The Book of Tea: 茶の本 <対訳>

Chapter IV The Tea Room

第四章  茶室

To European architects brought up to the traditions of stone and brick construction, our Japanese method of building with wood and bamboo seems scarcely worthy to be ranked as architecture. It is but quite recently that a competent student of Western architecture has recognised and paid tribute to the remarkable perfection of our great temples. Such being the case as regards our classic architecture, we could hardly expect the outsider to appreciate the subtle beauty of the tea-room, its principles of construction and decoration being entirely different from those of the West.

The tea-room (the Sukiya) does not pretend to be other than a mere cottage – a straw hut, as we call it. The original ideographs for Sukiya mean the Adobe of Fancy. Latterly the various tea-masters substituted various Chinese characters according to their conception of the tea-room, and the term Sukiya may signify the Adobe of Vacancy or the Adobe of the Unsymmetrical. It is an adobe of Fancy inasmuch as it is an ephemeral structure built to house a poetic impulse. It is an Adobe of the Vacancy inasmuch as it is devoid of an ornamentation except for what may be placed in it to satisfy some aesthetic need of the moment. It is an Adobe of the Unsymmetrical inasmuch as it is consecrated to the worship of the Imperfect, purposely leaving some thing unfinished for the play of the imagination to complete. The ideals of Teaism have since the sixteenth century influenced our architecture to such degree that the ordinary Japanese interior of the present day, on account of the extreme simplicity and chasteness of its scheme of decoration, appears to foreigners almost barren.

The first independent tea-room was the creation of Senno-Soyeki, commonly know by his later name of Rikiu, the greatest of all tea-masters, who, in the sixteenth century, under the patronage of Taiko Hideyoshi, instituted and brought to a high state of perfection the formalities of the Tea-Ceremony. The proportions of the tea-room had been previously determined by Jowo – a famous tea-master of the fifteenth century. The early tea-room consisted merely of a portion of the ordinary drawing-room partitioned off by screens for the purpose of the tea-gathering. The portion partitioned off was called the Kakoi(enclosure), a name still applied to those tea-rooms which are built into a house and are not independent constructions. The Sukiya consists of the tea-room proper, designed to accommodate not more than five persons, a number suggestive of the saying “more than the Graces and less than the Muses,” an anteroom (midsuya) where the tea utensils are washed and arranged before being brought in, a portico(machiai) in which the guests wait until they receive the summons to enter the tea-room is unimpressive in appearance. It is smaller than the smallest of Japanese houses, while the materials used in its construction are intended to give the suggestion of refined poverty. yet we must remember that all this is the result of profound artistic forethought , and that the details have been worked out with care perhaps even greater than that expended on the building of the richest palaces and temples. A good tea-room is more costly than an ordinary mansion, for the selection of its materials, as well as its workmanship, requires immense care and precision. Indeed, the carpenters employed by the tea-masters form a distinct and highly honoured class among artisans, their work being no less delicate than that of the makers of lacquer cabinets.

The tea-room is not only different from any production of Western architecture, but also contrasts strongly with the classical architecture of Japan itself. Our ancient noble edifices, whether secular or ecclesiastical, were not to be despised even as regards their mere size. The few that have been spared in the disastrous conflagrations of centuries are still capable of aweing us by the grandeur and richness of their decoration. Huge pillars of wood from two to three feet in diameter and from thirty to forty feet high, supported, by a complicated network under the weight of the tile-covered slanting roofs. The material and mode of construction, though weak against fire, proved itself strong against earthquakes and was well suited to the climatic conditions of the country. In the Golden Hall of Horiuji and the Pagoda of Yakushiji, we have noteworthy examples of the buildings have practically stood intact for nearly twelve centuries. The interior of the old temples and palaces was profusely decorated. In the Hoōdo temple at Uji, dating from the tenth century, we can still see the elaborate canopy and gilded baldachins, many-coloured and inlaid with mirrors and mother-of-pearl, as well as remains of the paintings and sculpture which formerly covered the walls. Later at Nikko and in the Nijo castle in Kyoto, we see structural beauty sacrificed to a wealth of ornamentation which in colour and exquisite detail equals the utmost gorgeousness of Arabian or Moorish effort.







What I have in my mind

This article is a translation of previous one.

When I was browsing books about great writers or writings, I coincidentally made the acquaintance of other writers frequently, that mainly attracted me in the past, whereas I had suspended further research on them. I never anticipated to find out the notification in the book that one and another had actually met or they had been in the same place before, or he/she had been quoted as an example of their story. That was like unexpectedly completing a piece of gigantic jigsaw puzzle which is very hard in the process of making, I felt an ease which was the same sense of fitting something accurately in my heart. If I were to see as a flying creature the vast ground from the highest view among obscure clouds, it might be as well as seeing slight landscape through a chink which is getting wider. So I would fain tell viewers about my tiny experiences which are short, and to write down my prospect as well.

At first, I would like to mention of Khalil Gibran. I brought my mind to the translation of his poetry had been arranged among the works of Kamiya Mieko in the section of Misuzu Shobo in some bookshops since long time ago. I wondered his name supposed to be originated from west Asia, and I thumbed through one of Kamiya’s book. After that I knew that Kamiya Mieko was in the department of Psychiatry of Tokyo University, school of medicine, in which Kinoshita Mokutaro(Ohta Masao) was belong to the department of Dermatology as a professor. Such connection has directly nothing to do with literary meaning, however, people may get close each other unconsciously by somewhat called a gravity, I must say.

