Tea Offering Ceremony by SEN Genshitsu at the USS Arizona Memorial

The USS Arizona Memorial at dawn on July 19, 2011.

On July 19, 2011, approximately two hundred Japanese and American guests assembled at the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, to take part in a kenchashiki, or "tea offering ceremony," conducted by Urasenke Daisosho SEN Genshitsu honoring the spirits of the war dead and praying for world peace. The hour long ceremony began from 7:30 in the morning, progressing as the sun gradually rose from the east. Among the dignitaries in attendance were three former Hawaii Governors: George ARIYOSHI, John WAIHEE, and Ben CAYETANO. Also, three Pearl Harbor survivors were seated in the front row, as honored guests, and there were representatives of the all-Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team and 100th Infantry Battalion, and the Nisei who served in the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) during WWII. Because of the limited space, more than three hundred Urasenke followers and others watched the event at the World War II Valor of the Pacific National Monument theaters. Many television cameras and reporters from both the local and Japanese media were also on the scene.

Former First Lady of Hawaii, Jean ARIYOSHI, serves as Mistress of Ceremonies.

         Former First Lady of Hawaii, Jean ARIYOSHI, who with her husband George ARIYOSHI is a close acquaintance of Daisosho SEN Genshitsu, and who led the initiative for this first-ever Japanese tea offering ceremony at the USS Arizona Memorial, served as Mistress of Ceremonies. The ceremony required permission from the U.S. Navy and the National Park Service, and the fact that it could be realized this year, the grand sixtieth year since Daisosho started his international activities to spread "Peacefulness through a bowl of tea" and in Hawaii inaugurated Urasenke's first chapter outside Japan, gave Urasenke cause for much thanksgiving.

Kamaki Kanahele leads Daisosho and other dignitaries in.

Representive Nisei WWII U.S. servicemen.Singing of the "Star Spangled Banner."

Pearl Harbor survivors Alfred Rodriguez, Sterling Cale, and Ray Emory attend as special guests.

         The ceremony began with Kamaki Kanahele leading Daisosho and other dignitaries in as he sang a Hawaiian chant. A U.S. sailor sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," and next, Hawaii recording artist Raiatea HELM sang "Hawaii Pono‘i." Once everyone was seated, Jean ARIYOSHI introduced the special guests, and then read a congratulatory message from Hawaii Senator Daniel K. INOUYE sent from Washington D.C. There were speeches by Hawaii Governor Neil ABERCROMBIE, Commander of the Pacific Fleet Admiral Patrick M. WALSH, National Park Service Pacific West Regional Director Christine S. LEHNERTZ, and Consul General Yoshihiko KAMO of Japan. Gov. Abercrombie began by saying, "It is appropriate that we are here together in Hawaii . . . where in the years following World War II, the people of Japan and the United States have built so many bridges of peace. Dr. Sen came to Hawaii in 1951, sixty years ago, himself a bridge of peace." Said Admiral Walsh in his speech, "Through this sacred ceremony on this hallowed setting, we honor the sacrifices of an extraordinary generation, which made possible the gift of peace to generations that followed." He furthermore said, "The symbolism of this morning's ceremony is rich -- a sacred ritual that embodies the essence of Japanese culture and tradition -- held in the final resting place of those fallen at Pearl Harbor and conducted by an ambassador of peace who contributed so much to the healing process between our two nations. Thank you, Dr. Sen, for enriching the lives of so many around the world and honoring their sacrifice." The third speaker, Director Lehnertz of the National Park Service, said about the USS Arizona Memorial, which was dedicated in 1962, that its late architect hoped that "it would mark a new beginning of understanding so that . . . Americans and Japanese could meet here in peace to remember a time of war."

(L) Hawaii Governor Abercrombie. (M) Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Walsh. (R) Nat'l. Park Service Regional Director Lehnertz.

Consul General Kamo of Japan at the podium.

Daisosho SEN Genshitsu, seated at the tenchaban, conducts the sacred tea making.

Daisosho carries the prepared tea to the shrine room.

After setting the koicha on the offering table in the shrine room, Daisosho bows deeply.

Daisosho places the second bowl of tea, usucha, in the shrine.

         Following the speeches, Daisosho proceeded to the tenchaban (tea-making table) that had been set up in the center of the main hall, and one at a time prepared a sacred bowl of koicha (thick tea), and a sacred bowl of usucha (thin tea). Having prepared the koicha, for which he employed a pure white fukusa (square of silk cloth) to purify the implements, he carried it to the memorial's shrine room, where the names of crew members who went down with the USS Arizona are chiseled into the wall. Placing the bowl on a wooden offering table, with his hands held together he bowed deeply before the names in a sign of respect. For the usucha, which was as an offering in prayer for world peace, he employed a purple fukusa. He similarly placed this bowl of tea on the offering table, held his hands together, and bowed deeply.

(L) Daisosho speaks to the attendees and expresses his thanks. (R) Daisosho leads everyone in a prayer for world peace.

         Returning to the main hall, Daisosho was then invited to say a few words to the assembled guests. He said that, in all the eighty-eight years of his life, no ceremony has made as deep an impression on him personally as the one today. After his speech, he went and stood before the shrine room and, with his hands held together, said a prayer, and the attendees were invited to join with him in their own prayer for world peace.

During the playing of the taps.

         At the end, there was the playing of the Japanese taps by a member of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force and then the U.S. taps by a U.S. sailor.
         Finally, like he had led them in at the beginning, Kamaki Kanahele, singing a Hawaiian chant, led Daisosho SEN Genshitsu and other dignitaries out, bringing the historic service to a close.