Books on the Japanese Tea Ceremony

The following books are the most popular among beginning and advanced students of the Tea Ceremony. Also for those who are not particularly interested in the Japanese tea ceremony, these books will give those who have a general interest in the Japanese culture lots of fascinating eye-openers with lots of information on the Japanese culture. Since the tea ceremony involves many other forms of Japanese arts such as calligraphy, flower arrangement, ceramics, and the wearing of traditional Japanese clothes the Kimono and the Hakama, it is useful to read a book on the tea ceremony for everyone living in Japan or studying about Japan.

Chado, The Way of Tea: A Japanese Tea Master’s Almanac, by Sasaki Sanmi

This opulent and encyclopedic volume presents the first translation of a Japanese tea master’s saijiki into English. The book has a chapter for each month of the year, as well as some introductory material that includes glossaries of names and terms. Each monthly chapter contains the following nine sections: Chashu (Features of the Month), Gyôji (Events of the Month), Kishin (Memorial Days), Chabana (Flowers for Tea), Kashi (Cakes), Kaiseki (Meals for Tea), Shokumi (Foods for the Month), Kigo (Words for the Month), and Meisû (Single Items). For haiku poets, the Kigo section will probably be of most interest. There are also fifty-seven pages of appendices, with tables of such things as "Monthly Names for Water" and "Names of Monthly Trees."

The book contains translations of both haiku and waka. The poems are presented in the original Japanese, rômaji, and English. The translators write, "The translations are not in poetic form because our primary aim has been to make the meaning of the poem clear. To achieve this, in many cases we have sacrificed beauty and rhythm for clarity." This is a somewhat disappointing approach; one is particularly puzzled by the suggestion that poetic translations are by their nature unclear.

The translations of haiku are presented in one or two lines of prose, mostly as complete sentences.
Chado - The Way of Tea A Japanese Tea Master's Almanac

The Japanese Tea Ceremony, by: Seno Tanaka

The Japanese tea ceremony, or cha-no-yu, is one of the last vestiges of an older, gentler era. Today, it resonates as a metaphor for ancient Japanese society.

First published in 1933, this classic remains the gold standard for books on the five-centuries-old tea ceremony. Illustrated with traditional drawings of furniture and utensils, tearoom architecture, garden design, floor and ground plans, and beautiful black and white photographs of famous tea bowls, teahouses, and gardens, Cha-No-Yu will enlighten the reader to the intimate aspects of ancient Japanese philosophy, history, and culture. Contains and extensive glossary of utensils, in alphabetical order, from English to Japanese and from Japanese to English. Chronology of Japanese history and tea masters.
The Tea Ceremony

CHA-NO-YU, Japanese Tea Ceremony, by: A. L. Sadler

* Descriptions of the many disciplines contained within the broader framework of Cha-no-yu, including art, architecture, gardening, and exquisite handicrafts.
* The experiences of masters of the art over the centuries.
* Histories of the various schools and traditions of the art of tea.

Abundantly illustrated with drawings and photographs of every aspect of the tea ceremony, CHA-NO-YU: The Japanese Tea Ceremony takes the reader on a complete tour of tea ceremony furniture and utensils, architecture and gardens, and numerous other features of Cha-no-yu. Photos of famous tea bowls, teahouses, and gardens reveal the exquisite artistry of the cult of tea. CHA-NO-YU: The Japanese Tea Ceremony remains the most comprehensive and detailed work on the tea ceremony in English.
Japanese Tea Ceremony: Cha-No-Yu (Tuttle Classics)

The Book Of Tea, by: Kakuzo Okakura

The Book of Tea has served for more than a century as one of the most perceptive introductions to Asian life and thought in English. Publication of the book was a pioneering effort in the cultural bridge-building between East and West. Kakuzo Okakura perceived chanoyu-literally, "the way of tea"-as a form of spiritual culture, a discipline that transforms itself into the Art of Life. In writing of chanoyu, his concern was the broad current of Asian culture flowing eastward from India, and its potential contribution to the culture of all humankind. Buddhism, Taoism, Zen, and Chinese and Japanese aesthetics are discussed, giving voice to traditional Asian values and ideals that had been little recognized in the West. Thus, he sought to convey the spirit of chanoyu as a crystallization of the cultural life of the East.

Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennoble it into a religion of aestheticism --Teaism.
The Book of Tea

Tea Life, Tea Mind by: Soshitsu Sen

This 15th-generation tea master from Japan has a universal message that he takes everywhere he travels. The message is simple: if people can sit together and have a bowl of tea, they can resolve conflicts, mend discords and learn to live with each other. Who could not agree with this powerful message?

The Japanese way of tea, chanoyu, is a beautifully choreographed ceremony in which both the host and the guests play particular parts. One comes away with a feeling of harmony, respect, purity and tranquility.

To illustrate this, Sen writes of a disciple who once asked Sen Rikyu, What are the most important things that must be understood and kept in mind at a tea gathering?" Rikyu replied, "Make a delicious bowl of tea; lay the charcoal so that it heats the water; arrange the flowers as they are in the field; in the summer suggest coolness, in winter, warmth; do everything ahead of time; prepare for rain; and give those with whom you find yourself every consideration.

"If you do these things well," Rikyu continued, "I shall become your disciple."
Tea Life, Tea Mind

Rediscovering Rikyu, by: Herbert Plutschow

The Japanese approach to Tea and the Tea Ceremony itself has always fascinated Westerners and although there are several key historic works on the subject (including the celebrated Book of Tea and more recently, Chado: The Way of Tea) this is the first study to look at how the culture and politics of Tea in Japan actually began with Rikyu, the famous sixteenth-century master of tea. Although the author is leading US scholar in Japanese Studies, the book is sensitively written to appeal to a wider audience.
Rediscovering Rikyu and the Beginnings of the Japanese Tea Ceremony

The Japanese Way of Tea, by: Sen XV Soshitsu

It is certainly true that one of the most well-known elements of Japanese culture in Western countries is the art of Chanoyu. But it is doubtful that Westerners understand the quintessence of this very special Japanese art. Of course there are many Western publications even in German about this topic, but the explanations they provide are mostly insufficient. The typical Western observer sees Japanese culture, art, literature, music, etc., as exotic; this is especially true with the art of tea as it is an art form that is confined to a rigid frame of rituals. The "harmony" of the art form is of course widely known, but what is not widely known is that there is also the possibility of freedom within the art and that this freedom marks the highest degree of chanoyu. When the art form is described from a Western perspective, there is a strong tendency to use the word "ceremony," which implies that there is a fixed ritual in adoration or worship of something absolute or divine. Westerners seem to imagine "ceremony" as fixed in a strong religious order and rigorous ecclesiastical system from which it cannot be changed. This book illustrates the changes over many centuries and the flexibility interwoven in this art of making tea.
The Japanese Way of Tea: From Its Origins in China to Sen Rikyu

Tea in Japan, by: Paul H. Varley

This book on Chanoyu is a collection of essays written on the history and the development of the Japanese tea ceremony. It takes us back to the beginning of drinking tea in the eight century, and from there leads us through various events and changes in the way tea was consumed in Japan. Lead by tea masters and important political figures of Japan, the Japanese tea ceremony was developed into an aesthetic past time for everyone to enjoy. Various scholars on Japanese history and some specialized in the Japanese tea ceremony came together in hawaii to discuss the various aspects such as Wabi, Sen no Rikyu, and important historical events. Together they have written various essays which are printed in this wonderful book.
Tea in Japan: Essays on the History of Chanoyu

Chado: The Japanese Way of Tea, by: Sioshitsu Sen

Well-written and well-illustrated, Chado briefly covers, Philosophy and History, while the majority of the book focuses on the more practical aspects of hospitality: gardens,teahouses, utensils, etiquette procedures for guest and host. Color and black and white photographs illustrate a variety of the utensils employed in Chado. Examples of scrolls, flower arrangements, and sweets accompany explanations of their use in conjunction with the seasons. Guest procedures for a standard tea gathering cover the invitation, appropriate attire, articles to be taken,arrival, the meal, viewing the arranging of the charcoal,intermission, thick tea, thin tea, and departure. The final chapter contains a detailed explanation of procedures called "wari geiko." Whether or not the reader is just beginning the study of tea, or an advanced student in need of a reference for review, This book comes highly recommend.
The Japanese Way of Tea: From Its Origins in China to Sen Rikyu

Tea and Buddhism. Chado: The Way of Tea as a Buddhist Path

Based on his own experiences and training in the Way of Tea and Buddhism in Japan, the author takes us on a fascinating journey through a spiritually and academically thoughtful text and more than 30 beautiful photographs.

This book describes the world and history of the Way of Tea, explains its utensils and etiquette, and shows why it is a spiritual Buddhist discipline, promoting harmony, respect, purity, tranquility, imperfect beauty, and egoless unconditioned loving-kindness. The book concludes with a moving integrative conclusion, entitled ePeace through the Way of Teaf, showing that through the practice of the Way of Tea, genuine personal harmony and world peace can be achieved.

Zen-Buddhist monk Ryofu Pussel is living in Japan since 1992, and is one of the very few Westerners, who have completed their studies and have received both: teaching authorization from the Urasenke School of Tea in Kyoto, as well as from his Japanese Zen master.

Ryofu Pussel is a member of the Tankokai (Professional Association of Tea Teachers of the Urasenke School of Tea, Kyoto, Japan), the International Association of Buddhist Studies, and the UK Association of Buddhist Studies. He is author of several other Buddhist books.
Wind in the Pines: Classic Writings of the Way of Tea as a Buddhist Path

Books related to the Tea Ceremony

As mentioned before, the tea ceremony compells more than just the preparation of Matcha green tea. The host must study a wide range of traditional arts to serve the most enjoyable bowl of tea to the guests. A student of the tea ceremony will devote his or her entire life to studying many details of the Japanese traditional arts. I have tried to collect some book titles here which introduce various Japanese arts for further reading.


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