I learnt that Gibran was born in Lebanon, where the former Ottoman empire had occupied, and he has been famous for his poetry, especially “The Prophet” has been read worldwide. It is true that his works translated in Japanese are available in remote cities of Japan as well, nevertheless the original version can be purchased only online if living in local cities. It is all the more difficult to buy other language edition. The other day I found that Gibran firstly conceived the idea of “The Prophet” in Arabic. He went to the America in his youth and learnt skills of English, then he also went back home to receive higher education of Arabic.

Fortunately I got an ebook of “The Prophet” in English and Arabic version. I am not get used to read in Kindle, but it was a good purchase that I got it within 1,000Yen. As I read the introduction, that says it took twenty years to translate in Arabic. What a long journey it is! I cannot understand the concept of price tagging when I came across such a valuable book that is affordable less than 1,000Yen. I am also a member of Kindle unlimited in, so I am able to read the Japanese translation by Sakuma Takeshi for free. Then I have started to read it. What I felt was that it was easy to read and not many pages. But I have to mention that read easily and be comprehensible are not the same. The energy that the writer brought his heart to bear upon every single words must be so immense that I have to read it thoroughly. This is one of my utmost happiness to realise that I can examine it many times. As for the title “The Prophet”, it is a story like a manual of life course, the prophet Almustafa(المصطفى), teaches lessons to people who need guidance. I have not read the original poetry yet so it is not the time to speak of it. And I have got the reasonable reference book for studying Arabic at last, I would like to reverse translate gradually by using this ebook. Someday I would be happy to introduce the study result.

Secondly, I would fain speak of Rabindranath Tagore. Recently, I have very been attracted by the fact that non-English born person such as Gibran creates great English writings. Needless to say, Okakura Tenshin who is inordinately contributed to Kamegoro Law Firm is the one of greatest writer from non-Anglosphere, I believe. It is tremendously shameful for me to tell you that I thought that nothing better than using own language when expressing one’s own culture. How stupid I am! That is not true. At least Tenshin himself succeeded in attempting it in literature. Of course Gibran must have accomplished, not to mention Tagore and other writers who I do not know. I am very excited to know the fact all the more that Tenshin and Tagore knew each other, and visited their countries. It is said that Tagore has been to Tenshin’s tombstone when he died. Tagore was in Izura! He wrote “Gitanjali(গীতাঞ্জলি)” in Bengali, later on he wrote it again in English. Someday, I wish I could read his work.

I think that it is a huge encouragement for me to know that such people who are from non-Anglosphere write English literature. Particularly as for myself, who live in the world of totally different linguistic family, is quite an incentive.

I sometimes write articles in English, which are not praiseworthy contents and I think I am at best the third-rate writer. There must be many errors in my sentences. But I would like to keep writing my blog in English with my style. Then I would like to sophisticate my essay writing technique, not to be contented with the present situation, humbly tolerate the critics of others and review retrospectively by myself.

Finally, I would fain end the article by introducing a songwriter from Iceland. His name is Ásgeir Trausti. He speaks Icelandic but also good at writing beautiful lyrics in English.

Glistening nighttime dew, and she is walking with me.  

From the house of red, I hear a child crying.  

Foxes heading home, their prey hangs from their jaws.

And the forest knows, but it won’t share the secret.

When the king takes sides, leaving moral minds; soldiers take their share. Nighthawks seem to sense that now is the time.  

Deep inside them burns the raging fire of life.

He’ll take back what he owns.

Death cannot take hold, if I can keep momentum.  

Fortresses of stone, turn into crystal tears soothed by southern winds; I’ve found my strength now.  

And nobody knows, and we must keep their secret.

When the king takes sides, leaving moral minds; soldiers take their share. Nighthawks seem to sense that now is the time.

Deep inside them burns the raging fire of life.

He’ll take back what he owns.

When the king takes sides, leaving moral minds; soldiers take their share. Nighthawks seem to sense that now is the time.

Deep inside them burns the raging fire of life.

He’ll take back what he owns.

Dýrð í dauðaþögn, 2012 (In the Silence, 2013)

Thank you for reading.



 一つは、Khalil Gibran (ハリール・ジブラーン)のこと.私は、ずっと前から書店のみすず書房のコーナーに、神谷美恵子の著作が並んでいて、その中にGibranの詩訳が置いてあったのが気になっていた.名前からして西アジア出身の人物かな、という類推のもと、パラパラと本をめくったことがあった.神谷美恵子は木下杢太郎(太田正雄)が皮膚科教授であったころの東大医局に出入りしていたと後に知った.こうした縁は文学上直接な関係があったわけではないにせよ、人々は何らかの奇妙な引力でお互いに惹かれ合うのかもしれない.そういうしかない.

 Gibranは当時オスマン帝国の支配下にあったレバノンの出身であること、詩作がよく知られていること、特に「The Prophet:預言者」が世界中で翻訳されていることを私は知った.和文翻訳は確かに大きな書店でも並んでいて、有名だ.だが、原文は地方では通信販売でしか手に入らない.他言語であれば尚更である.私は別の時期に、GibranがThe Prophetを最初はアラビア語で構想を練ったことを知る.彼は若い頃に渡米し英語の素養を身につけるが、帰国しアラビア語の高等教育をも学んでいる.

