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The Book of Tea: With 14 Illustrations and 7 Free Online Audio Files.

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The Book of Tea is a long essay connecting the role of tea (teaism) to the artistic and cultural aspects of Japanese life. Nothing is as quintessentially Japanese as the tea ceremony – or – "the way of tea." Teaism is founded on the love of the beautiful among the distasteful facts of everyday existence. It is the worship of the imperfect – trying to accomplish something The Book of Tea is a long essay connecting the role of tea (teaism) to the artistic and cultural aspects of Japanese life. Nothing is as quintessentially Japanese as the tea ceremony – or – "the way of tea." Teaism is founded on the love of the beautiful among the distasteful facts of everyday existence. It is the worship of the imperfect – trying to accomplish something possible in this impossible dance we call life. Created for a western audience, it was originally written in English and is classed as one of the great English tea classics. Okakura Kakuzō was schooled in English and was proficient at communicating his thoughts to the Western mind. In this book, he discusses such topics as Zen and Taoism, but also the material aspects of tea and Japanese life. The book emphasizes how Teaism taught the Japanese many things; most importantly, simplicity. Kakuzō argues that this tea-induced simplicity affected culture, literature, cuisine, clothing, and art. The book is written in a very poetic and philosophical way, and has some quite surprising facts. Did you know that at one time onions were added to tea? Also, at one point, tea-drinking was considered to be an occupation of depraved people. Highlights of this edition are: • 14 illustrations. • 7 free online audio files. • It is formatted for ease of use and enjoyment on your kindle reader. • An active (easy to use) Table of Contents listing every chapter accessible from the kindle "go to" feature. • Perfect formatting in rich text compatible with Kindle's Text-to-Speech features. • Plus a short About the Author section. • 101 pages in the kindle format. Chapters include: 1. The Cup of Humanity 2. The Schools of Tea 3. Taoism and Zennism 4. The Tea-Room 5. Art Appreciation 6. Flowers 7. Tea-Masters This book is unabridged, and appears as it was first intended. First published in 1902.


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The Book of Tea is a long essay connecting the role of tea (teaism) to the artistic and cultural aspects of Japanese life. Nothing is as quintessentially Japanese as the tea ceremony – or – "the way of tea." Teaism is founded on the love of the beautiful among the distasteful facts of everyday existence. It is the worship of the imperfect – trying to accomplish something The Book of Tea is a long essay connecting the role of tea (teaism) to the artistic and cultural aspects of Japanese life. Nothing is as quintessentially Japanese as the tea ceremony – or – "the way of tea." Teaism is founded on the love of the beautiful among the distasteful facts of everyday existence. It is the worship of the imperfect – trying to accomplish something possible in this impossible dance we call life. Created for a western audience, it was originally written in English and is classed as one of the great English tea classics. Okakura Kakuzō was schooled in English and was proficient at communicating his thoughts to the Western mind. In this book, he discusses such topics as Zen and Taoism, but also the material aspects of tea and Japanese life. The book emphasizes how Teaism taught the Japanese many things; most importantly, simplicity. Kakuzō argues that this tea-induced simplicity affected culture, literature, cuisine, clothing, and art. The book is written in a very poetic and philosophical way, and has some quite surprising facts. Did you know that at one time onions were added to tea? Also, at one point, tea-drinking was considered to be an occupation of depraved people. Highlights of this edition are: • 14 illustrations. • 7 free online audio files. • It is formatted for ease of use and enjoyment on your kindle reader. • An active (easy to use) Table of Contents listing every chapter accessible from the kindle "go to" feature. • Perfect formatting in rich text compatible with Kindle's Text-to-Speech features. • Plus a short About the Author section. • 101 pages in the kindle format. Chapters include: 1. The Cup of Humanity 2. The Schools of Tea 3. Taoism and Zennism 4. The Tea-Room 5. Art Appreciation 6. Flowers 7. Tea-Masters This book is unabridged, and appears as it was first intended. First published in 1902.

30 review for The Book of Tea: With 14 Illustrations and 7 Free Online Audio Files.

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paquita Maria Sanchez

    Just a few things: * If you find yourself moving 13 times across 4 cities in 3 states over a period of less than 3 years, you'll notice that your bedroom looks more and more like a Japanese tea room each time. * Monzaemon Chikamatsu is referred to in this text as the "Japanese Shakespeare." Will I be seeking this man's work out as soon as possible? Damn right! Pfft...don't threaten me with a good time. * "We have an old saying in Japan that a woman cannot love a man who is truly vain, for there is Just a few things: * If you find yourself moving 13 times across 4 cities in 3 states over a period of less than 3 years, you'll notice that your bedroom looks more and more like a Japanese tea room each time. * Monzaemon Chikamatsu is referred to in this text as the "Japanese Shakespeare." Will I be seeking this man's work out as soon as possible? Damn right! Pfft...don't threaten me with a good time. * "We have an old saying in Japan that a woman cannot love a man who is truly vain, for there is no crevice in his heart for love to enter and fill up. In art vanity is equally fatal to sympathetic feeling, whether on the part of the artist or the public." Where does this philosophy of art and ego leave someone like, say, Salvador Dali or James Brown? Yes, I just used those two names together for the same illustrative purpose. * You know that Churchill quote about being a liberal at twenty and a conservative at forty? Screw that quote. This one's better: "Man at ten is an animal, at twenty a lunatic, at thirty a failure, at forty a fraud, and at fifty a criminal." * This book is about art, architecture, philosophy, comparative Eastern spirituality, interior design (yep), meditation, simplicity, life, death, love, hate, desire, debauchery, flower gardening, Eastern/Western relations and perceptions, and, uh...what else? Oh yeah, tea. * Dear children of the world: "Tell me, gentle flowers, teardrops of the stars, standing in the garden, nodding your heads to the bees as they sing of the dews and sunbeams, are you aware of the fearful doom that awaits you? Dream on, sway and frolic while you may in the gentle breeze of summer. To-morrow a ruthless hand will close around your throats. You will be wrenched, torn asunder limb by limb, and borne away from your quiet homes. The wretch, she may be passing fair. She may say how lovely you are while her fingers are still moist with your blood...It may even be your lot to be confined in some narrow vessel with only stagnant water to quench the maddening thirst that warns of ebbing life." How lovely is that? * This is a beautiful and informative work. What else do ya need, huh?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sidharth Vardhan

