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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty ritualized
This little booklet, written in 1906, is still one of the absolute classics on the Japanese tea ceremony. This essay about Japanese culture as it is epitomized in the "way of tea" (chadō) also served as an apology for Eastern traditions at large to the Western world. Okakura was a practitioner, art critic and connoisseur, and a collaborator of Fenellosa and his circle,...
Published on 16 May 2002 by paul.cortois@hiw.kuleuven.ac.be

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great content but poor quality book.
I ordered this as a gift for a friend who is a tea lover but I was very disappointed by the quality of the product I received. It is pretty much a digital colour copy of the book. The image on the front cover is pixelated because of the poor resolution. I have bought another edition of this book for £1 more which was proper print quality and included extra notes. The...
Published 16 months ago by May Kasahara


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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty ritualized, 16 May 2002
This review is from: The Book of Tea (Paperback)
This little booklet, written in 1906, is still one of the absolute classics on the Japanese tea ceremony. This essay about Japanese culture as it is epitomized in the "way of tea" (chadō) also served as an apology for Eastern traditions at large to the Western world. Okakura was a practitioner, art critic and connoisseur, and a collaborator of Fenellosa and his circle, who introduced Japanese art in the United States. Although detailed technical information about the ceremony is avoided, the latter's historical background as well as its relation to Japanese attitudes, Zen, Tao, art and art appreciation are treated in a suggestive and essayistic vein. The way of tea appears as a "moral geometry" embodying particular values than a particular set of beliefs. There is, thus, a "philosophy of tea", at least in the sense that the practice of tea wholly constitutes a "form of life".
The book was written in a graceful, clear and precise English, which is in itself a remarkable feat.
Amateurs of the way of tea should combine this reading with more detailed studies such as Sadler's, Shositsu Sen's and Horst Hammitzsch's, or the academic and up to date study by Jennifer Anderson.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars go with the flow, 8 Feb 2012
I spotted this in passing looking for another Japanese author. Seeing the high rating I decided to give it a go, although I usually drink coffee. I read it over two evenings, a can't put down - tea cup in hand. I admit finding it a short, fascinating and succinct account about the tea ceremony, and the interplay of Taoism, Zen Buddhism and Confucianism in the early development of Japan and China. That might seem a little bland for current tastes. However the written style pulls the reader along, as though on a crest of a wave. Although written in English, it seems quite unlike the typical western literature style of a century ago. Lyrical yet concise, I suspect this flowing text a polished Taoist style; as is explained Tao is all about movement. It is never dull irrespective of the topic on the page.
Why just four stars? The artistry and individualism of the tea masters must surely have been balanced by a rigid enforced code of conformity on the part of the recipient tea drinkers. The author's pride over the artistic perfectionism of the Tea ceremony I can accept. The direct criticism of Western culture in comparison I find less palatable. In this I had an uneasy scent of cultural and religious elitism, nationalism not far away. It ultimately smacks of intolerance, or is that too strong? I would invite the author around to argue over a cup of tea!
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An inexpensive, high quality edition of a classic., 24 Aug 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Book of Tea (Paperback)
For anyone interested in Asian, and particularly Japanese, culture, this book is a must. By following the history of tea and its role in the spiritual and cultural development of Japan, this slim volume gives the reader remarkable insight into the Japanese mind. Written with a keen sense of humor, the Book of Tea is very readable and entertaining, while at the same time illustrating the Japanese passion for the simple. This version is a quality translation, and you cannot beat the price. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in Japan, Buddhism, Taoism, or tea.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars FAKE BOOK, 29 May 2013
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This review is from: The Book of Tea (Paperback)
This book is not a real print. It is fake copy, and a very bad fake at that. Looks like its been printed on a regular printer and cheaply laminated and stapled together!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great content but poor quality book., 22 Mar 2013
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May Kasahara (Central London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Book of Tea (Paperback)
I ordered this as a gift for a friend who is a tea lover but I was very disappointed by the quality of the product I received. It is pretty much a digital colour copy of the book. The image on the front cover is pixelated because of the poor resolution. I have bought another edition of this book for £1 more which was proper print quality and included extra notes. The other edition has a brown cover with an image within a square on the cover.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very imformative, 6 Mar 2012
This review is from: The Book of Tea (Paperback)
The language used it beautiful, poetic in parts, and has made me look at tea in a whole new light.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a book!, 23 Sep 2011
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Val (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
I wasn't sure what to expect from 'The Book of Tea', but I was so pleasantly surprised. It is beautifully written, and thoroughly fascinating. The author not only describes in detail the evolution of tea drinking and tea ceremonies in Asia over the centuries, but also articulately contrasts eastern and western cultures with respect to attitudes towards aesthetics and beauty. His description of the Japanese attitude towards flowers and floral displays is simply poetic.