 幸運にもアラビア語版と原文同時収録の電子書籍を手に入れることができた.私はあまりKindleを使わないから不慣れだが、1000円未満で入手できたのは良い.本の紹介を見ると訳に20年ほどかけたと書いてある.何という長い旅路であることか.これが1000円未満程度になってしまうとは物の価値はよくわからない.私はKindle unlimitedにも入っているから佐久間彪訳の邦訳を無料で読むことができる.そして早速読んでみた.私が感じたのは、思ったほど分量がないことと大変読みやすいということであった.ただ、読みやすいのとわかりやすいというのは意味が異なる.一言一句にかけるエネルギー量が他の作品と違うであろうから、何度もよく読む必要がある.これは何度も味わえるということだから、嬉しいことこの上ない.預言者という題名であるが、人生における手引きのような感覚で、預言者アルムスタファ(المصطفى)が人々に助言を与えるといった内容だ.私は原文を読んでいないから書評はこれからとなる.そして私はアラビア語の勉強に相応しいであろう教材をようやく入手できたから少しずつ、勉強がてら逆翻訳してみようと思っている.近いうちに紹介したいと思う.

 もう一つはRabindranath Tagore(ラビンドラナート・タゴール)のこと.私は最近、Gibranのように非英語圏の人物が優れた英文を著す、という事実に大変心惹かれている.勿論、亀吾郎法律事務所でお世話になっている岡倉天心も非英語圏の優れた著述家であろうと私は思っている.このようなことを言うのは無知を晒すようで恥ずかしいのであるが、私は、自国文化のことを表現するのに自国の言語以上に優れたものはないと思っていたことがあった.何という愚かさ.そんなことはないのだ.少なくとも天心はその試みにおいて成功している.もちろんGibranも成し遂げているのだろう.そしてTagoreも、私の知らない数多くの文人達も.私は天心とTagoreが親交を持ち、両者が互いに行き来したという事実を知り、益々興味が湧いている.Tagoreは天心の死後に彼の墓を訪れているという.Tagoreは五浦にいたことがあったのか.彼ははベンガル語でGitanjali (ギタンジャリ:গীতাঞ্জলি)を著し、後に英文で同著を書いたという.いつか彼の作品を読んでみたいと思っている.



 最後に、アイスランド出身の作曲家の歌詞を紹介してお終いにしたい.彼はÁsgeir Trausti(アウスゲイル・トロスティ).彼の母語は勿論アイスランド語であるが、英語の美しい詩を書いている.

King and Cross

Glistening nighttime dew, and she is walking with me.  

From the house of red, I hear a child crying.  

Foxes heading home, their prey hangs from their jaws.

And the forest knows, but it won’t share the secret.

When the king takes sides, leaving moral minds; soldiers take their share. Nighthawks seem to sense that now is the time.  

Deep inside them burns the raging fire of life.

He’ll take back what he owns.

Death cannot take hold, if I can keep momentum.  

Fortresses of stone, turn into crystal tears soothed by southern winds; I’ve found my strength now.  

And nobody knows, and we must keep their secret.

When the king takes sides, leaving moral minds; soldiers take their share. Nighthawks seem to sense that now is the time.

Deep inside them burns the raging fire of life.

He’ll take back what he owns.

When the king takes sides, leaving moral minds; soldiers take their share. Nighthawks seem to sense that now is the time.

Deep inside them burns the raging fire of life.

He’ll take back what he owns.

In the Silence, 2013


The Book of Tea: 茶の本

Photo by Rajesh TP on




The germ of Taoist speculation may be found long before the advent of Laotse, surnamed the Long-Eared. The archaic records of China, especially the Book of Changes, foreshadow his thought. But the great respect paid to the laws and customs of that classic period of Chinese civilisation which culminated with the establishment of the Chow dynasty in the sixteenth century B. C., kept the development of individualism in check for a long while, so that it was not until after the disintegration of the Chow dynasty and the establishment of innumerable independent of kingdoms that it was able to blossom forth in the luxuriance of free-thought. Laotse and Soshi (Chuangtse) were both Southerners and the greatest exponents of the New School. On the other hand Confucius with his numerous disciples aimed at retaining ancestral conventions. Taoism cannot be understood without some knowledge of Confucianism and vice versa.

We have said that the Taoist Absolute was the Relative. In ethics the Taoist railed at the laws and the moral codes of society, for to them right and wrong were but relative terms. Definition is always limitation – the “fixed” and “unchangeless” are but terms expressive of a stoppage of growth. Said Kutsugen, – “The Sages move the world.” Our standards of morality are begotten of past needs of society, but is society to remain always the same? The observance of communal traditions involves a constant sacrifice of the individual to the state. Education, in order to keep up the mighty delusuion, encourages a species of ignorance. People are not taught to be really virtuous, but to behave properly. We are wicked because we are frightfully self-conscious. We never forgive others because we know that we ourselves are in the wrong. We nurse a conscious because we are afraid to tell the truth to others; we take refuge in pride because we are afraid to tell the truth to ourselves. How can one be serious with the world when the world itself is so ridiculous! The spirit of barter is everywhere. Humour and Chastity! Behold the complacent salesman retailing the Good and True. One can even buy a so-called Religion, which is really but common morality sanctified with flowers and music. Rob the Church of her accessories and what remains behind? Yet the trusts thrive marvellously, for the prices are absurdly cheap, – a prayer for a ticket to heaven, a diploma for an honourable citizenship. Hide yourself under a bushel quickly, for if your real usefulness were known to the world you would soon be knocked down to the highest bidder by the public auctioneer. Why do men and women like to advertise themselves so much? Is it not but an instinct derived from the days of slavery?

