This “Peace Is…” event was in support of the STI Forum, which Japan and Mexico will co-chair, and consisted of a tea ceremony for peace and innovation under the theme “Peace Is… Coexistence.” It was co-hosted by the Permanent Missions of Mexico, Kenya, Austria, Finland, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Canada, Costa Rica, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Poland, Brazil, and Indonesia.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Koro Bessho stated that he hoped guests would be able to experience the coexistence of tradition and innovation through “ZEN-An”. He also expressed that by learning about the efforts a private company such as ITO EN has put into implement the SDGs, he hoped that guests could further understand the SDGs and in turn, feel closer to the United Nations.
During the event, Mai Fujisawa was accompanied by the UN Chamber Music Society of the UNSRC and sang a few songs, including “Reprise” from Spirited Away. As she performed, Kuniji Tsubaki assembled the suitcase tea room “ZEN-An”. After “ZEN-An” was fully assembled, Tate Performer Kyo Kasumi took off her sword before entering the tea room to take a short rest, imitating the way samurai could not enter a tea house without leaving their swords outside, as a symbol of peace.
Following the performance, Shoko Aono of Ippodo Gallery NY spoke about how “ZEN-AN” represents the coexistence of a number of different Japanese craftsmanship techniques. Throughout the past 10 years, she has continued to believe in the power of beauty while carrying out her work of curating the ever-evolving styles of traditional Japanese tea bowls (chawan) in New York City, a place where diverse cultures are individually emphasized, yet coexist with each other. Additionally, Vice President of ITO EN North America Rona Tison discussed the many varieties of tea, noting that though the names of teas vary based on the level of oxidation and method of steaming, all varieties originate from a single plant—the Camellia sinensis. She went on to state that like tea, people vary based on race, religion, belief, etc., but we are all human beings, and all people coexist as individual parts of our shared humanity.
UN Ambassadors attending the event then participated in a sencha and matcha tea-making session, after which other guests of the event were also able to learn how to make matcha and perform the tea ceremony. They were also able to enter the “ZEN-An” suitcase tea room, among many other interactive elements of the event, allowing for guests to learn about peace and innovation through tea.
Among the attendees of the event were Head of UN DPI Alison Smale, Acting Director for Strategic Communications of DPI Nanette Braun (MC), and the Ambassadors of the fourteen co-hosting countries, Vietnam, and Colombia.
Photo Credit: Tokio Kuniyoshi