contained freshly ground powdered tea made from tea specially procured from Uji for this day's special guests. Miss Simitis tried her hand at whipping a bowl of tea, which the Grand Master drank with gusto.
   Afterwards, the Grand Master showed the Prime Minister and others to the Tairyuken room, where two elegant sets of Hinamatsuri prince & princess dolls, and folding screens with paintings of flowering plum branches by OGATA Korin, were on display. Then, in the Yushinken, he enjoyed chatting with them, and presented them with special gifts he had readied. At this time, the Prime Minister invited the Grand Master to visit Greece, and the Grand Master promised that he would do so in the near future.
   Before the Prime Minister and his daughter boarded their limousine from in front of the modern Urasenke Center, the Grand Master showed them into the Konnichian Library at the Center. They had a brief few minutes to thumb through a copy of the original edition of the BOOK OF TEA by OKAKURA Kakuzo, and showed that they were highly impressed by the words they found there.

Miss Simitis makes a bowl of tea The Grand Master and Prime Minister chat in the Yushinken