Japanese tea ritual to be performed onboard USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor


A Japanese tea ceremony — expected to include two Pearl Harbor survivors, along with the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and the Japanese consul general in Honolulu — is set for tomorrow morning inside the USS Arizona Memorial.

The ancient ritual aims to honor Americans — 2,345 military personnel and 57 civilians — who lost their lives on Dec. 7, 1941 during the Japanese attack on the United States’ naval base at Pearl Harbor. As the 70th anniversary of the battle approaches, the ceremony’s organizers are calling it a reconciliatory gesture between the two countries, now longtime allies.

Dr. Genshitsu Sen, a grand tea master of the Urasenke School of Tea — the largest of the three schools of Japanese tea ceremony — will perform the ceremony, which involves meticulously mixing of hot water with green tea in a ceramic bowl, and offering the drink to the assembled guests. Sen, 88, served in the Japanese naval air force during World War II, is the 15th generation of his family to lead Urasenke, which dates to the 1600s, according to the Associated Press. The Urasenke School’s Hawaii chapter is marking its 60th anniversary this year.

In a press release issued by the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, the site’s superintendent, Paul DePrey said: “The USS Arizona Memorial is a special place of healing which represents our nation’s Pacific War history, from engagement to peace.  It is particularly significant that Dr. Sen will perform a tea ceremony at this sacred site, and our hope is that this event will further strengthen the friendship between our two countries.”

Among the guests slated to attend the tea ceremony are U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Patrick Walsh and Yoshihiko Kamo, the Japanese consul general in Honolulu.

The ceremony will not be open to the public. However, it will be documented with video and photos. During the ceremony — expected to get under way at 7:30 a.m. — the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center will remain open to the public, however regularly scheduled public tours to the USS Arizona Memorial will be suspended. Tours to the USS Arizona Memorial will resume at 9:45 a.m., with the last tour at 3:30 p.m.For additional information about the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, click here.

Categories: Culture, Oʻahu