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Japanese Proverb, Okakura Kakuzo & Toyotomi Hideyoshi on Tea

Japanese Proverb, Okakura Kakuzo & Toyotomi Hideyoshi on Tea
Photo: An open tea house serving matcha (ippuku issen 一服一銭, right) and a peddler selling extracts (senjimono-uri ja:煎じ物売, left) in Muromachi period illustrated in 24th poem match in Shichiju-ichiban shokunin utaawase (ja:七十一番職人歌合, Seventy-one Poetry Matches on the (142) Occupations, a copy of Tokyo National Museum reproduced in 1846, originally compiled in 1500). Ippuku issen's monk clothing depicts the relationship between matcha culture, tea ceremony, and Buddhism.


If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.

(Japanese Proverb)

In the common parlance we speak of the man ‘with no tea’ in him, when he is insusceptible to the seriocomic (a combination of serious and comic) interests of the personal drama. Again we stigmatize the untamed aesthete who, regardless of the mundane tragedy, runs riot in the spring-tide of emancipated emotions, as one ‘with too much tea’ in him.

(Okakura Kakuzo)

When tea is made with water drawn from the depths of Mind
Whose bottom is beyond measure,
We really have what is called cha-no-yu (i.e. the tea ceremony).

(Toyotomi Hideyoshi)



Recommended Reading:

'Zen and Japanese Culture'
by Daisetz T. Suzuki (Author), Richard M. Jaffe (Introduction)

Purchase Book:




Zen and Japanese Culture is one of the twentieth century's leading works on Zen, and a valuable source for those wishing to understand its concepts in the context of Japanese life and art. In simple, often poetic, language, Daisetz Suzuki describes his conception of Zen and its historical evolution. He connects Zen to the philosophy of the samurai, and subtly portrays the relationship between Zen and swordsmanship, haiku, tea ceremonies, and the Japanese love of nature. Suzuki's contemplative work is enhanced by anecdotes, poetry, and illustrations showing silk screens, calligraphy, and examples of architecture.

Since its original publication in 1938, this important work has played a major role in shaping conceptions of Zen's influence on Japanese traditional arts. Richard Jaffe's introduction acquaints a new generation of readers with Suzuki's life and career in both Japan and America. Jaffe discusses how Zen and Japanese Culture was received upon its first publication and analyzes the book in light of contemporary criticism, especially by scholars of Japanese Buddhism.

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "As one turns the pages of this delightful book, one seems to catch intimations of how and why certain aspects of the "spirit of Zen' are making themselves felt in America today."

(The New York Times)

Praise for Princeton's previous editions: "[In] Dr. Suzuki's beautiful book, . . . the cults of tea, sword, archery, garden, painting, handwriting are shown as separate petals of that precious efflorescence which, in spite of history, madness and the disturbed surface of the tangible world, are celebrated today, inside and outside of many golden pavilions."

(Lincoln Kirstein, The Nation)
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