    In the trembling grey of a spring dawn, when the birds were whispering in mysterious cadence among the trees, have you not felt that they were talking to their mates about the flowers?" Wow! "True beauty could be discovered only by one who mentally complete the incomplete.” Just wow! "Rikiu loved to quote an old poem which says: "To those who long only for flowers, fain would I show the full-blown spring which abides in the toiling buds of snow-covered hills." More wow! "The tea-master, In the trembling grey of a spring dawn, when the birds were whispering in mysterious cadence among the trees, have you not felt that they were talking to their mates about the flowers?" Wow! "True beauty could be discovered only by one who mentally complete the incomplete.” Just wow! "Rikiu loved to quote an old poem which says: "To those who long only for flowers, fain would I show the full-blown spring which abides in the toiling buds of snow-covered hills." More wow! "The tea-master, Kobori-Enshiu, himself a daimyo, has left to us these memorable words: "Approach a great painting as thou wouldst approach a great prince." In order to understand a masterpiece, you must lay yourself low before it and await with bated breath its least utterance." Wow ad infinitum! Proper review: "Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things." Beautiful writing all around. In terms of prose, it has to be the best Japanese book I have read. Okakura's purpose is to show west the depth of thought that is contained in simplicity of Eastern culture, Teaism in particular. Teaism is a culture/life style in Japan which values things like modesty, simplicity etc - in many ways very opposite of consumerism that plagues present day world. Besides general history of tea and Teaism, the author discusses a bunch of other subjects - such as need of a dialogue between West and East, religions (Taoism, Budhism, Jainism etc), flowers, poetry, translation, philosophy, art, aesthetics, architecture etc within a very short space and without ever discarding his beautiful prose. About Taoism: "The ancient sages never put their teachings in systematic form. They spoke in paradoxes, for they were afraid of uttering half-truths. They began by talking like fools and ended by making their hearers wise. Laotse himself, with his quaint humour, says, "If people of inferior intelligence hear of the Tao, they laugh immensely. It would not be the Tao unless they laughed at it." About Translations: "Translation is always a treason, and as a Ming author observes, can at its best be only the reverse side of a brocade- all the threads are there, but not the subtlety of colour or design.” Philosophy: "One day Soshi was walking on the bank of a river with a friend. 'How delightfully the fishes are enjoying themselves in the water!' exclaimed Soshi. His friend spake to him thus: 'You are not a fish; how do you know that the fishes are enjoying themselves?' 'You are not myself', returned Soshi; 'how do you know that I do not know that the fishes are enjoying themselves?'" Art criticism: An eminent Sung critic once made a charming confession. Said he: "In my young days I praised the master whose pictures I liked, but as my judgement matured I praised myself for liking what the masters had chosen to have me like." More quotes: "The primeval man in offering the first garland to his maiden thereby transcended the brute. He became human in thus rising above the crude necessities of nature. He entered the realm of art when he perceived the subtle use of the useless." "Man at ten is an animal, at twenty a lunatic, at thirty a failure, at forty a fraud, and at fifty a criminal." "Tell me, gentle flowers, teardrops of the stars, standing in the garden, nodding your heads to the bees as they sing of the dews and sunbeams, are you aware of the fearful doom that awaits you? Dream on, sway and frolic while you may in the gentle breeze of summer. To-morrow a ruthless hand will close around your throats. You will be wrenched, torn asunder limb by limb, and borne away from your quiet homes. The wretch, she may be passing fair. She may say how lovely you are while her fingers are still moist with your blood...It may even be your lot to be confined in some narrow vessel with only stagnant water to quench the maddening thirst that warns of ebbing life."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rowena

    This book was just wonderful. It discusses the history of teaism in Asia (mainly Japan but also China). It’s written in a very poetic and philosophical manner. Not only does the book talk about tea, it also talks about how tea has influenced Japanese culture, especially Japanese cuisine, clothing, literature and art. I learned some quite surprising facts. For example, onions were added to tea in some places, and tea-drinking was considered to be an occupation of depraved people! The book also goe This book was just wonderful. It discusses the history of teaism in Asia (mainly Japan but also China). It’s written in a very poetic and philosophical manner. Not only does the book talk about tea, it also talks about how tea has influenced Japanese culture, especially Japanese cuisine, clothing, literature and art. I learned some quite surprising facts. For example, onions were added to tea in some places, and tea-drinking was considered to be an occupation of depraved people! The book also goes into detail about the Japanese tea ceremony and how Japanese tea houses are built in a specific way for atmosphere. Everything is exact : the decor, the utensils, the clothing of the participants, the asymmetric nature, the seemingly fragile architecture...It’s quite amazing the amount of detail that goes into conducting a tea ceremony. There are also many myths and legends added anecdotally. Also, some information on Buddhism and Taoism and Confucianism was included, as well as poetry. As a lover of flowers, I enjoyed the ode to flowers. One of favourite quotes is "But I am not to be a polite Teaist. So much harm has been done already by the mutual misunderstanding of the New World and the Old, that one need not apologize for contributing his tithe to the furtherance of a better understanding." I wholeheartedly agree with this! Additionally, "we have developed along different lines, but there is no reason why one should not supplement the other." Hear, hear! Okakura is definitely very patriotic. ( Side note : one of my Japanese co-workers told me that Okakura was forced to commit seppuku (Samurai ritualistic suicide) as he was heavily involved in politics. ) On one hand, he bemoans how the West supposedly looks down on Japan and then he displays ethnocentric qualities himself, especially when he noted that Western homes have a "vulgar display of riches." Hmm.... That was my only gripe with this book. I will definitely be re-reading it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Henk

    Interesting musings on the importance of tea in Japanese society, if sometimes rather more elaborate on the then current state of affairs than on details of the ceremony itself Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others. In The Book of Tea, from 1906, the author follows the cultural impact of the beverage on the culture of Japan. From history, being a Chinese invention, moving from cakes of ground leaves, to be he Interesting musings on the importance of tea in Japanese society, if sometimes rather more elaborate on the then current state of affairs than on details of the ceremony itself Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others. In The Book of Tea, from 1906, the author follows the cultural impact of the beverage on the culture of Japan. From history, being a Chinese invention, moving from cakes of ground leaves, to be heated with ginger, lemon and even onion at first to what we now would call Matcha (powdered tea, curiously boiled with salt) towards the leaves we boil nowadays, there is a lot of interest. Still I would have liked a bit more on the actual mechanics, as opposed to the feel and idea behind the tea ceremony. The illustrations give you a feel, but I missed something nonetheless. The contrast between West and East, with the linkage to both Zen Buddhism and Taoism, is interesting. Also Shinto decreeing that houses exist for people and should be broken down after death of the dweller is a very interesting explanation for the wooden architecture and cyclical rebuilding of temples. We classify too much and enjoy too little the author says at the end, before a section on Ikebana that feels almost The Little Prince like in feel, and I feel he is right despite that I find this brief book more admirable than loveable. Still a very interesting cultural document and ideal for a read with some nice cups of sencha.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

    Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things. 4.5/5 The last time I felt what this book conjured up in me, I was in Medieval Art, transcribing the parts of cathedrals in relation to aspects of religion, art, and space. Approaching the choir on high through the humbling nave, raising the e Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things. 4.5/5 The last time I felt what this book conjured up in me, I was in Medieval Art, transcribing the parts of cathedrals in relation to aspects of religion, art, and space. Approaching the choir on high through the humbling nave, raising the eyes up to regard icons and murals as the voices lifts up in Kýrie, eléison, the intersection of westeast aisle and northsouth transept ensuring that should the images not be there, you will still be embodied in the Stations of the Cross. I've forgotten most of the terminology, but the essence is still there: that contextual crossroads where seemingly disparate pieces of your life come together, granting you a glimpse of all the myriad backbones of history converging onto a single point, nothing more than a moment and an insight and you. I may have much more of the Occidental than Oriental in the marrow of my bones, but the little I've picked up of the Japanese culture so far was enough to set the appreciative tone regarding this particular work. It is a peculiar one in the way of Memórias póstumas de Brás Cubas, the writing in no way implying the publication date of 1905 and a position betwixt the earlier House of Mirth and the later White Fang. The title is also misleading, or rather the tricky type that lures your assumptions in and laughs as they run. This is indeed a book of tea, but tea in terms of history, in terms of movements both religious and aesthetic, in terms of a life of culture entire in the word chanoyu, the way of tea grounded in the fundamentals of philosophy, art, and the lifeline of Japan. Those of the so called West, be prepared to bear for once the scrutinizing eye, and with patient thoughtfulness you will be guaranteed to learn. However, with every facing off between Japan and the all too encroaching powers of the author's day, there is a bevy of insightful knowledge and beauteous states of mind, ranging from discussion of the architecture of tea-rooms to essays on the meaning of flowers in relation to the tea ceremony and all manner of schools in between, all of which concern themselves as heavily with thought as they do with tea. Taoism and Zennism are here, both explained and expanded upon from China to Japan until finally, Teaism itself develops. For such a small packet of papers, this book packs quite the punch. The whole ideal of Teaism is a result of this Zen conception of greatness in the smallest incidents of life. Taoism furnished the basis for aesthetic ideals, Zennism made them practical. If I said much more, I would have to delve into summary, so I will leave it to you readers to discover this small, yet potent, piece of literature. Chances are you will never look at anything the same way again, and will simply have to mull a while in order to regain your bearings. Over a cup of tea, perhaps? For a moment [cherry blossoms] hover like bejeweled clouds and dance above the crystal streams; then, as they sail away on the laughing waters they seem to say: "Farewell, O Spring! We are on to Eternity."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    This book is about so much more than tea. This is about how something as seemingly simple as a beverage can define a culture’s history, philosophy and aesthetics. When it was originally published in 1906, the East was just opening to the West, and they had few cultural bridges to use to form bonds and begin to understand each other. But both hemispheres shared a love of tea, and a certain ritualization of its consumption. Through the history of the preparation of tea, and how the beverage travel This book is about so much more than tea. This is about how something as seemingly simple as a beverage can define a culture’s history, philosophy and aesthetics. When it was originally published in 1906, the East was just opening to the West, and they had few cultural bridges to use to form bonds and begin to understand each other. But both hemispheres shared a love of tea, and a certain ritualization of its consumption. Through the history of the preparation of tea, and how the beverage travelled all over the world, Okakura sought to explain his culture to Westerners and dispel their misunderstandings about the East in general, and Japan, in particular. The spiritual aspect of the tea ceremony truly is about an appreciation of beauty, in its smallest details, and it’s a way to create a moment of peaceful serenity that has an almost meditative quality. Okakura ties the links between the tea ceremony and Zen practice and Taoist philosophy, and shows that the beverage has influenced every aspect of his culture in the most subtle yet remarkable ways. Okakura’s writing is beautiful, and I can only assume his words were chosen with as much care as he devotes to detailed information he lovingly packaged in this small book. I have been discovering Japanese writers over the last couple of years, and something about the ethereal beauty of their writing, even translated, leaves me breathless (he describes a bowl of matcha as the "froth of the liquid jade"). To be read slowly over a bowl of matcha, or while nibbling on cucumber sandwiches washed down with the very best Earl Grey.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Interesting little book regarding the importance and influence of tea. Tea is a part of the Japanese culture, rather than just a drink, but we forget the import it has also had for the Western world. Okakura points out that it was tea that first opened the doors between East and West, and that the heavy duties on tea prompted the American Revolution. Beyond the historical importance of tea is the philosophical and cultural importance of tea, and the discussion here of Taoism and Zennism was fasc Interesting little book regarding the importance and influence of tea. Tea is a part of the Japanese culture, rather than just a drink, but we forget the import it has also had for the Western world. Okakura points out that it was tea that first opened the doors between East and West, and that the heavy duties on tea prompted the American Revolution. Beyond the historical importance of tea is the philosophical and cultural importance of tea, and the discussion here of Taoism and Zennism was fascinating. Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others. I enjoyed listening to Mike Rosenlof's reading, which surprised me, as I am still not a fan of audiobooks.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Lee

    Welcome to the elegance of tea-ism. Weaving beauty with simplicity, I have much to learn from Japanese culture. Everything they do is done with such precision. I first fell in love with tea ceremony as a child watching "Alice and Wonder Land", then my love was evoked again in high school when I read "Memoirs of A Geisha" by Arthur Golden. (It's still my favorite book of all time, to this date!) I then found other books on reading tea leaves and using herbs to heal from Chronic Lyme Disease natura Welcome to the elegance of tea-ism. Weaving beauty with simplicity, I have much to learn from Japanese culture. Everything they do is done with such precision. I first fell in love with tea ceremony as a child watching "Alice and Wonder Land", then my love was evoked again in high school when I read "Memoirs of A Geisha" by Arthur Golden. (It's still my favorite book of all time, to this date!) I then found other books on reading tea leaves and using herbs to heal from Chronic Lyme Disease naturally, so ya, you could say I'm INTO tea. In my herbalist certification class, we were told to "sip tea as if it were life itself." And I have ever since. It's similar to the yogic thought process use what you've learned on the mat and live it off the mat, extending it out onto the rest of your life. Same, same but different. I should mention that this title has NO RECIPES in it. It is more about Eastern (Japanese) culture, a history of tea, explanations of elegance and simplicity within tea ceremony, merging yin and yang, and getting the West and East to understand one another. Not only did I find the tea tools lost throughout ancient history to be most fascinating, but the part on Flower Masters was not something I was expecting to be included. It was an added grace of decadence and a free feng shui lesson! (Another topic of interest to me.) A few of my favorite quotes from the text: "Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage." "Tea was Taoism in disguise." "Matcha- froth of the liquid jade." I am thankful to the community of volunteers who published these works after the author's passing. I've added many of his other titles to my list! For other snippets I found interesting, you can see my highlights and notes on Goodreads. I highlighted close to 50-some passages. I downloaded this e-book while it was free on Amazon. I was under no obligation to write a review, my honest opinion is freely given. #AmazonAffiliate I have added the hardback to my Amazon shop: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0804800693?... OR you can see if the e-book is still free, available for download. Happy reading! See the top books I've enjoyed @ www.amazon.com/shop/itsblee1234

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    That ending. Wow.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Matt Riddle