The virility of the idea lies not less in its power of breaking through contemporary thought than in its capacity for dominating subsequent movements. Taoism was an active power during the Shin dynasty, that epoch of Chinese unification from which we derive the name China. It would be interesting had we time to note its influence on contemporary thinkers, the mathematicians, writers on law and war, the mystics and alchemists and the later nature-poets of the Yangtse-Kiang. We should not even ignore those speculators on Reality who doubted whether a white horse was real because he was white, or because he was solid, nor the Conversationalists of the Six dynasties who, like the Zen philosophers, revelled in discussions concerning the Pure and the Abstract. Above all we should pay homage to Taoism for what it has done toward the formation of the Celestial character, giving to it a certain capacity for reserve and refinement as “warm as jade.” Chinese history is full of instances in which the votaries of Taoism, princes and hermits alike, followed with varied and interesting results the teachings of their creed. The tale will not be without its quota of instruction and amusement. It will be rich in anecdotes, allegories, and aphorisms. We would fain be on speaking terms with the delightful emperor who never died because he never lived. We may ride the wind with Liehtse and find it absolutely quiet because we ourselves are the wind, or dwell in mid-air with the Aged One of the Hoang-Ho, who lived betwixt Heaven and Earth because he was subject to neither the one nor the other. Even in that grotesque apology for Taoism which we find in China at the present day, we can revel in a wealth of imagery impossible to find in any other cult.






 ”Why do men and women like to advertise themselves so much? Is it not but an instinct derived from the days of slavery?”「なんでみんなそんなに広告好きなの?奴隷根性抜けてないんじゃないの?」と言われてしまえば返す言葉もございません.拝金主義?所詮亀吾郎法律事務所も俗人の集いなのかもしれない.でも俗人でない人っているのかしら.


Freude am Rühren かきまぜる喜び

The Book of Tea: 茶の本 Chapter III 第三章

Taoism and Zennism 道教と禅道

Photo by Caio on

Take eggs out from refrigerator, crack two or three of them and pour into bowl, then beat. Put a piece of butter into a flying-pan. Make a fire and melt it until the butter covers the surface. When the pan gets enough heated, pour beaten eggs into the pan, then stir them as fast as possible with your full energy.

When eggs become soft-scrambled, put away from the fire and let them cool. About 30 seconds of silence. Take off the remains of eggs on the edge of pan with spatula, at this time, you may mix in other ingredients. Put the pan on the fire again with a high heat, tidy up a shape like spindle. Use wrist pliably to turn over the cuisine on the pan, then serve it in a plate. Need ketchup? Help yourself.

This is an irreplaceable moment. If a stew is a long-distance race, this cuisine is a sprint. This is a race to the finish in an instant. Winner is for those who cook the dish better.

A hot omelette is always an outstanding masterpiece. Many will adore the creamy taste of omelette. The sauce of yolk overflows when corrupting the perfect creation, this is a breathtaking moment but also a painful time. The mild saltness of butter is awesome. You can put in sliced cheese, mushrooms, beacon, chopped vegetables are fantastic. minced meat are greatly welcomed. An omelette adopts every ingredients and embodies with itself. The definition of the legitimate omelette cannot be decided forever. because whoever the chef, such as the Spanish, the French, the Taiwanese, or the Iranian, always make excellent omelettes in their styles. Egg dishes were the beloved of people since the era of an ancient empire, they eagerly took pains and enjoyed the completion of recipe, by studying how to heat or to mix with other ingredients.









The connection of Zennism with tea is proverbial. We have already remarked that the tea-ceremony was a development of the Zen ritual. The name of Laotse, the founder of Taoism, is also intimately associated with the history of tea. It is written in the Chinese school manual concerning the origin of habits and customs that the ceremony of offering tea to a guest began with Kwanyin, a well-known disciple of Laotse, who first at the gate of the Han Pass presented to the “Old Philosopher” a cup of the golden elixir. We shall not stop to discuss the authenticity of such tales, which are valuable, however, as a confirming the early use of the beverage by the Taoists. Our interest in Taoism and Zennism here lies mainly in those ideas regarding life and art which are so embodied in what we call Teaism.

It is to be regretted that as yet there appears to be no adequate presentation of the Taoists and Zen doctrines in any foreign language, though we have had several laudable attempts.

Translation is always a treason, and as a Ming author observes, can at its best be only the reverse side of brocade, – all the threads are there, but not the subtlety of colour or design. But, after all, what great doctrine is there which is easy to expound? The ancient sages never put their teachings in systematic form. They spoke in paradoxes, for they were afraid of uttering half-truths. They began by talking like fools and ended by making their hearers wise. Laotse himself, with his quaint humour, says “If people of inferior intelligence hear of the Tao, they laugh immensely. It would be the Tao unless they laughed at it.”

The Tao literally means a Path. it has been severally translated as the Way, the Absolute, the Law, Nature, Supreme Reason, the Mode. These renderings are not incorrect, for the use of the term by the Taoists differs according to the subject-matter of the inquiry. Laotse himself spoke of it thus: “There is a thing which is all-containing, which was born before the existence of Heaven and Earth. How silent! How solitary! It stands alone and changes not. It revolves without danger to itself and is the mother of the universe. I do not know its name and so call it the Path. With reluctance I call it the Infinite. Infinity is the Fleeting, the Fleeting is the Vanishing, the vanishing is the Reverting.” The Tao is in the Passage rather than the Path. It is the spirit of Cosmic Change, – the eternal growth which returns upon itself to produce new forms. It recoils upon itself like the dragon, the beloved symbol of the Taoists. It folds and unfolds as do the clouds. The Tao might be spoken of as the Great Transition. Subjectivity it is the Mood of the Universe. Its Absolute is the Relative.

