Okakura Kakuzo was born in the bustling seaport of Yokohama in 1862, only eight years after Commodore Perry’s “Black Ships” pried open Japan’s international trade gates. Christian missionaries taught him to speak English and sing Methodist hymns, while Buddhist monks schooled him in Confucianism and drinking green tea. Working alongside his teachers at Tokyo University, all imported from New England, Okakura helped save Japan’s artistic traditions from being tossed aside in favor of modern Western aesthetics.
By the turn of the twentieth century, Okakura had made his way to Boston, where he became the Director of the Asian Arts Department at the Museum of Fine Arts and the favorite companion of Back Bay society’s grande dame, Isabella Stewart Gardner. Okakura found tea to be the perfect metaphor for interpreting the Japanese art spirit to a Boston culture thirsty for a counterpoint to America’s headlong rush into materialism and wealth. The Book of Tea was first published in 1906 and has never been out of print. It is one of the most influential books ever written for those looking to infuse the tea spirit into their lives.
American tea writer Bruce Richardson includes many historical photographs and illustrations in this updated edition of Okakura’s classic text, along with a unique insight into how Okakura’s philosophy continues to inspire today’s tea culture. Plus, Richardson includes an all-new chapter on America’s thirst for Japanese tea during the late 1800s, illustrated with archival photographs.
Hardcover with jacket, 104 pages, 50 illustrations