    The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzō Too little tea, we learn, was a Japanese expression used in reference to a person too busy to stop and smell the roses. Too much tea, then, refers to a person so busy smelling the roses he has little time for much else. In my humble estimation, Mr. Okakura had a little too much tea in him. The Book of Tea makes a number of interesting points. I agree with its author that we Occidentals tend to downplay the Orient’s contributions to such fields as philosophy, relig The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzō Too little tea, we learn, was a Japanese expression used in reference to a person too busy to stop and smell the roses. Too much tea, then, refers to a person so busy smelling the roses he has little time for much else. In my humble estimation, Mr. Okakura had a little too much tea in him. The Book of Tea makes a number of interesting points. I agree with its author that we Occidentals tend to downplay the Orient’s contributions to such fields as philosophy, religion, art, music, etc. -- although I would guess that’s probably a lot less true today than when the book was published in 1906. I also agree with the author’s contention that Hesperian displays of art and culture tend toward ‘promiscuity’ and could do well to take lessons from the East’s more minimalist traditions. Okakura loses me, however, when he tries to make of Teaism a religion -- specifically, Taoism in disguise. I have no quarrel with the cultivation of refined aesthetic sensibilities, but I consider such cultivation to be an accomplishment rather than a virtue. This might seem like splitting hairs, but I believe it’s a very important distinction. For me, cultivating refined sensibilities is something akin to working very hard to learn to swim a mean 100M backstroke. Kudos to you if you’ve done it, but it you haven’t it’s a lack of accomplishment on your part rather than a moral or ethical failing. Okakura’s would-be marriage of refined aesthetic sensibilities with virtue reminds me very much of the Russian concept poshlost. We have no good English translation of poshlost is because it combines characteristics which our English-speaking tradition does not [thank goodness!:] necessarily combine: ethical or spiritual bankruptcy with common lack of taste. Even my main man Anton Pavlovich -- who in The Cherry Orchard pokes great fun at the concept -- falls victim to it in Three Sisters. Natasha’s wearing of colors which clash is undeniable evidence of her poshlost and a dead giveaway that by the end of the play she will become the shameless adulteress and household tyrant she does. How many of you believe that a failure to recognize which colors clash represents an unambiguous signal of turpitude? I consider myself to have great taste in literature and rather plebeian taste in food and drink. Much as I might like sometimes to pretend to the contrary, I don’t actually believe that my enjoyment of Gogol’ or Twain makes me the moral superior of some other sad schmuck enjoying his Grisham or Crichton or Louis L’Amour. Nor do I believe the tea master’s appreciation of his briskly whisked goodness renders him my spiritual superior as I enjoy my skim milk and peanut butter sandwich. P.S. It has been kindly brought to my attention that I've neglected to mention Okakura's offer of the tea master's gentle, contemplative Taoist perspective as a native Japanese alternative to the stern, imperialistic Shinto perspective gathering steam in Japan at the time The Book of Tea was written. That's an inexcusable oversight on my part, especially given that I've read The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang. Okakura's meditative appeal against the strident militarization of his homeland's culture is eerily foreboding of the atrocities shortly to come in his countrymen's near future. I would heartily recommend that anyone with an interest in modern Asian history read The Book of Tea and The Rape of Nanking back to back.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    It is easy to understand why Joseph Campbell, the much-loved professor of mythology and literature, included this book on his students’ required reading list. It is a profound little masterpiece that sheds light on complex ideas using simple explanations and examples, like Campbell did. Kakuzo Okakura lived primarily in Japan but travelled widely and wrote in English. He is attempting to provide a kind of bridge between East and West, and with these essays that explore the historical, spiritual a It is easy to understand why Joseph Campbell, the much-loved professor of mythology and literature, included this book on his students’ required reading list. It is a profound little masterpiece that sheds light on complex ideas using simple explanations and examples, like Campbell did. Kakuzo Okakura lived primarily in Japan but travelled widely and wrote in English. He is attempting to provide a kind of bridge between East and West, and with these essays that explore the historical, spiritual and cultural aspects of tea drinking, I believe he succeeds. “With Luwuh in the middle of the eight century we have our first apostle of tea. He was born in an age when Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism were seeking mutual synthesis. The pantheistic symbolism of the time was urging one to mirror the Universal in the Particular. Luwuh, a poet, saw in the Tea service the same harmony and order which reigned through all things.” The universal in the particular. This book expands on that idea, explaining how an appreciation of art, and flowers, and tea, can help us understand how to live. “Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.”

  12. 4 out of 5

    Florencia

    Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things. Jan 19, 20

  13. 5 out of 5

    Steven Walle

    This was a very good book on the history of tea and it's importance in the eastern cultures. Tea started out as a medicine and grew itself into a beverage. The book also speaks of the religion of Japan of Teaism. I recommend this book to all. Enjoy and Be Blessed. Diamond This was a very good book on the history of tea and it's importance in the eastern cultures. Tea started out as a medicine and grew itself into a beverage. The book also speaks of the religion of Japan of Teaism. I recommend this book to all. Enjoy and Be Blessed. Diamond

  14. 5 out of 5

    John_Dishwasher John_Dishwasher

    An enchanting encounter with Far Eastern sensibilities. Okakura doesn’t describe tea so much as use its cultural importance to elucidate for Westerners the life perspectives and aesthetics of Japan and China. But also you see here the interconnectedness of all human culture. Invasions, trade, immigration, art, mysticism all have informed the evolution of Tea, and the Tea-masters, and the Tea ceremony. I knew nothing of these things so this book was an inspiring journey. Through this apparently s An enchanting encounter with Far Eastern sensibilities. Okakura doesn’t describe tea so much as use its cultural importance to elucidate for Westerners the life perspectives and aesthetics of Japan and China. But also you see here the interconnectedness of all human culture. Invasions, trade, immigration, art, mysticism all have informed the evolution of Tea, and the Tea-masters, and the Tea ceremony. I knew nothing of these things so this book was an inspiring journey. Through this apparently simple beverage Okakura gave me a truly meaningful primer on another lifeview, and threw light on my own.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    A really fascinating little collection of essays, dealing with Japanese culture at the turn of the twentieth-century, especially the tea ceremony and the culture and philosophy that springs from it. I found this really interesting and readable, although possibly more enjoyable if you have vague background knowledge of Japanese and Chinese history and schools of philosophy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kirstine

