Tea and friendship in Oji

March 06, 2013

Saturday morning was especially chilly in Wazuka, but it was well worth getting up early for our first encounter with the Nara Chapter of Friendship Force International in Oji. Founded by Jimmy Carter in 1977, Friendship Force International is an international network of clubs working to connect people and strengthen friendships between individuals and communities all over the world. Participating in the Nara Chapter’s 7th anniversary celebration, I was particularly moved by how well this goal is being achieved thirty seven years later.

At Obubu, we were all delighted to discover first hand that Japanese green tea pairs well with all different types of food from all over the world. This discovery was possible because, like any great meeting among many friends, the main feature of Saturday’s Friendship Force event centered around trying and learning about different foods. Slowly circling tables, I sampled foods from Russia, Korea, China, Japan, France and Mexico while meeting new friends and learning how to prepare all the different dishes. My personal favorites were the Korean Shijimi and the Japanese style pizza, but the senior intern, T.J., couldn’t get enough of the Hiroshima style takoyaki — and I can’t blame him.

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With everyone’s appetites satisfied, we enjoyed musical performances from club members, and Obubu served tea to everyone gathered at the event. All told, this included over 70 people from 10 countries!

Watching everyone enjoy a cup of tea, I was reminded of how closely friendship and tea are related. Whether it be the Japanese tea ceremony or casual afternoon tea, drinking tea is an important time for friends and relaxation. People are being continually brought together through tea, whether by drinking tea or making new discoveries in the world of tea. Although Japanese green tea produced by Obubu may be unique, the values and friendship represented in Japanese green tea can be found all over the world. The spirit of tea, to borrow tea master Sen Gishu’s philosophy, can be found everywhere, and is certainly reflected in Jimmy Carter’s vision for Friendship Force International.

The day left us all tired out, but happy for having the chance to serve our tea to a new group of people, and to make new friends. Personally, I truly hope Obubu gets to participate in many of these kinds of events in the future, especially in new places all over the world.

Obubu Intern Neil
Original post: http://obubutea.com/4911/tea-and-friendship-in-oji

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