Since I wrote about ikebana, Japanese flower arrangement, it seems to be a natural transition to move to tea ceremony, another practice that represents Japanese culture.
Well, I first tried to introduce it with my own words, but I give up, since Kakuzo Okakura has already so eloquently explained in English 110 years ago. Rather, I will introduce Okakura’s words in this blog, taking advantage of the fact that his copyright has expired and the Project Gutenberg EBook of “The Book of Tea” is now available. In the next several days, I will copy paragraphs from the first chapter.
Just a note to add…. In his book, Okakura uses a term “teaism” rather than “tea ceremony” to depict the same practice.
(I personally like “teaism” better, but wonder how the term “tea ceremony” became more popular.)
Here it begins:
“I. The Cup of Humanity
Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennoble it into a religion of aestheticism–Teaism. Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.”