I was invited by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to run a tea ceremony workshop for them in London. It was as part of their tourism campaign to promote travel to Japan from Europe. Yes, finally, Japan is officially open again! The first female governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, also came to London as part of the campaign. I served her a cup of matcha tea during the session. She is one of the most successful and powerful female politicians in Japan, and some people think that she might be Japan’s first female Prime Minister too. It is a very tough job, especially in Japan, many older male politicians refuse to retire. As you might know, in the 16th century many high-ranking samurai practiced the tea ceremony. They might have been attracted to the tea ceremony’s calm and meditative approach, as their lives were very tough during the great war.
This was my first-time serving tea to a major politician. I have always thought that politicians should practice the tea ceremony, as this peaceful and mindful practice could help them in all sorts of difficult negotiations. I noticed that Yuriko Koike knows the proper manners for the tea ceremony. She was wearing a black jacket, which she told me was upcycled from a vintage kimono belonging to her mother. I hope my workshop will help introduce Japan, and our idea of beauty, philosophy, hospitality, and kindness to the guests invited by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Many of my customers work very tough jobs, some are paramedics or work in A&E, others are in finance and have high pressure and long hours. I suppose Yuriko Koike, the Governor of Tokyo, works very long hours too. Fighting with old, male, Japanese politicians sounds really exhausting. I would like to send some peaceful thought to all hard-working people – wherever you are, have a cup of tea which will bring you some relaxation and comfort.
Spring will come soon. Meanwhile I’ll leave you with the following haiku by Matsuo Basho:
A customer having arrived, his red horse
Stands shaking his head moist with dew.
Please visit Japan one day. Whoever you are, we welcome you.