SEN Genshitsu in Hungary

    SEN Genshitsu made a visit to the capital of Hungary from June 11-15, 2005. During his brief visit, he conducted a ritual tea offering (kencha-shiki) at Heroes' Square (Hosok tere) in prayer for peace, gave a chanoyu presentation at the magnificent Parliament (Orszaghaz), and met with the Hungarian President and First Lady at the presidential palace, at which time he prepared tea for them. This Tea mission by Dr. Sen to Budapest was occasioned by the visit made to the Urasenke Tokyo Branch by the Hungarian First Lady in September, 2004, during her trip to Japan accompanying her husband. Owing largely to the efforts of the Japanese Ambassador to Hungary, INAGAWA Teruyoshi, the many important activities carried out by the mission could be achieved.

       In the afternoon of June 11, a chado introductory program, in the form of a chanoyu demonstration with explanations, as well as usucha service to the attendees, was presented at Eotvos Lorand University (ELTE), in the south of Budapest, along the Danube. Approximately 350 students and others attended. Ambassador Inagawa opened the program with a short welcome speech. Originally, Dr. Sen was scheduled to deliver a lecture. Because his flight from Japan was greatly delayed due to mechanical problems with the originally booked plane, however, the lecture could not be realized. Deputy tea master GOTO Sokoku, who had arrived with other staff and helpers earlier in the week, provided the explanations for the demonstration, which was performed on the stage in the auditorium. The usucha service, including ryurei temae, took place in the lobby, and was handled by members of the Urasenke Tankokai Hungary Association and other helpers who had come from Japan and elsewhere in Europe.

The "peace prayer" kencha-shiki by Dr. Sen at the impressive Heroes' Square, in the Pest section of the capital, took place from 9 AM on June 12. The attendees included Ambassador Inagawa and his wife, and President Zoltán SÜDY of the Urasenke Tankokai Hungary Association, who formerly was Ambassador of Hungary in Japan. Urasenke Foundation Advisor KATO Chisachi, who formerly was Ambassador of Japan in Switzerland, and who had come to Budapest from Japan on this occasion to participate in all these events, served as MC. A tenchaban table on which to prepare the tea offering had been set up in front of the National War Memorial -- the nation's altar -- which is situated in front of the towering stone column crowned by statue of archangel Gabriel. To begin, Dr. Sen, attended by guards of honor, laid a wreath at the altar. He then sat at the tenchaban and prepared the tea offering. Finally, he solemnly carried the bowl of tea to the dais that was made ready in front of the altar, set the tea offering on the dais, and placed his palms together in prayer.

The afternoon of June 13, Dr. Sen gave a chanoyu presentation for members of parliament, in the Gobelins Room within the massive neo-Gothic Parliament building. The head guest was Katalin SZILI, Speaker of Parliament, for whom Dr. Sen personally prepared a bowl of usucha. Many reporters were there, and the event received wide coverage in the Hungarian news media.

       After this, Dr. Sen, accompanied by Ambassador and Mrs. Inagawa and Dr. and Mrs. Kato, went to Sandor-Palace, on Castle Hill in the Buda section of the city, to meet with and prepare tea for President Ferenc MÁDL and First Lady Dalma MÁDL. The President and First Lady showed great interest and enthusiasm, and asked various questions. President Mádl tried his hand at using the chasen to prepare a bowl of tea himself, and Dr. Sen enjoyed drinking the tea.