Teaism has shaped all aspects of Japanese life. The simplicity of tea infuses Japanese architecture and art, as well as its spiritual institutions. Okakura Kakuzo s book-length essay about tea and its role in Japanese culture was written in English and intended for the Western reader.
In religion the Future is behind us. In art the present is the eternal. The tea-masters held that real appreciation of art is only possible to those who make of it a living influence. Thus they sought to regulate their daily life by the high standard of refinement which obtained in the tea-room. In all circumstances serenity of mind should be maintained, and conversation should be conducted as never to mar the harmony of the surroundings. The cut and color of the dress, the poise of the body, and the manner of walking could all be made expressions of artistic personality. These were matters not to be lightly ignored, for until one has made himself beautiful he has no right to approach beauty. Thus the tea-master strove to be something more than the artist,—art itself. It was the Zen of aestheticism. Perfection is everywhere if we only choose to recognise it. Rikiu loved to quote an old poem which says: "To those who long only for flowers, fain would I show the full-blown spring which abides in the toiling buds of snow-covered hills."