    “Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.” It’s not a book about tea, in the sense that it’s not about how to drink your tea, what sorts you can get and what fancy properties they have and “Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.” It’s not a book about tea, in the sense that it’s not about how to drink your tea, what sorts you can get and what fancy properties they have and should you put milk in it or not. However, it does explain why this golden beverage might hold such sway over us, even today: “There is a subtle charm in the taste of tea which makes it irresistible and capable of idealisation. Western humourists were not slow to mingle the fragrance of their thought with its aroma. It has not the arrogance of wine, the self- consciousness of coffee, nor the simpering innocence of cocoa.” Having been written in 1906 you’d think it’d be a bit dated, but it could just as well have been written today. What Okakura has to say about art, philosophy, nature, and the gap between Eastern and Western civilizations, and how to bridge it, is as relevant and as spot on today as it was a hundred years ago. It’s a bit scary really, but goes to show, perhaps, how delicate a thing it is to understand a different culture, and how delicate and slow you have to go in order not to ruin it. He simply does it all by talking about tea, and how it can help you understand all these things. A few teasers on some of the things he has to say about art; “We must remember, however, that art is of value only to the extent that it speaks to us. It might be a universal language if we ourselves were universal in our sympathies. Our finite nature, the power of tradition and conventionality, as well as our hereditary instincts, restrict the scope of our capacity for artistic enjoyment. Our very individuality establishes in one sense a limit to our understanding; and our aesthetic personality seeks its own affinities in the creations of the past. It is true that with cultivation our sense of art appreciation broadens, and we become able to enjoy many hitherto unrecognised expressions of beauty. But, after all, we see only our own image in the universe,—our particular idiosyncracies dictate the mode of our perceptions. The tea- masters collected only objects which fell strictly within the measure of their individual appreciation.” human nature, our culture and nature itself; “Scratch the sheepskin and the wolf within us will soon show his teeth. It has been said that a man at ten is an animal, at twenty a lunatic, at thirty a failure, at forty a fraud, and at fifty a criminal. Perhaps he becomes a criminal because he has never ceased to be an animal. Nothing is real to us but hunger, nothing sacred except our own desires. Shrine after shrine has crumbled before our eyes; but one altar is forever preserved, that whereon we burn incense to the supreme idol,—ourselves. Our god is great, and money is his Prophet! We devastate nature in order to make sacrifice to him. We boast that we have conquered Matter and forget that it is Matter that has enslaved us. What atrocities do we not perpetrate in the name of culture and refinement!” philosophy; “The usefulness of a water pitcher dwelt in the emptiness where water might be put, not in the form of the pitcher or the material of which it was made. Vacuum is all potent because all containing. In vacuum alone motion becomes possible. One who could make of himself a vacuum into which others might freely enter would become master of all situations. The whole can always dominate the part.” and so on, and so on. It is on the whole a very enlightening read on many subjects, all of them centered around tea and its many abilities. “The Philosophy of Tea is not mere aestheticism in the ordinary acceptance of the term, for it expresses conjointly with ethics and religion our whole point of view about man and nature. It is hygiene, for it enforces cleanliness; it is economics, for it shows comfort in simplicity rather than in the complex and costly; it is moral geometry, inasmuch as it defines our sense of proportion to the universe.” So if you want to know about the history of tea, the cultural significance it had and still has, and the philosophy that surrounds it and that it’s cultivated through the ages, then this is what you need to read. Even if you are an avid coffee drinker and would never dare look upon a cup of tea, then you will learn a thing or two from this.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Banzai

    Okakura Kakuzo writes that he is "not a polite teaist." This is true. In the Book of Tea, he more or less shames the world, in particular his own countrymen, for subscribing to Western aesthetics. He also makes it clear how he feels about said aesthetics and the junk art coming out of the cluttered, cheap and materialistic culture of 19th century Europe and America. That said, I didn't like this book because I'm a self-deprecating whitey. I liked this book first and foremost because it's pretty! Okakura Kakuzo writes that he is "not a polite teaist." This is true. In the Book of Tea, he more or less shames the world, in particular his own countrymen, for subscribing to Western aesthetics. He also makes it clear how he feels about said aesthetics and the junk art coming out of the cluttered, cheap and materialistic culture of 19th century Europe and America. That said, I didn't like this book because I'm a self-deprecating whitey. I liked this book first and foremost because it's pretty! I might have been ashamed to list that as my number one appeal, but after reading the book I'm quite proud. As far as books go, this one is the perfect size, looking lovely on my bedside table whether open, closed, or in the romantic cardboard sleeve it came in. Second, for the inky portrait of Okakura Kakuzo in the front. He's looking off to the distance, lifting a cigarette to his jaw like some Confucian Marlboro man. The portrait says in eight thousand ways what an introduction couldn't about the opium-induced ire I'm about to launch into. Third, (because any aestheticist does things in threes or fives) for passages such as these, where he is so irritated at the violent, soul-less populace for leaving the minimalist ritual of his romanticized East, he forgoes talking to the reader entirely and chooses to address the flowers instead: "Tell me, gentle flowers, teardrops of the stars, standing in the garden, nodding your heads to the bees as they sing of the dews and the sunbeams, are you aware of the fearful doom that awaits you?" In all seriousness, the book is an important historical record of a time when many of Asia's ancient art and treasures were in danger of being lost forever due to being considered "unfashionable." Kakuzo and a band of artists and intelligistas from several countries formed the Kanga-kai to preserve Japanese art technique and tradition. And yes, you do learn about tea. Take it from me and don't try to wrap your brain around dates and key figures in Asiatic history. Choose, instead, to transcend the words and embrace the lyrical nature of the lesson intended.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence...It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life. While I don't drink tea, I do like classics and I do like learning about Japan. I enjoyed this little book. It was easy to read and there were some lovely thoughts hidden within. Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves ar Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence...It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life. While I don't drink tea, I do like classics and I do like learning about Japan. I enjoyed this little book. It was easy to read and there were some lovely thoughts hidden within. Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others. I appreciated his thoughts on the West and East. When will the West understand, or try to understand, the East? We Asiatics are often appalled by the curious web of facts and fancies which has been woven concerning us...Our insight does not penetrate your culture deeply, but at least we are willing to learn. So much harm has been done already by the mutual misunderstanding of the New World and the Old, that one need not apologise for contributing his tithe to the furtherance of a better understanding...We have developed along different lines, but there is no reason why one should not supplement the other. I thought Okakura had a beautiful way of writing thoughts. I found many of his passages deeply moving. For Teaism is the art of concealing beauty that you may discover it, of suggesting what you dare not reveal. It is the noble secret of laughing at yourself, calmly yet thoroughly, and is thus humour itself,--the smile of philosophy. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things. For life is an expression, our unconscious actions the constant betrayal of our innermost thought. He also has a subtle sense of humor. The East and the West, like two dragons tossed in a sea of ferment, in vain strive to regain the jewel of life. We need a Niuka again to repair the grand devastation; we await the great Avatar. Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. How can one be serious with the world when the world itself is so ridiculous! I liked his ideas about art. He talked about how we often slavishly admire the past while disregarding the greatness of the present. Sometimes things are considered "art" simply because they are "old." Slavish conformity to traditions and formulas fetters the expression of individuality in architecture. At the magic touch of the beautiful the secret chords of our being are awakened, we vibrate and thrill in response to its call. We must remember, however, that art is of value only to the extent that it speaks to us. It might be a universal language if we ourselves were universal in our sympathies. (one of my favorite quotes - it reminded me of Oscar Wilde) In this democratic age of ours men clamour for what is popularly considered the best, regardless of their feelings...They want the costly, not the refined; the fashionable, not the beautiful...The name of the artist is more important to them than the quality of the work...As a Chinese critic complained many centuries ago, "People criticise a picture by their ear." He spoke a lot about perception. Our perception in the tearoom and beyond. Our very individuality establishes in one sense a limit to our understanding; But, after all, we see only our own image in the universe,--our particular idiosyncracies dictate the mode of our perceptions. Shrine after shrine has crumbled before our eyes; but one altar is forever preserved, that whereon we burn incense to the supreme idol,--ourselves. There was a short section about flowers. I really liked his thoughts on how we use flowers in life and what they represent. In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends. We eat, drink, sing, dance, and flirt with them. We wed and christen with flowers. We dare not die without them. The man of the pot is far more humane than he of the scissors. Sorry, this review is mostly just quotes from the book. I didn't really have any profound insights while reading, I mostly just enjoyed the language. Those of us who know not the secret of properly regulating our own existence on this tumultuous sea of foolish troubles which we call life are constantly in a state of misery while vainly trying to appear happy and contented. We stagger in the attempt to keep our moral equilibrium, and see forerunners of the tempest in every cloud that floats on the horizon. Yet there is joy and beauty in the roll of billows as they sweep outward toward eternity. Why not enter into their spirit, or, like Liehtse, ride upon the hurricane itself? He only who has lived with the beautiful can die beautifully.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

