Edited by Anna Popper

On 15 December 2023 the Commendation Ceremony of the Japanese Foreign Minister was held at the Ambassador’s Residence, where Ms. Kornélia Rajzó-Kontor, President of the Urasenke Tankokai Hungary Association, received the prestigious award.

The solemn event was attended by a large audience consisting of family members, friends and supporters of the awardee, as well as Hungarian officials, including Dr. Zoltán Südy, former Ambassador of Hungary to Japan. Representatives from the Urasenke Tankokai Hungary Association and the Hungary-Japan Friendship Society were present at the award ceremony, which took place in a friendly atmosphere.

Kornélia began her journey with the art of tea in 1998 and eventually became the leader of the Urasenke Tankokai Hungary Association. She has worked tirelessly throughout Hungary to introduce the tea ceremony, promote and teach the spirit of the Way of Tea, and has made outstanding efforts for many years to contribute to the spread of Japanese culture in Hungary. Her understanding of the Way of Tea is phenomenal and her determination as a leader in Hungary is beyond words. Moreover, outstanding efforts have been made to strengthen the friendship between Japan and the international community. In recognition of all these endeavours and contributions, she was honoured with the Commendation of the Japanese Foreign Minister.

In his speech, H.E. Masato Otaka, Ambassador of Japan to Hungary praised Ms. Kornélia Rajzó-Kontor for her persistent and dedicated work in introducing Japanese culture to Hungary with the following words:

“Ms. Kornélia Rajzó-Kontor, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for joining us in the Conferment Ceremony of the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation for Ms. Kornélia Rajzó-Kontor, President of the Urasenke Tankokai Hungary Association. It is my great pleasure to present Ms. Kornélia with this award today for her achievements.

The Foreign Minister’s Commendation is conferred to outstanding individuals for their contributions to promoting friendship between Japan and other countries. The Commendation also aims to promote the understanding of the recipients’ activities and to express our gratitude to the recipients and their supporters.

Ms. Kornélia received the commendation for her great contribution to promoting Japanese culture in Hungary. As you all know, she started learning the Japanese tea ceremony in 1998. Since the mid-2000s, she has been actively supporting the activities of the Urasenke Tankokai Hungary Associationas a supervisor. And in 2023 she officially became president of the association. Through various tea ceremony trainings, demonstrations and lectures, she has contributed significantly to the promotion of friendship and goodwill between Japan and Hungary.

In fact, I have been fortunate to work with her on a number of cultural events since my arrival in this country. This year alone, Kornélia participated in the Budapest Japan Day program in June, the Japanese Garden Day in Szentendre in August, the Hamamatsu Week program in Veszprém in October, and so on. I would like to express my sincere gratitude once again for her efforts in promoting Japanese Tea Ceremony Culture and in strengthening artistic and spiritual ties between Japan and Hungary. On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, I would like to congratulate her on receiving the commendation.

In closing, I’d like to wish everyone here continued success and good health. I wish that our nations continue to cultivate mutual respect and friendship. Thank you.”

The Certificate of the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation was handed over to Ms. Kornélia Rajzó-Kontor by H.E. Masato Otaka, Ambassador of Japan to Hungary.

This award is not only an individual acknowledgment, but also a recognition of the collective efforts of a community that has been advocating and supporting the spread of Japanese culture in Hungary for many years.

Kornélia’s family and supporters participated at the ceremony and in her speech she reminded the attendees how much her cultural activities are supported by the people around her, who are committed to promoting and teaching tea culture. In her emotional acceptance speech, the awardee expressed that the Way of Tea has been integrated into her life as a unique part of the great Japanese culture and ancient traditions, which she practices and teaches with passion and devotion. Receiving the Commendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs was a tremendous honour and she emphasized that it was equally gratifying to have the support of so many wonderful people on the journey that led to this award. She conveyed immense respect and gratitude, expressing deep thanks for the trust, support and recognition of His Excellency, Ambassador of Japan, and for gracing the participants with some of the most cherished moments of her life.

The Commendation Ceremony was graced by the presence of Ms. Urszula Mach-Bryson, a guest from Poland, President of the Urasenke Tankokai Warsaw Sunshin Association, (known by her tea name Sōu 宗 宇). She is a lecturer at the Department of Japanese Studies at the University of Warsaw, heads the Urasenke Sunshinkai and acts as a mentor to Kornélia. Ms. Mach-Bryson also delivered her laudatory speech during the ceremony, emphasizing the commendable qualities of the awardee. She fondly reminisced about their enduring friendship and supportive fellowship that dates back to their time studying together in Japan and continues to persist between her and the awardee.

The ceremony was followed by a reception, featuring a selection of Japanese delicacies.

Source: Embassy of Japan in Budapest

Photos by the Embassy of Japan and DPA