[Fellow Interview]Nessim Cohen about the practice of tea ceremony in AYF

Posted on November 10, 2018 by Awaji Youth Federation | Awaji, Culture, Interview
I view the practice of tea ceremony as training in aesthetic sense, spirituality and discipline. It can be seen as a way toward understanding the way of Japanese beauty, Zen meditation or even the art of managing one’s self and others.

  • Category: #Interview #Awaji #Culture
  • Interview date: Oct 1st , 2018
  • Writer: Kamil Orbisso


For more than three years, I have studied the Japanese tea ceremony. When I had the honor of being selected to join AYF, I immediately thought about how I should share my experiences with other fellows. An incredible surprise awaited me on Awaji – our home and facility, Manabi no Sato, was equipped with its own tea room and tea garden ! Unfortunately, the place appeared to have been left almost entirely unused for years. As a tea practitioner, I felt that It was my duty to take care of such an important cultural space. I was fortunate enough to gain support in creating a team of individuals who were ready to aid me in the restoration of our tea room. In return, I wanted to give back and introduce to my peers the philosophy and art of practicing tea ceremony. By the end of the project, our team was able to reach two objectives : to study the tea ceremony together and repair Mujuan, our tea room.

Restoring the tea room and garden was a manageable but challenging task for all of us. During the process, I found myself facing a difficult question : what knowledge can I pass on to others? I surely cannot consider myself to be a Tea Master, but as a foreigner, I possessed a strength that allowed me to more easily transmit the art of tea to non-Japanese people. From my own experience, I knew that the Japanese Tea ceremony contains something truly universal: a deep respect towards all things and a call for slowness and quietness. What I wanted to convey to my peers was how tea taught me to pay attention to details and consider the task at hand with an intense focus.


I view the practice of tea ceremony as training in aesthetic sense, spirituality and discipline. It can be seen as a way toward understanding the way of Japanese beauty, Zen meditation or even the art of managing one’s self and others.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the best way to help others understand the way of tea was an individual approach, and I attempted to mentor each person individually based on what they wanted to learn from the Japanese tea ceremony. Finally, near the end of the year and after enough training, I asked each member to conceptualize his/her own tea ceremony: he or she would be responsible for establishing the theme, items and guests for the session. It was a fascinating experience, having the privilege of witnessing everyone’s unique expression of themselves through the practice of tea ceremony.


I sincerely hope that the next generation of AYF will continue to pursue studying the art of tea ceremony. In the middle of an international crossroads, it is my pleasure to know that AYF fellows have a unique opportunity to get introduced to this piece of traditional Japanese culture and learn about its core philosophy. Having such a beautiful tea room and garden immediately next door is an open window into discovering the deepest parts of the Japanese poetical mind. But tea is also, as described by tea master Gilles Maucout, the way in which daimyo learned about management. So, that is also why today, I believe that practicing tea ceremony holds the potential to serve as a cradle for AYF and future global leaders.

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