    The Book of Tea was first published in 1906, and a quick read. Written in English, the author contrasts Japanese culture with Western attitudes mostly focussing on tea and the rituals associated with the tea ceremony. A history of tea is given from its origins in China and the book also talks about architecture, art, flowers and religious thought including Taoism and Zen. This is a beautiful edition, nicely illustrated.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Smiley

    First published in 1906, this classic work written in English having only seven short chapters is something rare and essential to those interested in Japanese culture. It is rare because few Japanese writers have written in English, even Natsume Soseki who studied in England in 1901-1903 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natsume_...) wrote most of his stories and novels in Japanese. Moreover, it is essential since reading this book would broaden our understanding on how and why tea in Japan has long First published in 1906, this classic work written in English having only seven short chapters is something rare and essential to those interested in Japanese culture. It is rare because few Japanese writers have written in English, even Natsume Soseki who studied in England in 1901-1903 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natsume_...) wrote most of his stories and novels in Japanese. Moreover, it is essential since reading this book would broaden our understanding on how and why tea in Japan has long been appreciatively admired, consumed and treasured. When I read Chapter 1 The Cup of Humanity (8 pages), Mr Okakura has impressively amazed me as a well-read writer due to his writing scope concerning Dr Samuel Johnson, the great lexicographer, whose tea consumption was legendarily recorded. A reason is that I know his tea addiction from reading his monumental biography by James Boswell, therefore, it is my delight to read this section: Samuel Johnson draws his own portrait as ‘a hardened and shameless tea-drinker, who for twenty years diluted his meals with only the infusion of the fascinating plant; who with tea amused the evening, with tea solaced the midnight, and with tea welcomed the morning.’ (p. 15) Historically, this extract would inform us on this amazing drink preferably hot, it seems to me: The tea plant, a native of southern China, was known from very early times to Chinese botany and medicine. It is alluded to in the classics under the various names of Tou, Tseh, Chung, Kha, and Ming, and was highly prized for possessing the virtues of relieving fatigue, delighting the soul, strengthening the will, and repairing the eyesight. ... The Taoists claimed it as an important ingredient of the elixir of mortality. The Buddhists used it extensively to prevent drowsiness during their long hours of meditation. (p. 22) And what would you do with some tea itself nearby after reading this revelation? … It was of such a beverage that Lotung, a Tang poet, wrote: ‘The first cup moistens my lips and throat, the second cup breaks my loneliness, the third cup searches my barren entrail but to find therein some five thousand volumes of odd ideographs. The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration, -- all the wrong of life passes away through my pores. At the fifth cup I am purified; the sixth cup calls me to the realms of immortals. The seventh cup – ah, but I could take no more! I only feel the breath of cool wind that rises in my sleeves. Where is Horaisan? Let me ride on this sweet breeze and waft away thither.’ (p. 25)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anne ✨ Finds Joy

    (3.5) Written in 1095 by a Japenese philospher, exploring the history of tea in the east, the Japanese relationship with tea, and comparisons to the notions of tea in western culture. The book is philosophical in tone, covers not just tea, but a bit of history, culture, and religion. There is beautiful writing and thoughtful passages to be savored slowly, while sipping your tea of course 🍵 There are three stages of boiling: the first boil is when the little bubbles like the eye of fishes swim (3.5) Written in 1095 by a Japenese philospher, exploring the history of tea in the east, the Japanese relationship with tea, and comparisons to the notions of tea in western culture. The book is philosophical in tone, covers not just tea, but a bit of history, culture, and religion. There is beautiful writing and thoughtful passages to be savored slowly, while sipping your tea of course 🍵 There are three stages of boiling: the first boil is when the little bubbles like the eye of fishes swim on the surface; the second boil is when the bubbles are like crystal beads rolling in a fountain; the third boil is when the billows surge wildly in the kettle. The Cake-tea is roasted before the fire until it becomes soft like a baby's arm.... O nectar! - 8th century Tang dynasty poet Luwuh, in 'The Holy Scripture of Tea' One of my favorite chapters was the one not on tea, but on 🌷 flowers! Okakura writes poignantly of his feelings of disdain for the wanton waste among western communities with the number of flowers cut daily to adorn ballrooms, banquet tables etc. 🌸🌹🌻 Tell me, gentle flowers, teardrops of the stars, standing in the garden, nodding your heads to the bees as they sing of the dews and the sunbeams, are you aware of the fearful doom that awaits you?...Tomorrow a ruthless hand will close around your throats. You will be wrenched, torn asunder limb by limb, and borne away from your quiet homes. 💐🥀🌼 Audio/book notes: I listened to this first on audio, but I felt like I wasn't absorbing the words as deeply as I wanted, so I re-read the physical book, and that was definitely the preferred experience, taking my time, re-reading passages, and enjoying the pictures too.

  22. 4 out of 5

    André

    “Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.” Published in 1906, Teaism is a stunning essay that focuses on the cultural aspects of Japanese life. Beautifully written, this long essay deals w “Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.” Published in 1906, Teaism is a stunning essay that focuses on the cultural aspects of Japanese life. Beautifully written, this long essay deals with various subjects, such as Philosophy, Arts, Architecture and Nature. Throughout the book, it is also explained the ideal preparation of the tea, as well as the typical tea routine for a balanced lifestyle. "The whole ideal of Teaism is a result of this Zen conception of greatness in the smallest incidents of life. Taoism furnished the basis for aesthetic ideals, Zennism made them practical." Teaism also has interesting perspectives about the tea room. The tea room must be simplistic in style and with no decoration. As a result of that, the viewer will be able to imagine his surroundings the way he wishes. Nature is also one of the aspects depicted in the book. Teaism is intrinsically linked to the vivid features of Nature; Flowers, trees and gardens are prominent elements for a better relationship between humanity and the Planet Earth. "Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things." Okakura slightly criticises some western customs. Nonetheless, in my Utopian realm, Bacchus and the Queen of chamomile coexist in a perfect symbiosis. Perhaps the world would be a more peaceful place if we were all drinking tea and smoking a joint, in complete harmony. “Perfection is everywhere if we only choose to recognise it.”