I would recommend this to anybody who is interested in Asian religious and cultural development, or in the varying cultural perceptions of beauty.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It changed me..., 4 July 2011
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This review is from: The Book of Tea (Paperback)
First, it is written in a beautiful language, more rare these days, making you feel like you hold a treasure in your hands - and you do! Just by reading, you will sense how true is what the author is expressing. It will make you question the western world, and you will want to live simply and deeply. It is my treasure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond the book of tea, 24 Mar 2011
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This review is from: The Book of Tea (Paperback)
This is a most delightful book for anybody who is interested in Japanese esthetics, inherent in their traditional art of living. The text sheds light on many differt aspects of Japanese creation, sensitivity towards nature and the culminating sense of the sublime which human beings can achieve. The principles seem to have travelled trough centuries of war and catastrophies and still remain intact. A gentle yet powerful breath of air, full of awareness for human nature. The essence of the philosophies are still valid in today's Japan and are soothing in the present state of the globe.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Wild but a Stimulating and Inspiring Introduction to the Tea Ceremony, 13 July 2014
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Harry the book monkey (Citizen of the world) - See all my reviews
It’s difficult to know where to begin with this book so I think I’ll better start by saying that I brought it because I was interested in the tea ceremony, because this was a short volume and because it was a penguin classic, I assumed it must have some merit. The scope of the book covers a brief history of tea making, a brief introduction to Taoism and “Zenism” to provide a background to the aesthetic/philosophic concerns of the tea ceremony and ultimately covers the tea room/house and the ceremony itself. However this description of the content does not do the book justice in the slightest. The book is written in the style of a polemist thrusting their knowledge in your face. It is full of errors over the spellings of names as if the author was just enthusiastically putting all their knowledge on paper eager to say something. Subjects are quickly passed over for fear that momentum would be lost by getting bogged down in such details. On top of this I think it a wonder that “east meets west in a teacup” given what Kakuzo Okakura has to say about the savagery and snobbery of Europeans in the 1st chapter. I wonder why a western reader would want to meet with eastern writer in a teacup after such a tirade. There is no doubt about it, Okakura’s prose style is wild and to a certain degree I have to admit its aggression and florid wildness is a bit off-putting, but at the same time it is far from a dull and although a reader my feel that the sections on Taoism and “Zenism” are superficial, what has been written has much inspirational power. I have to say that I am tempted to run off now and by a copy of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu based on the ideas as they are presented by Okakura, i.e. with passion, interest and enthusiasm. The sections on the tea house and art appreciation are equally inspiring emphasizing asymmetry and incompleteness unleash the imagination’s need for complete the incomplete, and in that sense Okakura’s prose reflects this, with the result that reading this book like opening a can of worms, with ideas issuing forth that can send you off in a myriad of directions.

I think the choice of whether to buy this book or another book on the tea ceremony should be based on whether you want a book that keeps to the immediate issues of how to perform a ceremony or not. This does not mean that this is a bad book, it is far from that, but it is a book to be read for its own sake and not just to read for what you intended to get out of it.
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The Book of Tea
The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura (Paperback - 4 Oct 2011)
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