It should be remembered in the first place that Taoism, like its legitimate successor Zennism, represents the individualistic trend of the Southern Chinese mind in contradistinction to the communism of Northern China which expressed itself in Confucianism. The Middle Kingdom is as vast as Europe and has a differentiation of idiosyncrasies marked by the two great river systems which traverse it. The Yangtse-Kiang and Hoang-Ho are respectively the Mediterranean and the Baltic. Even to-day, in spite of centuries of unification, the Southern Celestial differs in his thoughts and beliefs from his Northern brother as a member of the Latin race differs from the Teuton. In ancient days when communication was even more difficult than at present, and especially during the feudal period, this difference in thought was most pronounced. The art and poetry of the one breathes an atmosphere entirely distinct from that of the other. In Laotse and his followers and in Kutsugen, the forerunner of the Yangtse-Kiang nature poets, we find an idealism quite inconsistent with the prosaic ethical notions of their contemporary northern writers. Laotse lived five centuries before the Christian Era.







The Book of Tea: 茶の本 其の弐 ③

Chapter II 第二章


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The tea-ideal of the Sungs differed from the Tangs even as their notion of life differed. They sought to actualise what their predecessors tried to symbolise. To the Neo-Confucian mind the cosmic law was not reflected in the phenomenal world, but the phenomenal world was the cosmic law itself. AEons were but moments – Nirvana always within grasp. The Taoist conception that immortality lay in the eternal change permeated all their modes of thought. It was the process, not the dead, which was interesting. It was the completing, not the completion, which was really vital. Man came thus at once face to face with nature. A new meaning grew into the art of life. The tea began to be not a potential pastime, but one of the methods of self-realisation. Wangyucheng eulogised tea as “flooding his soul like a direct appeal, that its delicate bitterness reminded him of the after-taste of a good counsel.” Sotumpa wrote of the strength of the immaculate purity in tea which defied corruption as a truly virtuous man. Among the Buddhists, the southern Zen sect, which incorporated so much of Taoist doctrines, formulated an elaborate ritual of tea. The monks gathered before the image of Bodhi Dharma and drank tea out of a single bowl with the profound formality of a holy sacrament. It was this Zen ritual which finally developed into the Tea-ceremony of Japan in the fifteenth century.


Unfortunately the sudden outburst of the Mongol tribes in the thirteenth century which resulted in the devastation and conquest of China under the barbaric rule of the Yuen Emperors, destroyed all the fruits of Sung culture. The native dynasty of the Mings which attempted re-nationalisation in the middle of the fifteenth century was harassed by internal troubles, and China again fell under the alien rule of the Manchus in the seventeenth century. Manners and customs changed to leave no vestige of the former times. The powdered tea is entirely forgotten. We find a Ming commentator at loss to recall the shape of the whisk mentioned in one of the Sung classics. Tea is now taken by sleeping the leaves in hot water in a bowl or cup. The reason why the Western world is innocent of the older method of drinking tea is explained by the fact that Europe knew it only at the close of the Ming dynasty.


To the latter-day Chinese tea is a delicious beverage, but not an ideal. The long woes of his country have robbed him of the zest for the meaning of life. He has become modern, that is to say, old and disenchanted. he has lost that sublime faith in illusions which constitutes the eternal youth and vigour of the poets and ancients. He is an eclectic and politely accepts the traditions of the universe. He toys with Nature, but does not condescend to conquer or worship her. His Leaf-tea is often wonderful with its flower-like aroma, but the romance of the Tang and Sung ceremonials are not to be found in his cup.


Japan, which followed closely on the footsteps of Chinese civilisation, has known the tea in all its three stages. As early as the year 729 we read of the Emperor Shomu giving tea to one hundred monks at his palace in Nara. The leaves were probably imported by our ambassadors to the Tang Court and prepared in the way then in fashion. In 801 the monk Saicho brought back some seeds and planted them in Yeisan. Many tea-gardens are heard of in the succeeding centuries, as well as the delight of the aristocracy and priesthood in the beverage. The Sung tea reached us in 1191 with the return of Yeisaizenji, who went there to study the southern Zen school. The new seeds which he carried home were successfully planted in three places, one of which, the Uji district near Kioto, bears still the name of producing the best tea in the world. The southern Zen spread with rapidity, and with it the tea-ritual and the tea-ideal of the Sung. By the fifteenth century, under the patronage of the Shogun, Ashikaga – Yoshimasa, the tea ceremony is fully constituted and made into an independent and secular performance. Since then Teaism is fully established in Japan. The use of the steeped tea of the later China is comparatively recent among us, being only known since the middle of the seventeenth century. It has replaced the powdered tea in ordinary consumption, though the latter still constitutes to hold its place as the teas.


