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on 23 September 2011
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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on 24 August 1998
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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on 19 September 2017
A great book.
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on 24 June 2011
Even though this book was written ages ago, it is very relevant to our modern hectic lifestyle. Reading the book was a pleasure and it made me aware of the power of tea. Now, tea has become a major part of my life and coupled with Za-Zen gives me a lot of peace. I would recommend this book.
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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" (chadô) 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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on 8 February 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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on 4 July 2011
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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on 16 December 2015
I adore Kauzo Okakura's authorship, but the quality of paperback version really lets his work down. You (whoever is responsible for this product) should be ashamed about printing something as beautiful as 'the book of tea', the book of books on the aesthetics of traditional Japanese tea ceremony, in something so cheap, careless and tasteless as this. Given the price I was expecting something simple and less durable, but not in my wildest dreams did I suspect that I would be able to count the pixels on the cover. This book design is a testimony to the ills of mass production. It is everything the tea making ritual is not. I am so deeply disappointed.
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on 24 March 2011
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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on 14 January 2013
This is an odd little book, clearly from another age.

It is relaxing to read and thought-provoking. It may not be everyone's, er, cup of tea, but some are likely to find it very much to their taste. Give it a try.
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