President and First Lady of Finland Attend Tea Gathering Hosted by SEN Genshitsu at Konnichian

The flags of Finland and Japan at the Kabutomon front gate to Konnichian

President Sauli NIINISTO of the Republic of Finland and his wife, Mrs. Jenni HAUKIO, made an official visit to Japan March 8 to 11, 2016, by invitation of the Japanese government. The first day of their visit was in Kyoto, and on that day they visited the Urasenke estate, Konnichian, where they were received by Daisosho SEN Genshitsu for a chakai (tea gathering) held in the Heisei Chashitsu.

Daisosho Sen greets the presidential couple
upon their arrival.
Daisosho Sen leads them from the
Kabutomon to the Heisei Chashitsu.

Daisosho Sen has served as President of the Kansai Japan-Finland Society since its founding in 1979. Under his leadership, in 1988 the Society established a fellowship program wherein one person a year from Finland could study chado in Kyoto in the Midorikai program for non-Japanese at the Urasenke Gakuen Professional College of Chado. Today, the Midorikai program coordinator is Mika MAKELA of Finland, and he was by Daisosho Sen's side to act as interpreter on this occasion.
     Daisosho Sen's guests were shown into the main room in the Heisei Chashitsu, the Chofu-no-ma, where ryurei tables and stools had been installed for their comfort. While Gyotei (Konnichian deputy tea master) KURAKAZU Sokaku conducted the temae, Daisosho provided explanations and chatted with the guests. One topic was about the visit of KOIZUMI Jun'ichiro, Japan's Prime Minister at the time, to Finland's World Heritage fortress island, Suomenlinna, location of the Urasenke tea room, Tokuyuan, where local Urasenke members in Finland hold chado activities. The members were able to host a tea gathering for Prime Minister Koizumi on that occasion.
     The presidential couple drank the usucha (matcha of relatively thin consistency) that had been prepared for them by Gyotei Kurakazu. Afterwards, Daisosho Sen guided them in how to whisk usucha, and he himself drank both the bowl of usucha prepared by President Niinisto and that prepared by Mrs. Haukio. A sense of warmth and friendship pervaded the gathering.