Okakura Kakuzō

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Okakura Kakuzō

Okakura Kakuzō (岡倉 覚三, February 14, 1862 – September 2, 1913) (also known as 岡倉 天心 Okakura Tenshin) was a Japanese scholar who contributed to the development of arts in Japan. Outside Japan, he is chiefly remembered today as the author of The Book of Tea.


  • 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 torch of our own sentiments.
  • When will the West understand, or try to understand, the East? We Asiatics are often appalled by the curious web of facts and fancies which has been woven concerning us. We are pictured as living on the perfume of the lotus, if not on mice and cockroaches. It is either impotent fanaticism or else abject voluptuousness. Indian spirituality has been derided as ignorance, Chinese sobriety as stupidity, Japanese patriotism as the result of fatalism.
  • Tea is a work of art and needs a master hand to bring out its noblest qualities.
  • It (Teaism) is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.
    • The Book of Tea
  • Asia is one. The Himalayas divide, only to accentuate, two mighty civilisations, the Chinese with its communism of Confucius, and the Indian with its individualism of the Vedas. But not even the snowy barriers can interrupt for one moment that broad expanse of love for the Ultimate and Universal, which is the common thought-inheritance of every Asiatic race, enabling them to produce all the great religions of the world, and distinguishing them from those maritime peoples of the Mediterranean and the Baltic, who love to dwell on the Particular, and to search out the means, not the end, of life.
    • The Ideals of the East with Special Reference to the Art of Japan, 1903. Okakura, Kakuzō (1903). The Ideals of the East with Special Reference to the Art of Japan. London: J. Murray. p. 1.
  • We catch a glimpse of the great river of science which never ceases to flow in India. For India has carried and scattered the data of intellectual progress for the whole world, ever since the pre-Buddhist period when she produced the Sankhya philosophy and the atomic theory; the fifth century, when her mathematics and astronomy find their blossom in Arya Bhatta; the seventh when Brahmagupta uses his highly-developed Algebra and makes astronomical observations; the twelfth, brilliant with the glory of Bhaskaracharya, and his famous daughter, down to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries themselves with Ram Chandra the mathematician and Jagdish Chandra Bose the physicist."
    • Quoted from Gewali, Salil (2013). Great Minds on India. New Delhi: Penguin Random House.
  • "Such a faith in its early energy and enthusiasm was the natural incentive to that great scientific age which was to produce astronomers like Aryabhatta, discovering the revolution of the earth on its own axis, and his not less illustrious successor Varamihua; who brought Hindu medicine to its height, perhaps under Susruta; and which finally gave to Arabia the knowledge with which she was later to fructify Europe."
    • Okakura, Kakuzo The Ideals of the East, with Special Reference to the Art of Japan ISBN 4925080261.
  • "The religion and culture of China are undoubtedly of Hindu origin. At one time in the single province of Loyang there were more than three thousand Indian monks and ten thousand Indian families to impress their national religion and art on Chinese soil. "
    • Okakura, Kakuzo The Ideals of the East, with Special Reference to the Art of Japan ISBN 4925080261.

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