  23. 4 out of 5

    Antonomasia

    This is an exquisite little cultural history of Japan centred around the tea ceremony and a philosophy of "teaism" which includes elements of Zen and Taoism. It's also a work of art and design philosophy which especially falls into place on realising it was written in the wake of the Western aesthetic movement of the late nineteenth century. (The Book of Tea was first published in 1906.) The Japanese perspective described here seems to unite, or else trace a middle way between, the opposition of This is an exquisite little cultural history of Japan centred around the tea ceremony and a philosophy of "teaism" which includes elements of Zen and Taoism. It's also a work of art and design philosophy which especially falls into place on realising it was written in the wake of the Western aesthetic movement of the late nineteenth century. (The Book of Tea was first published in 1906.) The Japanese perspective described here seems to unite, or else trace a middle way between, the opposition of "artificial" and "natural": nature is here preferred and described as such, but it is a vision of nature honed by human intervention: coloured autumn leaves scattered on a swept path; a single perfect flower in a vase. This was written at a time when the West still knew little about Japanese culture but the author (a Japanese scholar who emigrated to Boston and wrote in English) points out that one aspect had taken hold: a less formal adaptation of the tea ceremony. I had almost forgotten the idea, but the preparation and role of tea does retain a ritualistic aspect even in mundane contexts. Unless perhaps it's from, as Douglas Adams described, "a machine which provide[s] a plastic cup filled with a liquid... almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea" - and even then, there is some (im)patient waiting to be done. I've ended up with a Project Gutenberg version of the book via a cheap Kindle purchase. This lovely little work deserves better, although academic editions - with the introduction and notes from which it must benefit - don't seem to be easy to find here. Now, one with the background material and illustrations would be just gorgeous.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lubinka Dimitrova

    Well... I suppose, some books will speak to you, and some won't but in this particular case the author's cringe-worthy comments regarding the Occident's weltanschauung put me off from the very beginning. There were some mildly interesting passages later on, but all in all, this book was not exactly my cup of tea. Too much philosophical and/or poetic digressions, too little information on tea itself. Still searching for a readable book about tea. Well... I suppose, some books will speak to you, and some won't but in this particular case the author's cringe-worthy comments regarding the Occident's weltanschauung put me off from the very beginning. There were some mildly interesting passages later on, but all in all, this book was not exactly my cup of tea. Too much philosophical and/or poetic digressions, too little information on tea itself. Still searching for a readable book about tea.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Terris

