Sen Genshitsu

The Peacefulness of Tea

Today is a special day, even after 74 years.

I usually don’t repost somebody else’s post.  Today is an exception.  As a student of the Way of Tea, I think it most appropriate to simply share the message of what Genshitsu Sen, the former Grandmaster of Urasenke has been spreading in the last 74 years, as introduced in NHK World – Japan.

The Japanese “way of tea” dates back 500 years, and Genshitsu Sen is the previous head of the Urasenke tea tradition. He survived World War II, and believes tea can be a powerful force for peace.

The following are excerpts from our interview.

In December 1943, a group of us entered Japan’s naval air service. I had a portable tea box. I would carry it around with me. Everyone knew about it. And the guys would say, “Hey, Sen! Gimme some tea!” When we finished working on the planes, we’d still be in our uniforms, but we’d sit down cross-legged.

They were like the samurai of the Warring States period. And there I was, making tea for these warriors.

Then, in April 1945, I was in the Tokushima division of the air service. And the order finally came down, that all of us were being assigned to kamikaze units. Our training would begin the next day. We would assemble the very next day. I thought, “So it’s finally happening.”

When it happened, a fellow soldier said, “OK, Sen, I guess this is my final bowl of tea.” As he drank it, he said to me “Sen, if we make it through this, let me come to your teahouse and share a bowl of tea with you.” That memory is still with me after all these years. It was at that moment I realized we wouldn’t be coming back.

They all cried out for their mothers. A week later, the first group was sent out. All these guys who had cried out for their mothers. They weren’t coming back. The friend who had told me he would visit my teahouse, he didn’t come back alive.

In the end, I was actually transferred. And so I was saved. If I hadn’t been transferred, I would be at the bottom of the sea right now. It’s been 71 years since the end of the war. Every single day, with shame in my heart, I put my hands together in prayer for the friends I’ve lost.

I hear their voices up in heaven. They say, “Hey! You make sure I didn’t die in vain. You got that?” And that’s why I’m so determined! To tell the world that, with a bowl of tea, with Chado, we can prevent war, and bring peace. That’s what I have to do.

Source: (both text and photos) NHK World – Japan

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