Item description for The Book of Tea (Stone Bridge Classics) by Kakuzo Okakura...
"A seminal guide to Asian life and thought. . . . Very highly recommended."-Midwest Book Review
The classic 1906 essay on tea drinking, its history, aesthetics, and deep connection to Japanese culture. Kakuzo Okakura felt "Teaism" could influence the world: "Tea with us becomes more than an idealisation of the form of drinking; it is a religion of the art of life."
Outline Review That a nation should construct one of its most resonant national ceremonies round a cup of tea will surely strike a chord of sympathy with at least some readers of this review. To many foreigners, nothing is so quintessentially Japanese as the tea ceremony--more properly, "the way of tea"--with its austerity, its extravagantly minimalist stylization, and its concentration of extreme subtleties of meaning into the simplest of actions. The Book of Tea is something of a curiosity: written in English by a Japanese scholar (and issued here in bilingual form), it was first published in 1906, in the wake of the naval victory over Russia with which Japan asserted its rapidly acquired status as a world-class military power. It was a peak moment of Westernization within Japan. Clearly, behind the publication was an agenda, or at least a mission to explain. Around its account of the ceremony, The Book of Tea folds an explication of the philosophy, first Taoist, later Zen Buddhist, that informs its oblique celebration of simplicity and directness--what Okakura calls, in a telling phrase, "moral geometry." And the ceremony itself? Its greatest practitioners have always been philosophers, but also artists, connoisseurs, collectors, gardeners, calligraphers, gourmets, flower arrangers. The greatest of them, Sen Rikyu, left a teasingly, maddeningly simple set of rules:
Make a delicious bowl of tea; lay the charcoal so that it heats the water; arrange the flowers as they are in the field; in summer suggest coolness; in winter, warmth; do everything ahead of time; prepare for rain; and give those with whom you find yourself every consideration.
A disciple remarked that this seemed elementary. Rikyu replied, "Then if you can host a tea gathering without deviating from any of the rules I have just stated, I will become your disciple." A Zen reply. Fascinating. --Robin Davidson, Amazon.co.uk
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 5.25" Height: 7.25" Weight: 0.25 lbs.
Release Date Apr 1, 2007
Publisher Stone Bridge Press
ISBN 1933330171 ISBN13 9781933330174
Availability 0 units.
More About Kakuzo Okakura
Kakuzo Okakura was born in 1862 in Yokohama, Japan. In 1890, Okakura was one of the principal founders of the first Japanese fine-arts academy, Tokyo Bijutsu Gakko (Tokyo School of Fine Arts) and a year later became the head, though he was later ousted from the school in an administrative struggle. Later, he also founded the (Japan Art Institute) with Hashimoto Gaho and Yokoyama Taikan. He was invited by William Sturgis Bigelow to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1904 and became the first head of the Asian art division in 1910. He died in 1913.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Book of Tea (Stone Bridge Classics)?
Japanese culture in a teacup Jul 2, 2008
A fascinating look at the cultural significance and spiritual--and sometimes political--influence of tea on Japanese culture. Short and easy to read. Recommended to anyone who celebrates tea as something so much more than a beverage.
Insight into Japanese Culture May 2, 2008
I purchased and read this book for a Japanese culture class in college. The book discusses various aspects of tea, ranging from its history to its preparation. It gives you a first hand account of how tea has an affect on Japanese culture. The author writes this book in a negative stance towards the west, which I believe will close a lot of western reader's minds. You have to make sure to keep an open mind when reading this book and take from it what you can.
The Tao of Tea Sep 5, 2006
Kakuzo Okakura (1862-1919) was born in a Japan that had seen Commodore Perry but had not yet renounced the Shogunate. By the end of his life he had seen the Great War and Japan's first imperialistic military adventures in Korea and Manchuria that would culminate in the tragedy of the Second World War.
The scion of Japanese aristocracy, Okakura chose to spend the latter half of his life as an expatriate living in Boston, Massachusetts, where he befriended the Brahmins of that city. THE BOOK OF TEA was written in this period, sometime in the nineteen-oh-ohs. Written for an American audience, it eloquently introduced the Boston bluebloods to an idealized vision of Japan, the Japan of cherry blossoms, kakemono, and Chanoyu, the Tea Ceremony.