It is in the Japanese tea ceremony that we see the culmination of tea-ideals. Our successful resistance of the Mongol invasion in 1281 had enabled us to carry on the Sung movement so disastrously cut off in China itself through the nomadic inroad. Tea with us became more than an idealisation of the form of drinking; it is a religion of the art of life. The beverage grew to be an excuse for the worship of purity and refinement, a sacred function at which the host and guest joined to produce for that occasion the utmost beatitude of the mundane. The tea-room was an oasis in the dreary waste of existence where weary travellers could meet to drink from the common spring of art-appreciation. The ceremony was an improvised drama whose plot was about the tea, the flowers, and the painting. Not a colour to disturb the tone of the room, not a sound to mar the rhythm of things, not a gesture to obtrude on the harmony, not a word to break the unity of the surroundings, all movements to be performed simply and naturally – such were the aims of the tea ceremony. And strangely enough it was often successful. A subtle philosophy lay behind it all. Teaism was Taoism in disguise.



The Book of Tea: 茶の本 其の弐②

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The fourth chapter is devoted to the enumeration and description of the twenty-four members of the tea-equipage, beginning with the tripod brazier and ending with the bamboo cabinet for containing all these utensils. Here we notice Luwuh’s predilection for Taoist symbolism. Also it is interesting to observe in this connection the influence of tea on Chinese ceramics. The Celestial porcelain, as is well known, had its origin in an attempt to reproduce the exquisite shade of jade, resulting, in the Tang dynasty, in the blue glaze of the south, and the white glaze of the north. Luwuh considered the blue as the ideal colour for the tea-cup, as it lent additional greenness to the beverage, whereas the white made it look pinkish and distasteful. It was because he used cake-tea. Later on, when the tea-masters of Sung took to the powdered tea, they preferred heavy bowls of blue-black and dark brown. The Mings, with their steeped tea, rejoiced in light ware of white porcelain.


In the fifth chapter Luwuh describes the method of making tea. He eliminates all ingredients except salt. He dwells also on the much-discussed question of the choice of water and the degree of boiling it. According to him, the mountain spring is the best, the river water and the spring water come next in the order of excellence. There are three stages of boiling: the first boil is when the little bubbles like the eye of fishes swim on the surface; the second boil is when the bubbles are crystal beads rolling in a fountain; the third boil is when the billows surge wildly in the kettle. The Cake-tea is roasted before the fire until it becomes soft like a baby’s arm and is shredded into powder between pieces of fine paper. Salt is put in the first boil, the tea in the second. At the third boil, a dipperful of cold water is poured into kettle to settle the tea and revive “youth of the water.” Then the beverage was poured into cups and drunk. O nectar! The filmy leaflet hung like scaly clouds in a serene sky or floated like waterlilies on emerald streams. It was of such a beverage that Lotung, a Tang poet, wrote: “The first cup moistens my lips and throat, the second cup breaks my loneliness, the third cup searches my barren entrail but to find therein some five thousand volumes of odd ideographs. The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration, – all the wrong of life passes away through my pores. At the fifth cup I am purified; the sixth cup calls me to the realms of immortals. The seventh cup – ah, but I could take no more! I only feel the breath of cool wind that rise in my sleeves. Where is Horaisan? Let me ride on this sweet breeze and waft a way thither.”


The remaining chapters of the “Chaking” treat of the vulgarity of the ordinary methods of tea-drinking, a historical summary of illustrious tea-drinkers, the famous tea plantations of China, possible variations of the tea service and illustrations of the tea-utensils. The last is unfortunately lost.


The appearance of the “Chaking” must have created considerable sensation at the time. Luwuh was befriended by the Emperor Taisung (763-779), and his fame attracted many followers. Some exquisites were said to have been able to detect the tea made by Luwuh from that of his diciples. One mandarin has his name immortalised by his failure to appreciate the tea of this great master.


In the Sung dynasty the whipped tea came into fashion and created the second school of Tea. The leaves were ground to fine powder in a small stone mill, and the preparation was whipped in hot water by a delicate whisk made of split bamboo. The new process led to some change in the tea-equipage of Luwuh, as well as the choice of leaves. Salt was discarded forever. The enthusiasm of the Sung people for a tea knew no bounds. Epicures vied with each other in discovering new varieties, and regular tournaments were held to decide their superiority. The Emperor Liasung(1101-1124). who was too great an artist to be a well-behaved monarch, lavished his treasures on the attainment of rare species. He himself wrote a dissertation on the twenty kinds of tea, among which he prizes the “white tea” as of the rarest and finest quality.


The Book of Tea: 茶の本 其の弐

Chapter II 第二章

The Schools of Tea 茶の流派

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TEA is a work of art and needs a master hand to bring out its noblest qualities. We have good and bad tea, as we have good and bad paintings – generally the latter. There is no single recipe for making the perfect tea, as there are no rules for producing a Titian or Sesson. Each preparation of the leaves has its individuality, its special affinity with water and heat, its hereditary memories to recall, its own method of telling a story. The truly beautiful must be always in it. How much do we not suffer through the constant failure of society to recognise this simple and fundamental law of art and life; Lichihlai, a Sung poet, has sadly remarked that there were three most deplorable things in the world: the spoiling of fine youths through false education, the degradation of fine paintings through vulgar admiration, and the utter waste of fine tea through incompetent manipulation.


