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The Great Wave: Gilded Age Misfits, Japanese Eccentrics, and the Opening of Old JapanThe Great Wave: Gilded Age Misfits, Japanese Eccentrics, and the Opening of Old Japan
Christopher Benfey


先日紹介した本The Great Wave: Gilded Age Misfits, Japanese Eccentrics, and the Opening of Old Japanには、岡倉天心も取り上げられています。例の有名なエピソードが載っていました。

Okakura’s theatrical practice of wearing only Japanese clothing in the West, counter to the Meiji practice of adopting Western formal attire, attracted much notice from an admiring press. Okakura once remarked that unless one's English was flawless—as his was— one should wear Western clothes in the West. An anecdote testifying to his dexterity with English is recorded from his New York sojourn in 1904. Okakura and his companions in their traditional Japanese dress were stopped by a wag in the street who asked: "What sort of 'nese are you people? Are you Chinese. or Japanese. or Javanese?" Okakura responded. " We are Japanese gentlemen. But what sort of ' key' are you? Are you a Yankee, or a donkey, or a monkey?


1 skill and speed in doing something with your hands:
Computer games can improve children's manual dexterity.
2 skill in using words or your mind:
his charm and verbal dexterity

以前このブログで岡倉天心のAwakening of Japanを紹介させていただいた時、現在の北朝鮮のような語り口を感じた自分がいました。今回、Great Waveという本を読んで、そのような印象はあながち的外れでもないと感じました。著者はあの本をpropagandaに過ぎないと評しています。

But such arguments remained little more than propaganda, an outsider's harangues without a strategy for infusion and infiltration. What Okakura lacked was something to give focus and force to his thinking. what his friend and admirer T. S. Eliot was to call an objective correlative.


This link of tea and national independence sets off a bell—a Liberty Bell — in Okakura’s mind. In a vivid cultural rhyme, he draws a direct connection between Boston Tea Party and the origins of the tea ceremony in Japan. “Colonial America,” he remarks, “resigned herself to oppression until human endurance gave way before the heavy duties laid on Tea. American independence dates from the throwing of tea-chests into Boston harbour.” As a performance of independence and resistance to foreign control, then, tea has a special and parallel meaning for the two young imperial powers. Japan and the United States. And, by extension, the "soft rustle of feminine hospitality" at Boston tea parties is intimately linked to the code of samurai.

The Book of Tea suggested to Boston audiences that aestheticism and militarism, beauty and war, might be creatively combined. (Even the flowers in the tea ceremony are impressed into battle: "Some flowers glory in death—certainly the Japanese cherry blossoms do, as they freely surrender themselves to the winds") Okakura closes his book with an account of the death of Rikyu, the seventeenth-century Buddhist monk who is regarded as the founder of the tea ceremony as we know it. As Okakura tells the story, the death of Rikyu evokes both the martyrdoms of Socrates and Jesus and the death of Lincoln in his sacrifice for national reconciliation. Unjustly accused of plotting against his patron, the great warlord HIdeyoshi, Rikyu performs one final tea ceremony which his disciples before ending his life.

確かにBoston Tea Partyの事件もありましたし、アメリカ人はBook of Teaをまた違った印象で読むのかもしれません。