The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzō

The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzō

Author:Okakura Kakuzō
Language: eng
Format: azw3, epub
Tags: Japan -- Social life and customs, Tea, Japanese tea ceremony
Publisher: Standard Ebooks
Published: 2019-01-24T17:02:28+00:00

Oth­ers, like Ko­bori-En­shiu, sought for a dif­fer­ent ef­fect. En­shiu said the idea of the garden path was to be found in the fol­low­ing verses:

“A cluster of sum­mer trees,

A bit of the sea,

A pale even­ing moon.”

It is not dif­fi­cult to gather his mean­ing. He wished to cre­ate the at­ti­tude of a newly awakened soul still linger­ing amid shad­owy dreams of the past, yet bathing in the sweet un­con­scious­ness of a mel­low spir­itual light, and yearn­ing for the free­dom that lay in the ex­panse bey­ond.

Thus pre­pared the guest will si­lently ap­proach the sanc­tu­ary, and, if a samurai, will leave his sword on the rack be­neath the eaves, the tearoom be­ing pree­m­in­ently the house of peace. Then he will bend low and creep into the room through a small door not more than three feet in height. This pro­ceed­ing was in­cum­bent on all guests—high and low alike—and was in­ten­ded to in­cul­cate hu­mil­ity. The or­der of pre­ced­ence hav­ing been mu­tu­ally agreed upon while rest­ing in the ma­chiai, the guests one by one will enter noise­lessly and take their seats, first mak­ing obeis­ance to the pic­ture or flower ar­range­ment on the tokonoma. The host will not enter the room un­til all the guests have seated them­selves and quiet reigns with noth­ing to break the si­lence save the note of the boil­ing wa­ter in the iron kettle. The kettle sings well, for pieces of iron are so ar­ranged in the bot­tom as to pro­duce a pe­cu­liar melody in which one may hear the echoes of a catar­act muffled by clouds, of a dis­tant sea break­ing among the rocks, a rain­storm sweep­ing through a bam­boo forest, or of the sough­ing of pines on some faraway hill.

Even in the day­time the light in the room is sub­dued, for the low eaves of the slant­ing roof ad­mit but few of the sun’s rays. Everything is sober in tint from the ceil­ing to the floor; the guests them­selves have care­fully chosen gar­ments of un­ob­trus­ive col­ors. The mel­low­ness of age is over all, everything sug­gest­ive of re­cent ac­quire­ment be­ing ta­booed save only the one note of con­trast fur­nished by the bam­boo dip­per and the linen nap­kin, both im­macu­lately white and new. However faded the tearoom and the tea-equipage may seem, everything is ab­so­lutely clean. Not a particle of dust will be found in the darkest corner, for if any ex­ists the host is not a tea-mas­ter. One of the first re­quis­ites of a tea-mas­ter is the know­ledge of how to sweep, clean, and wash, for there is an art in clean­ing and dust­ing. A piece of an­tique metal work must not be at­tacked with the un­scru­pu­lous zeal of the Dutch house­wife. Drip­ping wa­ter from a flower vase need not be wiped away, for it may be sug­gest­ive of dew and cool­ness.

In this con­nec­tion there is a story of Rikiu which well il­lus­trates the ideas of clean­li­ness en­ter­tained by the tea-mas­ters. Rikiu was watch­ing his son Shoan as he swept and watered the garden path. “Not clean enough,” said Rikiu, when Shoan had fin­ished his task, and bade him try again.


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