The Book of Tea: Beauty, Simplicity, and the Zen Aesthetic
by Okakura Kakuzo Author, Andrew Juniper Author, Liza Dalby Author and Elise Grilli Author
In 1906, in turn-of-the-century Boston, a small, esoteric book about tea was written with the intention of being read aloud in the famous salon of Isabella Stewart Gardner—Boston's most notorious socialite. It was authored by Okakura Kakuzo, a Japanese philosopher, art expert, and curator. Little known at the time, Kakuzo would emerge as one of the great thinkers of the early 20th century, a genius who was insightful, witty, and greatly responsible for bridging Western and Eastern cultures. Okakura had been taught at a young age to speak English, and was more than capable of expressing to Westerners the nuances of tea and the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Nearly a century later, Kakuzo's The Book of Tea is still beloved the world over, making it an essential part of any tea enthusiast's collection. The book doesn't focus on the tea ceremony itself, but rather on the Zen Buddhist philosophy behind it. Kakuzo teaches us to cultivate an everyday awareness of the beauty in all the common things around us. His powerful message is even more relevant today than when he wrote this book, and it serves as a wonderful introduction to the aesthetics of Japanese culture. Interwoven with a rich history of Japanese tea and its place in Japanese society is a poignant commentary on Asian culture and our ongoing fascination with it, as well as illuminating essays on art, spirituality, poetry, and more.
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