Like Art, Tea has its periods and its schools. Its evolution may be roughly divided into three main stages: the Boiled Tea, the Whipped Tea, and the Steeped Tea. We modern belong to the last school. These several methods of appreciating the beverage are indicative of the spirit of the age in which they prevailed. For life is an expression, our unconscious actions the constant betrayal of our innermost thought. Confucius said that “man hideth not.” Perhaps we reveal ourselves too much in small things because we have so little of the great to conceal. The tiny incidents of daily routine are as much a commentary of racial ideals as the highest flight of philosophy or poetry. Even as the difference in favourite vintage marks the separate idiosyncrasies of different periods and nationalities of Europe, so the Tea-ideals characterise the various moods of Oriental culture. The Cake-tea which was boiled, the Powdered-tea which was whipped, Leaf-tea which was steeped, mark the distinct emotional impulses of the Tang, the Sung and the Ming dynasties of China. If we were inclined to borrow the much-abused terminology of art-classification, we might designate them respectively, the Classic, the Romantic, and the Naturalistic schools of Tea.


The tea-plant, native of southern China, was known from very early times to Chinese botany and medicine. It is alluded to in the classics under the various names of Tou, Tseh, Chung, Kha, and Ming, and was highly prized for possessing the virtues of relieving fatigue, delighting the soul, strengthening the will, and repairing the eyesight. It was not only administered as an internal dose, but often applied externally in form of paste to alleviate rheumatic pains. The Taoists claimed it as an important ingredient of elixir of immortality. The Buddhists used it extensively to prevent drowsiness during their long hours of meditation.


By the fourth and fifth centuries Tea became a favourite beverage among the inhabitants of the Yangtse-Kiang valley. It was about this time that the modern ideograph Cha was coined, evidently a corruption of the classic Tou. The poets of the southern dynasties have left some fragments of their fervent adoration of the “froth of the liquid jade.” Then emperors used bestow some rare preparation of the leaves on their high ministers as a reward for eminent services. Yet the methods of drinking tea at this stage was primitive in the extreme, The leaves were steamed, crushed in a mortar, made into a cake, and boiled together with rice, ginger, salt, orange peel, spices, milk, and sometimes with onions! The custom obtains at the present day among the Thibetaus and various Mongolian tribes, who make a curious syrup of these ingredients. The use of lemon slices by the Russians, who learned to take tea from the Chinese caravansaries, points to the survival of the ancient method.


It needed the genius of the Tang dynasty to emancipate Tea from its crude state and lead to its final idealisation. With Luwuh in the middle of the eighth century we have our first apostle of tea. He was born in an age when Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism were seeking mutual synthesis. The pantheistic symbolism of the time was urging one to mirror the Universal in the Particular. Luwuh, a poet, saw in the Tea-service the same harmony and order which reigned through all things. In his celebrated work, the “Chaking” (The Holy Scripture of Tea) he formulated the Code of Tea. He has since been worshiped as the tutelary god of the Chinese tea merchants.


The “Chaking” consists of three volumes and ten chapters. In the first chapter Luwuh treats of the nature of the tea-plant, in the second of the implements for gathering the leaves, in the third of the selection of the leaves. According to him the best quality of the leaves must have “creases like the leathern boot of Tartar horsemen, curl like the dewlap of a mighty bullock, unfold like a mist rising out of ravine, gleam like a lake touched by zephyr, and be wet and soft like fine earth newly swept by rain.”




続々 The Book of Tea: 茶の本

Chaper I 第一章

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The earliest record of tea in European writing is said to be found in the statement of an Arabian traveller, that after the year 879 the main sources of revenue in Canton were the duties on salt and tea. Marco Polo records the deposition of a Chinese minister of finance in 1285 for his arbitrary augmentation of the tea-taxes. It was at the period of the great discoveries that the European people began to know more about the extreme Orient. At the end of the sixteenth century the Hollanders brought the news that a pleasant drink was in the East from the leaves of a bush. The travellers Giovanni Batista Ramusio (1559), L. Almeida (1576), Maffeno (1588), Tareira (1610), also mentioned tea. 1 In the last-named year ships of the Dutch East India Company brought the first tea into Europe. It was known in France in 1636, and reached Russia in 1638.2 England welcomed it in 1650 and spoke of it as “That excellent and by all physicians approved China drink, called by the Chineans Tcha, and by other nations Tay, alias Tee.


Like all the good things of the world, the propaganda of Tea met with opposition. Heretics like Henry Saville (1678) denounced drinking it as a filthy custom. Jonas Hanway (Essay on Tea, 1756) said that men seemed to lose their stature and comeliness, women their beauty through the use of tea. Its cost at the start (about fifteen or sixteen shillings a pound) forbade popular consumption, and made it “regalia for high treatments and entertainments, presents being made thereof to princes and grandees.” Yet in spite of such drawbacks tea-drinking spread with marvellous rapidity. The coffee-houses of London in the early half of the eighteenth century became, in fact, tea-houses, the resort of wits like Addison and Steele, who beguiled themselves over their “dish of tea.” The beverage soon became a necessary of life – a taxable matter. We are reminded in this connection what an important part it plays in modern history. Colonial America resigned herself to oppression until human endurance gave way before the heavy duties laid on Tea. American independence dates from the throwing of tea-chests into Boston harbour.


There is a subtle charm in the taste of tea which makes it irresistible and capable of idealisation. Western humourists were not slow to mingle the fragrance of their thought with its aroma. It has not the arrogance of wine, the self-consciousness of coffee, nor the simpering innocence of cocoa. Already in 1711, says the Spectator: “I would therefore in a particular manner recommend these may speculations to all well-regulated families that set apart an hour every morning for tea, bread and butter; and would earnestly advise them for their good to order this paper to be punctually served up and to be looked upon as a part of the tea-equipage.” Samuel Johnson draws his own portrait as “a hardened and shameless tea-drinker, who for twenty years diluted his meals with only the infusion of the fascinating plant; who with tea amused the evening, with tea solaced the midnight, and with tea welcomed the morning.”


