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The Book of Tea (Stone Bridge Classics) Paperback – April 1, 2007
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Mass Market Paperback, International Edition
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"...The best introduction to Oriental life and perception in English." --TEA A Magazine
"The Book of Tea is beautifully designed and will make an excellent small gift, especially since tea has become fashionable." --New Age Retailer
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
"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."
(Chapter One, The Cup of Humanity)
For those looking for detailed instructions on conducting a tea ceremony, look elsewhere. But for those who want a handbook on a way of life, read further
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.Read more ›
Kakuzo explains the Japanese tea ceremony to a non-Japanese audience. Oddly, he does not describe the ceremony. Instead, he lays out the history of tea and the history of the Zen esthetic in which cha-do ("the way of tea") makes sense. He describes the place in which the ceremony is held, and some of the tools used in that ceremony. He does not, however, spell out the mechanics of the service. Perhaps it's just as well. As Kakuzo describes, it is not the tea that matters. It is the effect that the ritual has on the people who perform it.
This book is laid out simply and elegantly, as befits its topic. The primary font is a little unusual - a long-waisted serif that connotes the warm feeling of the text itself. Page layouts are airy, and have a distinctive swaying gait from as they step from chapter to chapter. The few photos that illustrate this book are atmospheric, and printed in a subdued color scheme. It doesn't equal the old slip-case edition, but it's still a pleasing and instructive sample of book design.
This is a pleasant book, and a short one. The reading is over much too quickly. It is also a delightful contrast to another Japanese author writing for an English audience at very nearly the same time. Nitobe's unfortunate "Bushido" tries much too hard to explain itself in Western terms. Kakuzo, instead, expresses his home culture in its own terms, the only ones that make sense, and in much more readable language.
PS: This edition has a new intro by Liza Dalby, the first and possibly only American woman to complete training as a geisha.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book is about the cultural significance of tea on Zen and East Asia.
The explanation of Zen and Eastern philosophy is engaging but found myself wondering when the... Read more
For those who practice zen, this book reflects the fundamental structure of "why" and" why not." It is accessible and impolite.Published 1 month ago by Jonathan Jacobs