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On Friday 11 October, Doctor Genshitsu Sen, the previous Grand Master of the Urasenke school of Japanese tea ceremony, held a ceremony for Deputy Speaker Tuula Haatainen at Parliament. The event was part of the centennial celebrations of the diplomatic relations between Finland and Japan.
In the event, the 96-year-old Grand Master made tea for the Deputy Speaker, offered some sweets and taught the Deputy Speaker to prepare tea using a bamboo whisk according to tradition. For the Japanese, a tea ceremony is centred around two or more people coming together in a moment of peace, harmony and mutual respect.
In her welcoming words, the Deputy Speaker mentioned that Finns are known as coffee drinkers but, upon hearing the Grand Master's age, stated that she would aim to increase her tea consumption in the future. Haatainen and the guest both agreed that Finnish and Japanese people often feel a sense of resemblance with each other.
Born in 1923, Genshitsu Sen directed the Urasenke school of tea ceremony for 38 years until his eldest son took over in 2002. He is a Doctor of Philosophy and Literature. He was appointed Japan-UN Goodwill Ambassador in 2005, as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 2012 and as Advisor to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan in 2017.