Urasenke Participates in Expo Milano 2015

Expo Milano 2015 opened on May 1, 2015, under the theme "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life." Japan, one of the over 140 participating countries, sponsored the Japan Pavilion, one of the largest pavilions of Expo Milano 2015. From the opening day to May 5, demonstrations of Urasenke chado were held in the Japan Pavilion Event Plaza, at which chado was presented as a portal through which people can connect to the many facets of Japanese traditional culture. Urasenke Iemoto SEN Soshitsu XVI, his son SEN Takafumi, daughter SEN Makiko, and cousin OTANI Hiromi were present for the opening activities, and personally introduced chado to visitors during the first two days. They were supported by tea practitioner volunteers gathered from members of the Sumirekai group in Japan, the Urasenke Tankokai Milano Association, the Urasenke Tankokai Zurich Association, and the Urasenke Tankokai United Kingdom Association.

The Expo Milano 2015 Japan Pavilion

On the evening before the opening of the Expo, Iemoto hosted a banquet at the Park Hyatt Hotel for organizers of the Japan Pavilion and the volunteers who gathered to support the Urasenke head family. At this pre-event, he as well as his son and daughter expressed words of encouragement for the challenges that lay ahead. KOGA Kyoko, Consul-General of Japan in Milan, joined the banquet as a special guest, and also gave a short speech.

On May 1, the ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the Japan Pavilion from 11:00 a.m., and Iemoto SEN Soshitsu XVI participated in the ribbon-cutting as representative of the participant organizations in the Event Plaza. Following this, opening ceremony participants, including SAKURABA Eietsu (Director, Food Industry Affairs Bureau, Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) and TERAZAWA Tatsuya (Director-General for Commerce, Distribution and Industrial Safety Policy, Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry), moved inside the Japan Pavilion to the Event Plaza and were among the first of Urasenke's guests at this Expo. Iemoto welcomed them to the opening chado demonstration, and narrated it while SEN Takafumi performed the temae (tea-making procedure).

The Japan Pavilion ribbon-cutting ceremony

SEN Soshitsu XVI narrates the chado demonstration SEN Takafumi conducts temae

At the demonstrations on the first two days, Iemoto provided the many visitors with explanation about chado and the process of temae, and Takafumi, Makiko, or the volunteer tea practitioners conducted the temae. Washi folding screens created by washi artist HORIKI Eriko, which were backlit to highlight their elegant design, were the central feature of the chado stage. At one side of the stage, millstones for grinding matcha into powder were set up so that visitors could grind tea themselves. Between demonstrations, a DVD that introduced chado was screened. Much effort was put into providing the visitors of the Event Plaza with a comprehensive introduction to the Japanese tradition of chado. Over the five days of demonstrations, approximately 2,000 expo visitors observed the chado demonstrations and sampled the sweets and tea of chado, many of whom had never before seen a chado demonstration.

SEN Makiko conducts temae View of the Event Plaza stage
during a chado demonstration

Sweets and tea are served to guests

Other special Japanese guests on the opening day included Ambassador and Mrs. UMEMOTO Kazuyoshi of the Japanese Embassy in Italy, and a group from the Japanese Diet's House of Councillors who were in Italy for a Japan-European Union Parliamentary Assembly. Among them, the following were close friends of Urasenke, serving as president or vice president of their respective local Urasenke Tankokai chapter in Japan: KOSAKA Kenji (former Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), ISHIHARA Nobuteru (former Minister of Environment), and GOTODA Masazumi (former Cabinet Office Vice Minister). On May 4, Minister HAYASHI Yoshimasa of the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, who serves as president of the Urasenke Tankokai Shimonoseki chapter, accompanied the Commissioner General for Expo Milano, Bruno PASQUINO, to the Event Plaza for sweets and tea.

Additional views of the demonstrations of Urasenke chado from May 1-5: