Zen Buddhism and the Chinese methods of preparing powdered tea were brought to Japan in 1191 by the monk Eisai. 825 years later, there is a huge line of Chinese kids outside of tsujiri, the new tea shop in the new Little Japan, which happens to be just east of Chinatown. When I dropped him off at the Grayhound station on Saturday afternoon, I thought about getting something at tsujiri but was not in the mood to battle the crowds. To make up for that lost opportunity, I grabbed itoen shake and make when I popped by T&T today. So here I am blogging and drinking matcha.
Anna Willmann: The tea ceremony as it is known today emerged in the sixteenth century. It was an elite artistic pursuit that provided a forum for the rulers of Japan, the warrior elite, and wealthy merchants to forge and reinforce social ties. The first ceramic utensils appreciated in this context were ancient ceramics from China that had been handed down in Japan for generations (91.1.226). Imbued with the potency of age and the glamour of ancient Chinese civilization, which the Japanese had long revered as a source of culture, these objects were treasured in Japan. A shift occurred in the mid-sixteenth century, pioneered by influential tea masters such as Sen no Rikyû (1522–1591). These tea masters began to incorporate rustic ceramic vessels from Korea (1983.557.2) and Japan (25.215.47a,b), and found beauty in unrefined, natural, or imperfect forms.
All cultures borrow from other cultures. What I find amazing about modern Japanese culture is not so much that it has helped preserve ancient Chinese practices but that it has made these practices simpler over time. Most things seem to become more complicated over time as people try to make them better. The Japanese essentially reinvented Chinese practices by applyng the teachings of Zen Buddhism.
Linda Brown Holt: To many observers, the convergence of Buddhism and Taoism in China and its later refinement in Japan produced the philosophy we know today as Zen. // Linssen considers the “superior” forms of Buddhism in general and Zen in particular as “maieutic, rather like that of Socrates….(Socrates) and the Zen masters tend to exhaust the possibilities of thought by obliging it to demonstrate to itself by its own means, its powerlessness to discover the Real. When thought realizes its impotence to ‘give birth’ to the essence of things, it is silent; and in this very silence the ‘giving birth’ is realized.”
Last night, I saw Hou Hsiao Hsien’s Assassin and thought: this must be shot in Japan because where in China can one find rustic Tang dynasty architecture?