Reading THE BOOK OF TEA, one realizes that Okakura was not "selling" Japan to the West. THE BOOK OF TEA does not engage in any lacquer-box hucksterism. Rather, THE BOOK OF TEA is his paean to and his lament for a Japan of the virtues that was all-too-rapidly being consumed by Occidentally-intoxicated militarists and industrialists. THE BOOK OF TEA was written to banish the soot-stained chrysanthemums of Okakura's deepest nightmares.
Although this reviewer came to THE BOOK OF TEA expecting a manual on the Tea Ceremony, this book is nowhere so vulgar as that. Yes, a manual on the highly stylized Chanoyu has its place, but it's place is nowhere without this book which penetrates to the heart and soul of the ceremony. This reviewer can honestly say that THE BOOK OF TEA provided him with comprehension, a deeper insight, and a first true appreciation for Japanese art forms, so different than the European.
In its simplicity and its elegance, the Tea Ceremony is a form of Zen practice. Every element, from the atmosphere of the tearoom (called in Japanese "The Abode of Fancy," a world unto itself), the selection of the flowers, the artwork, the bamboo tea implements, the bright, sharp jade green macha tea, and the specially made jangling teapot and ceramic cups, speaks to an aesthetic foreign to the West. Okakura calls it "Teaism," a play on Taoism, and its purpose is to delight the senses, touch the heart, and place the participant fully in the present moment.
Shambhala Publications has presented THE BOOK OF TEA in a fine paperbound edition, the colors, typeset, and dimensions of which please the mind. Shambhala has also provided color photographs, in truth forms of abstract art, of the tea implements in use, that add a visual dimension to this already fine book.
History, Philosophy, Poetry, and Religion - All In A Cup Of Tea Sep 5, 2006
This book was written around 1900, it seems, for those upper class ladies and gentlemen who delight in tea yet are ignorant of its artistic quality to life past and present.
I expected at least one receipe of Japanese tea unknown to the west but found not one blend but certainly a receipe for greater bliss, rapture with each cup. I found the missing ingredient in my tea - perspective.
This little book takes you through the history, the philosophy, the poetry, and the religion of tea.
The chapters are as follows: -The Cup of Humanity -The Schools of Tea -Taoism and Zennism -The Tearoom -Art Appreciation -Flowers -Tea Masters
This book reads like poetry. There is a chapter called "Flowers" which gives you the perspective of a flower in the grasp of man. It challenges you to gain feeling, to become alive by admiring life. "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? Dream on, sway and frolic while you may in the gentle breezes of summer. 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. The wretch, she may be passing fair. She may say how lovely you are while her fingers are still moist with your blood. Tell me, will this be kindness? It may be your fate to be imprisoned in the hair of one whom you know to be heartless or to be thrust into the buttonhole of one who would not dare to look you in the face were you a man.
Like all the Shambhala classics, this book is spiritual. I hope you can read it and be forever changed. Next time I will taste with my spirit not my tongue.
The Philosophy Of Tea Sep 4, 2006
Japanese green tea has recently been touted as health drinks having lots of nutrious ingredients including catechin and Teanin.
This book by the late 19th century artist Tenshin Okakura whose disciples include Daikan Yokoyama ,one of the painters who well describe the beauty of Mt. Fuji, is not about benefits of tea.
The book by narrating how the tea philosophy and ceremony tradition developed in Japan, tries to take us into the beauty of Japanese minds refined by Tea traditon of Japan and the lure of Budhisim or Taoism upon which the tea philosophy is based. One particular icon representing the tea religion is Rikyu Sen the very founder of the tea phlosophy in Japan. The scene of the death of Rikyu is just brilliantly written.
So for some Japanese tea is beyond health drinks. It is a way of our philosophical backbone.
Verdict: Excellent work describing what Japanese should be proud of Rating: 90 out of 100 Some of the anecdotes are hard to come by unless you are highly educated. Recommended for: Anyone who loves the beauty of Japan and Bushido fans.