Reviews - What do customers think about Rediscovering Rikyu: And the Beginnings of the Japanese Tea Ceremony (Global Oriental)?
Morning Glories and Liminal Tea Aug 18, 2005
This is a delightful and scholarly work that examines the history and cultural significance of tea in Japan. It is a book of stories about great tea-masters and focuses on the most famous and influential of them, Rikyu.
Here is a particularly striking story.
One of Rikyu's guest knew that Morning Glories grew on the hedge in tea-master's garden. Wishing to see these flowers opening in the morning sun, he came to the tea party early but was dismayed to find that all of the flowers had been cut down. However, on entering the tea hut he found that Rikyu had placed a single Morning Glory in a simple bamboo vase in the alcove. He was transfixed by the beauty of the solitary flower and by the realization that Rikyu had deliberately shifted the focus away from the massed flowers of the hedgerow to this isolated specimen. Such were the delicate considerations and expression of the tea-master, and such were the considerations of the society within which he lived.
"Rediscovering Rikyu" offers the reader an engaging insight into an unfamiliar world, a world redolent with Zen metaphysics, jealous and feuding warlords, anguish and ritualistic suicide, the aesthetics of preparing tea, and the transformational beauty of the Morning Glory. It is distanced world, and Herbert Plutschow is a knowledgeable and scholarly guide.
But the book is more than history. It examines tea as a way of approaching, attaining, and sustaining liminality within a Japan that was in a period of ongoing conflict. Plutschow carefully and skillfully examines the deep-core symbolism and tranformative possibilities within the delicate art form or tea.
This is a delightful, readable, and interesting book that provides an unexpected and welcome insight not simply into a different culture but into our own cultures and contemporary preoccupations.
Very Impressed Nov 19, 2003
I love this book! The author has researched and presented the subject well. It has put so much of the Tea Ceremony in perspective for me that I am grateful!
It is good to see an objective view, questioning histories coming from sources which rely on information from the Iemoto schools themselves. In the development of most Iemoto systems a loosely based and often fictious history is created, what the Chinese called "Leaning on the Ancients." However, these histories don't usually withstand the test of time and academic scrutiny. This is one of those wonderful books that sheds light on the subject, and allows us to see something of the real history.