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The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura
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The Book of Tea (original 1906; edition 1991)

by Kakuzo Okakura

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1,933485,057 (3.94)46
Member:an_eternalstudent
Title:The Book of Tea
Authors:Kakuzo Okakura
Info:Kodansha International (JPN) (1991), Paperback, 160 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:eastern spirituality

Work details

The Book of Tea by Kakuzō Okakura (1906)

  1. 40
    Three Men in a Boat—To Say Nothing of the Dog by Jerome K. Jerome (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Two books which appear to be about mundane matters on the surface, but are really about how to live life to the fullest
  2. 10
    Chinese Art of Tea by John Blofeld (iijjaallkkaa)
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English (40)  Danish (3)  Hungarian (1)  German (1)  Japanese (1)  Spanish (1)  French (1)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
I was very fascinated by the different schools of thought and views on life, nature and art that are explored. Though the central theme of Tea is woven through the book, it contains so much more deep thinking and contemplation, when it comes to culture and society. I loved this unique glance at Japanese culture and society, as well as the flowing, comforting language Okakura uses. ( )
  marie2830 | Sep 2, 2018 |
At first I struggled with this book. It's hard to decipher what he means in some part, where he uses rather romantic language. However, I found reading aloud brought to life it's meaning.

The chapter on flowers was particularly beautiful.

Overall, it was rather educational and an interesting look into the ideas of Western and Eastern differences of art and culture. ( )
  carmacreator | Jun 13, 2018 |
Good book if you want to learn more about asian culture and asian aesthetics mixed in with Taoist mysticism. ( )
  Heather.Dennis | Nov 29, 2017 |
This inspires me to strive for grace. ( )
  Kitty.Cunningham | Jul 19, 2017 |
The Book of Tea was published in 1906 in North America, where its Japanese author had been living for a number of years. Having grown up in Japan but with a largely Western education there for his earlier years, he sought all the more to connect with his Japanese cultural heritage throughout the rest of his life. Working in a number of artistic institutions and museums, he became expert on the Japanese and Eastern artistic and cultural traditions, and their historical development. What we have here is almost as much a musing on beauty, humanity, and nature, as it is a book on tea. As we come to appreciate through this book, tea and its associated aesthetics, whether or not they are central to the traditional Japanese spirit of culture, are at the very least representative of it as a whole.
The aesthetics and practice of tea consumption in Japan differs greatly from tea in China, India, and the West due to a number of historical, social, geographical and philosophical differences between these cultures. This is very much a book on the Japanese culture of tea, which centres around their tea ceremony, though we are supplied with the relevant contextual detail from other regions to appreciate the interplay of these factors and their importance in determining the quintessentials of the Japanese way.
As a short (90 pages) and very enjoyable read, I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in tea, world history, aesthetics, or Japanese or Eastern civilisation. Though primarily the work of an aesthete, there is also much to interest the reader in terms of social and anthropological thought.
For a hectic modern society that spends so little time in quiet contemplation and enjoyment of the simple things, this book provides a welcome refreshing contrast. ( )
1 vote P_S_Patrick | Jul 15, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (88 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kakuzō Okakuraprimary authorall editionscalculated
Faber, WillIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Soldevila, CarlesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steindorff, MargueriteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steindorff, UlrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vloemans, AntoonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage.
Quotations
The whole idea of Teaism is a result of this Zen conception of greatness in the smallest incidents of life.
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?"
Rikiu was watching his son Shoan as he swept and watered the garden path. "Not clean enough," said Rikiu, when Shoan had finished his task, and bade him try again. After a weary hour the son returned to Rikiu: "Father, there is nothing more to be done. The steps have been washed for the third time, the stone lanterns and the trees are well sprinkled with water, moss and lichens are shining with a fresh verdure; not a twig, not a leaf have I left on the ground." "Young fool," chided the tea-master, "that is not the way a garden path should be swept." Saying this, Rikiu stepped into the garden, shook a tree and scattered over the garden gold and crimson leaves, scraps of the brocade of autumn! What Rikiu demanded was not cleanliness alone, but the beautiful and the natural also.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0486200701, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:36 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

This work brings alive the heart of the Japanese Tea-Masters, and guides us with wit into an understanding of the Eastern aesthetic. The book focuses not on the Tea Ceremony itself, but rather on the culture which engendered the Mind of Tea and on the Masters who embodied this spirit.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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