Sunday, March 2, 2014

#18 The Book of Tea

The Book of TeaThe Book of Tea by Kakuzō Okakura

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a good short little book that gives to us Westerners a nice window on Japanese culture at the turn of the last century via teaism. (I hadn't even known teaism was a thing.)

I found it highly readable. I'll just share one thing that I learn: in the Japanese tea esthetic redundancy is to be scrupulously avoided. Thus, the tea set should not be matching in a Western sense. Also the flowers and the painting in the tea house should complement each other, but not repeat each other. The no-repetition thing goes beyond what we Westerners would see as pedantic; for example, the teapot must never be placed in the center of the tea tray, for that would result in repetition between the two halves of the tray thus created by the pot. Okakura points out that paintings of food hanging in dining rooms or restaurants in Western culture are obscenely redundant to the teaist esthetic.

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