Book Of Tea I
This is to be the first in a series of posts on The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura. Okakura wrote The Book of Tea in 1906. He wrote it originally in English, so the quotes I use from the book are not translations, but his original words. The book has since been translated into Japanese and, I suspect, a few other languages as well.

Okakura wrote The Book of Tea not only as a way to enlighten Westerners about the traditions and history of the Japanese tea ceremony and tea culture; he also expresses his thoughts about the impending Westernization of Japan at the turn of the 20thcentury. What I love about Okakura's writing is his eloquence and frankness concerning this thoughts on the changing culture around him. Most Japanese still are not frank in expressing their opinions, so I was pleasantly surprised to read the sometimes harsh honesty Okakura writes with. Below is an excerpt regarding the innacurate perceptions Westerners held of the East in the early 1900s:

"Those who cannot feel the littleness of the great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others. The average Westerner, in his sleek complacency, will see in the tea-ceremony but another instance of the thousand and one oddities which constitute the quaintness and childishness of the East to him. He was wont to regard Japan as barbarous while she indulged in the gentle arts of peace: he calls her civilized since she began to commit wholesale slaughter on Manchurian battlefields. Much comment has been given lately to the Code of the Samurai—the Art of Death which makes our soldiers exult in self-sacrifice; but scarcely any attention has been drawn to Teaism, which represents so much of our Art of Life. Fain would we remain barbarians, if our claim to civilization were to be based on the gruesome glory of war. Fain would we await the time when due respect shall be paid to our art and ideals." (p. 31)


written by Ruthie @ 9:35 PM  
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Name: Ruthie
Home: Japan
About Me: I want to know who God is and what his truth is. I love getting lost in beautiful music and cloudless star-filled skies, especially in the fall. I hate being bored. I like big cities. I want to travel the world.
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