    Beautiful!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Vaishali

    Not a book about tea, which is misleading and fosters distrust toward the author. Instead, Okakura spends more time describing the nuances of Japanese culture to the western reader - sometimes disdainfully. Got bored with his preaching and was relieved when it ended. Quotes : -------- “The Philosophy of Tea is not mere aestheticism… It is hygiene, for it enforces cleanliness; it is economics, for it shows comfort in simplicity rather than in the complex and costly…” “…When we consider how small afte Not a book about tea, which is misleading and fosters distrust toward the author. Instead, Okakura spends more time describing the nuances of Japanese culture to the western reader - sometimes disdainfully. Got bored with his preaching and was relieved when it ended. Quotes : -------- “The Philosophy of Tea is not mere aestheticism… It is hygiene, for it enforces cleanliness; it is economics, for it shows comfort in simplicity rather than in the complex and costly…” “…When we consider how small after all the cup of human enjoyment is, how soon overflowed with tears, how easily drained to the dregs in our quenchless thirst for infinity, we shall not blame ourselves for making so much of the tea-cup..." “The average Westerner, in his sleek complacency, will see in the tea ceremony but another instance of the 1,001 oddities which constitute the quaintness and childishness of the East… Indian spirituality has been derided as ignorance, Chinese sobriety as stupidity, Japanese patriotism as the result of fatalism.” “The Christian missionary goes to impart, but not to receive…” “Your information is based on the meagre translations of our immense literature…" “The white man has scoffed at our religion and our morals, but has accepted the brown beverage without hesitation.” "The heaven of modern humanity is indeed shattered in the Cyclopean struggle for wealth and power. The world is groping in the shadow of egotism and vulgarity." “Heretics like Henry Saville (1678) denounced drinking it as a filthy custom. Jonas Hanway (Essay on Tea, 1756) said that men seemed to lose their stature and comeliness, women their beauty through the use of tea.” “The coffee-houses of London in the early half of the eighteenth century became, in fact, tea-houses…” “There is a subtle charm in the taste of tea... It has not the arrogance of wine, the self-consciousness of coffee, nor the simpering innocence of cocoa.” “Samuel Johnson draws his own portrait as 'a hardened and shameless tea drinker'…” “Tea is a work of art and needs a master hand to bring out its noblest qualities. We have good and bad tea, as we have good and bad paintings — generally the latter.” “... Life is an expression, our unconscious actions the constant betrayal of our innermost thought. Confucius said that 'man hideth not.' Perhaps we reveal ourselves too much in small things because we have so little of the great to conceal.” "Its evolution may be roughly divided into three main stages: the Boiled Tea, the Whipped Tea, and the Steeped Tea. We moderns belong to the last school." “The Cake-tea which was boiled, the Powdered-tea which was whipped, the Leaf-tea which was steeped, mark the distinct emotional impulses of the Tang, the Sung, and the Ming dynasties of China.” “The Buddhists used it extensively to prevent drowsiness during their long hours of meditation.” “By the 4th and 5th centuries tea became a favourite beverage among the inhabitants of the Yangtse-Kiang valley....The leaves were steamed, crushed in a mortar, made into a cake, and boiled together with rice, ginger, salt, orange peel, spices, milk, and sometimes with onions!” "With Luwuh (Lu Yu) in the middle of the 8th century we have our first apostle of tea... In his celebrated work, the Chaking (The Holy Scripture of Tea) he formulated the Code of Tea. He has since been worshipped as the tutelary god of the Chinese tea merchants." "The Emperor Kiasung (1101-1124), who was too great an artist to be a well-behaved monarch, lavished his treasures on the attainment of rare species. He himself wrote a dissertation on the twenty kinds of tea..." "In 801, the monk Saicho brought back some seeds and planted them in Yeisan, [Japan]." "The beverage grew to be an excuse for the worship of purity and refinement..." "Laotse himself, with his quaint humour, says, 'If people of inferior intelligence hear of the Tao, they laugh immensely.' " “People are not taught to be really virtuous, but to behave properly.” “We must know the whole play in order to properly act our parts; the conception of totality must never be lost in that of the individual.” “Truth can be reached only through the comprehension of opposites.” “It held that in the great relation of things there was no distinction of small and great, an atom possessing equal possibilities with the universe.” “A good tea-room is more costly than an ordinary mansion, for the selection of its materials, as well as its workmanship, requires immense care and precision. Indeed, the carpenters employed by the tea-masters form a distinct and highly honoured class among artisans.” “The size of the orthodox tea-room, which is four mats and a half, or ten feet square, is determined by a passage in the Sutra of Vikramadytja.” “…If a samurai, will leave his sword on the rack beneath the eaves, the tea-room being preeminently the house of peace. Then he will bend low and creep into the room through a small door not more than three feet in height. This proceeding was incumbent on all guests, 'high and low alike' …” “Not a particle of dust will be found in the darkest corner, for if any exists the host is not a tea-master. One of the first requisites of a tea-master is the knowledge of how to sweep, clean, and wash, for there is an art in cleaning and dusting.” “The tea-room is made for the tea-master, not the tea-master for the tea-room. It is not intended for posterity and is therefore ephemeral.” “The idea that everyone should have a house of his own is based on an ancient custom… Shinto superstition ordaining that every dwelling should be evacuated on the death of its chief occupant. Perhaps there may have been some unrealized sanitary reason… Another early custom was that a newly built house should be provided for each couple that married. It is on account of such customs that we find the Imperial capitals so frequently removed from one site to another in ancient days.” “Uniformity of design was considered fatal to the freshness of imagination. Thus, landscapes, birds, and flowers became the favorite subjects for depiction rather than the human figure, the latter being present in the person of the beholder himself.” “In Western houses we are often confronted with what appears to us useless reiteration. We find it trying to talk to a man while his full-length portrait stares at us from behind his back. We wonder which is real, he of the picture or he who talks, and feel a curious conviction that one of them must be fraud.” “The simplicity of the tea-room and its freedom from vulgarity make it truly a sanctuary from the vexations of the outer world. There and there alone one can consecrate himself to undisturbed adoration of the beautiful.” “Nowadays industrialism is making true refinement more and more difficult all the world over. Do we not need the tea-room more than ever?” “We listen to the unspoken, we gaze upon the unseen. The master calls forth notes we know not of.” “The sympathetic communion of minds necessary for art appreciation must be based on mutual concession. The spectator must cultivate the proper attitude for receiving the message, as the artist must know how to impart it.” “We have an old saying in Japan that a woman cannot love a man who is truly vain, for their is no crevice in his heart for love to enter and fill up.” “… So much of the apparent enthusiasm for art at the present day has no foundation in real feeling. In this democratic age of ours men clamour for what is popularly considered the best, regardless of their feelings. They want the costly, not the refined; the fashionable, not the beautiful.” “We classify too much and enjoy too little.” “In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends. We eat, drink, sing, dance, and flirt with them. We wed and christen with flowers. We dare not die without them.” “Scratch the sheepskin and the wolf within us will soon show his teeth.” “Nothing is real to us but hunger, nothing sacred except our own desires. Shrine after shrine has crumbled before our eyes; but one altar is forever preserved, that whereon we burn incense to the supreme idol --ourselves. Our god is great, and money is his Prophet! We devastate nature in order to make sacrifice to him.” “Tell me, gentle flowers, teardrops of the stars, standing in the garden, nodding your heads to the bees as they sing of the dews and the sunbeams, are you aware of the fearful doom that awaits you?” “The number of flowers cut daily to adorn the ballrooms and banquet-tables of Europe and America, to be thrown away on the morrow, must be something enormous; if strung together they might garland a continent.” “In the West the display of flowers seems to be a part of the pageantry of wealth --the fancy of a moment. Whither do they all go, these flowers, when the revelry is over?” “Have you not noticed that the wild flowers are becoming scarcer every year? It may be that their wise men have told them to depart till man becomes more human. Perhaps they have migrated to heaven.” “Much may be said in favor of him who cultivates plants… We watch with delight his concern about water and sunshine, his feuds with parasites, his horror of frosts, his anxiety when the buds come slowly, his rapture when the leaves attain their lustre.” “Emperor Huensung, of the Tang Dynasty, hung tiny golden bells on the branches in his garden to keep off the birds. He it was who went off in the springtime with his court musicians to gladden the flowers with soft music.” “Why take the plants from their homes and ask them to bloom mid strange surroundings? Is it not like asking the birds to sing and mate cooped up in cages? Who knows but that the orchids feel stifled by the artificial heat in your conservatories and hopelessly long for a glimpse of their own Southern skies?” “When the flower fades, the master tenderly consigns it to the river or carefully buries it in the ground. Monuments are sometimes erected to their memory.” .

  27. 4 out of 5

    〰️Beth〰️

    I wish the book was longer This book is about more than tea. Philosophy, preserving culture, the nature of man and the role of “state”, spirituality, interior design, and floral arrangement. Beautiful writing and thought provoking. I can see why the author worked hard in his lifetime to preserve Japanese art and culture. You can also see why Joseph Campbell would make it required reading for his classes and how it may be reflected in some of his writing.

  28. 5 out of 5

    shanghao

    Delicate and profound A soliloquy on tea and its rituals, primarily the Japanese Zen style, by a scholar whose ardent favour and incisive commentary still shine through in today's modern context. Delicate and profound A soliloquy on tea and its rituals, primarily the Japanese Zen style, by a scholar whose ardent favour and incisive commentary still shine through in today's modern context.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cynda

    In late 19th and early 20th centuries Japan underwent modernization. Some wanted to keep or at least remember the traditions of culture, including tea culture. Kakuzō Okakura was in a unique position to write this argument for tea culture: He founded the Japanese Art Institution in Tokyo and later became a curator at the Boston Museum of Fine Art. The early part of this text reads as something of an apologia, A defense of tea culture. I recognize the defense because I too live on social lines an In late 19th and early 20th centuries Japan underwent modernization. Some wanted to keep or at least remember the traditions of culture, including tea culture. Kakuzō Okakura was in a unique position to write this argument for tea culture: He founded the Japanese Art Institution in Tokyo and later became a curator at the Boston Museum of Fine Art. The early part of this text reads as something of an apologia, A defense of tea culture. I recognize the defense because I too live on social lines and find that I must either protect myself from others or forgive others for their ignorance and then explain a bit of self and culture. Oh here we go again. Clearly Okakura does the same thing, presenting an apologia. He tells of how in school the Western teachers came to the school to have students hear a message but would not listen to responses, receive their own cultural education. So Okakura wrote an apologia to explain a fundamental aspect of Japanese culture for both those who wanted to remember a fading culture and those who wanted to be introduced to tea culture. I am pleased that we here in US--and other places too develop and deepen an understanding of how tea comforts and heals. I knew that traditional Japanese art--maybe particularly tapestry painting--is minimalist. I suspected the art was meant to be evocative. I am glad to have that idea comfirmed. Various other facts and factiods here to delight and incorporate into worldview.

  30. 5 out of 5

    sab ◡̈

    “in joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends.”

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