Spiritual tea as Duke begins tour of Japan

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The Duke of Cambridge has experienced a simple but spiritual Japanese tea ceremony to mark his arrival in the country.

William who is making his first trip to Japan, was served tea by a grandmaster who has performed the ritual for his parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and the Queen.

The second-in-line to the throne was taken to a centuries-old Tokyo teahouse and seated at a small table where he received the green tea, said to have life-prolonging properties.

The ceremony was performed in private with William joined by dignitaries including the governor of Tokyo, Yoichi Masnzoe.

The teahouse was built more than 350 years ago in Japan’s Edo period and is a traditional single-storey wooden building of white paper walls and mat flooring.

Genshitsu Sen, whose ancestor laid down the philosophical ideas of chado, or Way of Tea, performed the spiritual ceremony aimed at refining the self as students seek the principles of harmony, respect, purity and tranquillity.

Dr Sen made the “thin tea” or usucha with powdered green tea.

The media were allowed in to see the final moments and William drank from an antique Korean bowl cupped in both hands, at one point joking to his host: “I don’t want to drop it.”

William, who had removed his shoes like the other guests, spent around 40 minutes at the Nakajima tea house in the middle of a small lake within the Hama-Rikyu gardens.

Dr Sen, 92, who is the 15th generation of his family to hold a senior role in the spiritual art of tea making, said: of the Prince: “He seemed very at ease and he seemed to be a very straight, honest and kind young man.”

Kensington Palace yesterday confirmed the Duke had completed the last of his exams to earn his air transport pilot licence and would start work as an East Anglian Air Ambulance pilot in the summer.