Monday, January 14, 2008

Book Review: The Tea Ceremony

Today I thought I would review a book. I just finished reading The Tea Ceremony by Sen'o Tanaka/Sendo Tanaka. I read this not knowing much about the history behind it and the setting it takes place in. This book gives a detailed history of the origins of tea ceremony without dragging too much through detail. It separates the book into a few major sections. History, Aesthetic, and the actual ceremony. The last section is broken into a few smaller sections.

The history: This section starts with a brief introduction of tea in japan up until the warring states period. It then describes the changes made at the time along with the development of the tea ceremony.

The Aesthetic: This section describes the nature of the tea ceremony and what it strives to signify. This is a very difficult concept, but the book describes it well. It also includes a section on the architecture of the tea garden and the tea hut.

The Ceremony: This section describes the instruments used in the ceremony, the procedure to make thin and thick tea, the etiquette for the guests, and what the ceremony represents today. This section of the book was by far the most interesting of the three.

Overall I found this to be a very informative book, it's not too detailed to the point of being boring so I rather enjoyed the read. It provides a significant amount of detail into the history of the tea ceremony and the meaning of it. I would highly recommend this book if you are interested in learning about the tea ceremony. If you are looking for a book that is going to describe in detail how to make a good bowl of matcha though you're out of luck here. It actually does not talk much at all about the actual making of the matcha, but rather as the title suggests the actual ceremony.

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