Thursday, March 22, 2007

Noriko Murai Discusses 'Okakura's Way of Tea,' March 28

Chestertown, MD, March 22, 2007 — A scholar from Tokyo is visiting Washington College to offer insights on Chanoyu—the Japanese tea ceremony—as well as explore the West's fascination with such quintessentially Japanese cultural idioms.

Dr. Noriko Murai, who teaches art history at Temple University's Japan campus, will present "Okakura's Way of Tea: Representing Chanoyu in Early Twentieth-Century America" at the Casey Academic Center Forum on Wednesday, March 28, at 4:30 p.m.

The Book of Tea (1906), by the Japanese art historian Kakuzo Okakura, remains one of the most popular books written in English on traditional Japanese aesthetics.

What is often overlooked is the fact that Okakura originally wrote this book in Boston for an American audience.

As such, The Book of Tea reveals a great deal about America's burgeoning passion for Japanese art and culture in the early 20th century.

Dr. Murai will discuss how Okakura strategically presented the Japanese way of tea as a therapeutic antidote to the burdens of modernity. Moreover, she will examine the issue of gender imagination surrounding "tea-drinking" between Japan and the U.S. and its effect on the historical reception of The Book of Tea.

Dr. Murai specializes in modern Japanese art and the reception of Japanese art in the modern West. She has published articles in English and Japanese on the subject of Wednesday's lecture and is currently writing a book on Okakura in Japanese.

She also is organizing an exhibition on Isabella Stewart Gardner and East Asia to take place at the Gardner Museum in Boston in early 2009.

"Okakura's Way of Tea" is presented by the Washington College Department of Art. Admission is free and open to the public.

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