About Okakura Kakuzō, the author of The Book of Tea
Birth: Yokohama, 02/14/1862
Death: Akakura’s Onsen, 02/09/1913
Okakura Kakuzō was born approximately when Japan reopened to the world (1860). Her father, a high-ranking samurai, had come to Yokohama and opened silk trading stores there. Kakuzō was thus able to get to very young English, a language he will soon master perfectly.
After his mother died, his father remarried; Kakuzō spent seven years in a Buddhist temple, deepening his knowledge of Chinese classics. He was also interested in art: Japanese painting, composition of Chinese poems.
His professor of philosophy at the University of Tokyo, the American Ernest Fenollosa, played a very important role in his life: helped by Okakura (for translation), Fenollosa collected works of art and studied texts dealing with Japanese aesthetics. Thanks to him, Okakura made relationships in American circles.
Later, he was responsible for founding a national art school, then became curator of the Imperial Museum. He later resigned, visited China, India, Europe, and in 1904 went to the United States to take up a post in the Chinese and Japanese departments of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
With his in-depth knowledge of western and eastern cultures, he wrote several works in English intended to introduce eastern culture to westerners: “The Ideals of the East”, 1903), “The Awakening of Japan”, 1904, and his most famous book, “The Book of Tea”, 1906.