Charles Lamb, a professed devotee, sounded the true note of Teaism when he wrote that the greatest pleasure he knew was to do a good action by stealth, and to have found it out by accident. For Teaism is the art of concealing beauty that you may discover it, of suggesting what you dare not reveal. It is the noble secret of laughing at yourself, calmly yet thoroughly. All genuine humorists may in this sense be called tea-philosophers, – Thackeray, for instance, and, of course, Shakespeare. The poets of the Decadence(when was not the world in decadence?), in their protests against materialism, have, to a certain extent, also opened the way to Teaism. Perhaps nowadays it is our demure contemplation of the Imperfect that the West and the East can meet in mutual consolation.


The Taoists relate that at the great beginning of the No-Beginning, Spirit and Matter met in mortal combat. At last the Yellow Emperor, the Sun of Heaven, triumphed over Shuhyung, the demon of darkness and earth. The Titan, in his death agony, struck his head against the solar vault and shivered the blue dome of jade into fragments. The stars lost their nests, the moon wandered aimlessly among the wild chasms of the night. In despair the Yellow Emperor sought far and wide for the repairer of the Heavens. He had not to search in vain. Out of the Eastern sea rose a queen, the divine Niuka, horncrowned and dragon-tailed, resplendent in her armour of fire. She welded the five-coloured rainbow in her magic cauldron and rebuilt the Chinese sky. But it is also told that Niuka forgot to fill two tiny cervices in the blue firmament. Thus began the dualism of love – two souls rolling through space and never at rest until they join together to complete the universe. Everyone has to build anew his sky of hope and peace.


The heaven of modern humanity is indeed shattered world in the Cyclopean struggle for wealth and power. The world is groping in the shadow of egotism and vulgarity. Knowledge is bought through a bad conscience, benevolence practised for the sake of utility. The East and West, like two dragons tossed in a sea of ferment, in vain strive to regain the jewel of life. We need a Niuka again to repair the grand devastations; we await the great Avater. Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettles. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.


1. Paul Krannsel: Dissertations, Berlin, 1902.

2. Mercurius: Politics, 1656.


続 The Book of Tea: 茶の本

Chapter I 第一章

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Why not amuse yourselves at our expense? Asia would returns the compliment. There would be further food for merriment if you were to know all that we have imagined and written about you. All the glamour of the perspective is there, all the unconscious homage of wonder, all the silent resentment of the new and undefined. You have been loaded with virtues too refined to be envied, and accused of crimes too picturesque to be condemned. Our writers in the past – the wise men who knew – informed us that you had bushy tails somewhere hidden in your garments, and often dined off a fricassée of newborn babes! Nay, we had something worse against you: we used to think you the most impracticable people on the earth, for you were said to preach what you never practised.


Such misconceptions are fast vanishing amongst us. Commerce has forced the European tongues on many an Eastern port. Asiatic youths are flocking to Western colleges for the equipment of modern education. Our insight does not penetrate your culture deeply, but at least we are willing to learn. Some of my compatriots have adopted too much of your customs and too much of your etiquette, in the delusion that the acquisition of stiff collars and tall silk hats comprised the attainment of your civilisation. Pathetic and deplorable as such affectations are, they evince our willingness to approach the West on our knees. Unfortunately the Western attitude is unfavourable to the understanding of the East. The Christian missionary goes to impart, but not to receive. Your information is based on the meagre translations of our immense literature, if not on the unreliable anecdotes of passing travellers. It is rarely that the chivalrous pen of a Lafcadio Hearn or that of the author of “The Web of Indian Life” enlivens the Oriental darkness with the touch of our own sentiments.


Perhaps I betray my own ignorance of Tea Cult by being so outspoken. Its very spirit of politeness exacts that you say what you are expected to say, and no more. But I am not to be a polite Teaist. So much harm has been done already by the mutual misunderstanding of the New World and the Old, that one need not apologise for contributing his tithe to the furtherance of a better understanding. The beginning of the twentieth century would have been spared the spectacle of sanguinary warfare if Russia had condescended to know Japan better. What dire consequences to humanity lie in the contemptuous ignoring of Eastern problems! European imperialism, which does not disdain to raise the absurd cry of the Yellow Peril, fails to realise that Asia may also awaken to the cruel sense of the White Disaster. You may laugh at us for having “too much tea,” but may we not suspect you of the West have “no tea” in your constitution?


Let us stop the continents from hurling epigrams at each other, and be sadder if not wiser by the mutual gain of half a hemisphere. We have developed along different lines, but there is no reason why one should not supplement the other. You have gained expansion at the cost of restlessness; we have created a harmony which is weak against aggression. Will you believe it? – the East is better off in some respects than the West!


Strangely enough humanity has so far met in the tea-cup. It is the only Asiatic ceremonial which commands universal esteem. The white man has scoffed at our religion and our morals, but has accepted the brown beverage without hesitation. The afternoon tea is now an important function in Western society. In the delicate clatter of trays and saucers, in the soft rustle of feminine hospitality, in the common catechism about cream and sugar, we know that the Worship of Tea is established beyond question. The philosophic resignation of the guest to the fate awaiting him in the dubious decoction proclaims that in this single instance the Oriental spirit reigns supreme.