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Ukrainian evacuee in Japan performs tea ceremony to show gratitude

A Ukrainian woman and her son, who have fled their home country following the Russian invasion, are seen at hotel Kaihinso Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture on July 3, 2022. (Mainichi/Kenetsu Inaba)

KAMAKURA, Kanagawa -- A Ukrainian woman and her son who have fled the war-torn country to this coastal Japanese city held a tea ceremony on July 3 for some 60 people to express their gratitude.

    The 47-year-old woman and her son, 13, came to Japan in early April after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with help from Masaru Nishikawa, 78, who used to teach her tea ceremony master when Nishikawa gave tea lessons in Russia and other locations. The mother and son have since been staying in Kamakura, south of Tokyo.

    The pair say since they have settled down in the city physically and also emotionally they decided to host a tea ceremony to say thank you to the local governments, supporters and people in the neighborhood. The woman served "koicha" thick tea and "usucha" thin tea while guests and others watched her tea performance at hotel Kaihinso Kamakura.

    She has recently started a job in the hotel industry. While she worries about her husband and other family members who remain in Ukraine, she expressed her determination to continue practicing Japanese tea which has served as a tie between her and Japan.

    Meanwhile, the teenage son started school at a local junior high school a month ago. He likes anime, including the popular series "Neon Genesis Evangelion" and says the shows have helped him learn Japanese. He also uses a translation app, and says he enjoys conversations with his classmates.

    Nishikawa expressed his empathy with Ukrainians, saying, "When I held a tea ceremony in Ukraine, Russian colleagues would come to help me out. What's happening right now is the opposite of a tea ceremony."

    (Japanese original by Kenetsu Inaba, Kamakura Local Bureau)

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