Considering Japan is the largest foreign investor in Tennessee, it’s only fitting Consul-General Motohiko Kato kicked off the Sixth Annual Introduction to Asia Conference at UTC on Tuesday, February 25. Kato works to assist Japanese companies in the Volunteer state.  He also promotes cultural understanding between the United States and his home country.

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Motohiko Kato

During his address “Security through Peace: Postwar Japan’s Role in Fostering Global Peace and Prosperity,” Kato, who is based in Nashville, explained Japan’s 172 companies employ more than 41,000 people in Tennessee.

For those considering a career in engineering, Kato had a keen observation.

“It’s getting harder and harder to find engineers. If you visit Japanese facilities, you will see the big robots working. And you need engineers to fix those,” he said.

A traditional tea ceremony in Japan

After a day of informative speakers at the Asia Conference, the crowd at the UC Auditorium enjoyed learning about a traditional tea ceremony in Japan.  Asami Nakano and Tae Maruyama worked together to prepare and serve three guests on stage.

Nakano is The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Japan Outreach Initiative Coordinator (JOI). She visits Chattanooga area schools to promote the art and culture of her native country.  Murayama has been performing the Japanese tea ceremony since she was ten years old. She became an instructor of the ceremony in 1992 and a master in 2006.

Tea drinking ceremonies date back to the 16th century in Japan.  Historically, the host of a traditional tea ceremony was male, but in modern times more women carry out the duties of host.

A tea scoop and a whisk fashioned from bamboo are used to prepare the tea, while a silk cloth is used to handle the hot tea pot and clean utensils.  No music is played during the ceremony, natural sounds are preferred.

Nakano explained in the room where the ceremony occurs, guests crawl through an opening so that no person stands higher than another, all are equal.  Hands are washed in the tea garden before beginning.

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left to right: Tae Maruyama and Asami Nakano

There are four principles of the tea ceremony:

和(wa)- harmony—Nakano explained a guest should “open your mind and get along with the host and other guests.”

敬(kei)- respect—this includes thanking the host for making the tea and acknowledging the guest at your side.

清(sei)- purity—not only should you wash your hands, you should wash your mind and use this opportunity to slow down and refresh as you enjoy the presence of friends.

寂(jyaku)- tranquility—the tea ceremony is helpful in achieving a stable and well balanced life.

One of the guests at the UTC tea ceremony enjoyed learning this ancient practice.  Bengt Carlson, Experiential Learning Coordinator, confirmed that the green tea served was “pleasant to drink.”

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