Genshitsu SEN in Finland for Centennial of Finnish-Japanese
Diplomatic Relations and Two Other Special Commemorations
Helsinki Cathedral

Daisosho Genshitsu SEN made a visit to Helsinki, Finland, from October 10 to 13, 2019, to take part in events commemorating the centennial of Finnish-Japanese diplomatic relations, the 40th anniversary of the Kansai Japan-Finland Society, of which he is President, and the 30th anniversary of the Urasenke Tankokai Finland Association.

His official itinerary in Helsinki began the morning of October 11, with the courtesy call which he paid to 1st Deputy Speaker Tuula HAATAINEN of the Finnish Parliament, at the Parliament House, accompanied by Ambassador Takashi MURATA of the Embassy of Japan in Finland. It was a very amiable meeting, and, during it, Daisosho was happy to prepare matcha tea for the 1st Deputy Speaker as they conversed about Japan and Finland's interesting similarities, and other topics.

Photos by Hanne Salonen/Finnish Parliament

A chado program to commemorate the centennial of Finnish-Japanese diplomatic relations took place from 11:00 A.M. that day, at Alexander Theatre. (Co-sponsors: Urasenke, Kansai Japan-Finland Society, Embassy of Japan in Finland. Cooperation: Urasenke Tankokai Finland Association.) The approximately 250 attendees included foreign ambassadors and other members of the diplomatic corps in Finland who were invited as special guests, as well as Kansai Finland-Japan Society members, Urasenke Tankokai members from Finland as well as neighboring associations, and a number of Urasenke Midorikai Alumni Association members.
          Following an opening address by the Urasenke Tankokai Finland Association's Honorary President, Jouni ELOMAA, Daisosho and Ambassador Murata, representing the sponsoring organizations, presented welcoming speeches, and then, representing the special invited guests, Finland's Minister of Science and Culture, Hanna KOSONEN, presented a speech.

Daisosho Genshitsu SENMinister Hanna KOSONEN

Ambassador Takashi MURATA

The national anthems of both countries were sung, and then Daisosho commenced upon conducting a tea dedication ceremony (kencha-shiki), in which he solemnly prepared a bowl of tea in prayer for the further friendship between Finland and Japan, and for World Peace.

Six special guests then took seats on the stage, to share in a bowl of koicha (matcha of thick consistency) prepared by Daisosho as a means of deepening their sense of unity and amity. This constituted the "Wago no Chakai" section of the program.

The participants in the Wago no Chakai (L to R):
    Japanese Ambassador, Takashi MURATA
    Finnish Minister of Science and Culture, Hanna KOSONEN
    Finnish Parliament Member, Mats LÖFSTRÖM
    Finland Japanese Association President, Norio TOMIDA
    Finnish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment Permanent Secretary, Jari GUSTAFFSON
    Finland Japanese Association Vice-President, Eriko ANDO

Following an intermission, Daisosho delivered a lecture about "The Peace which a bowl of tea can bring." In it, he explained that there are rules or "ways" (michi/do) for everything in this world, that the "way of tea" (chado) was one such "way," and that it teaches the value of humbly feeling gratitude for a bowl of tea, and of showing kind consideration toward others. "If the spirit of the way of tea were understood and could be conveyed to people worldwide, there would be no more war." Daisosho expressed his deep desire for mankind’s peaceful coexistence in these terms.
           A demonstration of a simple chado gathering was then performed, with Daisosho providing the explanations. The audience appeared to be deeply absorbed in this, and had many questions to ask during the final Q & A period.

Daisosho delivers lectureDemonstration

For the lively Q & A period, Tankokai Finland Association Honorary President Jouni ELOMAA steps forward to translate

In a separate area at the Alexander Theatre, members of the Urasenke Tankokai Finland Association and neighboring Tankokai associations, as well as Midorikai Alumni Association members from far and wide, provided tea service to the program attendees.

After the program at Alexander Theatre, Daisosho went with Ambassador Murata for an interview with Finland's Prime Minister, Antti RINNE, at the Government Palace. During the meeting, their conversation touched upon the culture of Finland and the social and cultural exchanges taking place between Finland and Japan.

R: The three pose for a commemorative photo

October 12 (Sat) was the day for the events commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Kansai Japan-Finland Society and 30th anniversary of the Urasenke Tankokai Finland Association. The events consisted in a commemorative tea gathering held at two locations on the World Heritage site of Suomenlinna Island, and a luncheon in Helsinki.
     The Kansai Japan-Finland Society (President: Genshitsu SEN), was established in 1979, to promote cultural and economic exchange, and international goodwill, between Japan and Finland. It has contributed to the friendship enjoyed between the two countries by sending cultural exchange mission groups to each other's countries, and, per an agreement with the Finnish Ministry of Culture, by participating in a program for sponsoring cultural and academic exchange students. Through the incentive of Daisosho, exchange students from Finland have annually been accepted into the Midorikai study program at Urasenke Headquarters, Kyoto. The Urasenke Tankokai Finland Association, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, had its start with such exchange students who had studied in the Midorikai program. In 2004, construction of the tea room named "Tokuyuan" was completed on the World Heritage fortress island of Suomenlinna, and it has served as a center for the practice of chado and other Japanese cultural pursuits in Finland.

Commemorative Tea Gathering
The Urasenke Tankokai Finland Association were the hosts at the Tokuyuan tea room, which is their main practice center. Members of the Midorikai Alumni Association came together from around the world to host tea at another facility at the Suomenlinna island fortress.

The Tokuyuan Tea Venue of the Urasenke Tankokai Finland Association
The Tokuyuan alcove

The moist confections prepared by the Tankokai Finland Association members were named "Minori" (Coming to Fruit)

The Tea Venue of the Midorikai Alumni Association Members

Commemorative Luncheon
The luncheon participants took the ferry back from Suomenlinna to Helsinki, for the commemorative luncheon. For this event, the Kansai Japan-Finland Society's Secretary-General, Fumiyasu SAKATA, served as MC, and the special invited guests included Commandant Juhapekka RAUTAVA of the Naval Academy of Finland, with his wife. Altogether, there were approximately one hundred participants. Smiling faces and great happiness pervaded the atmosphere.

Daisosho with the special guests Daisosho surrounded by chado followers