Lecture series: The Way of Tea, the Way of the Buddha

Wednesdays, 19.00-21.00 hrs

Venue is variable. Usually classes take place in Lipsius 005, except for the following dates:
October 17 and 24; December 12 and 19. On these dates classes take place in Lipsius 147.

Lipsius Building
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Attendance is free of charge and does not require registration.

Information: Prof dr J.A. Silk, email j.a.silk@hum.leidenuniv.nl

The Way of Tea, the Way of the Buddha

From the  Opium Wars and the ceding of Hong Kong to the British to the American Revolution with it’s ‘Boston Tea Party’ to the rise of the socialist state of Mongolia, tea has been deeply implicated in many great events and movements of world history. In particular, its impact on the culture of Japan has been profound. From its beginnings in the mountainous areas of southwestern China, in present-day Yunnan, the drinking of tea permeated China, and this progress was intimately connected with Buddhism. And mixed with Buddhism, tea came to Japan, and from this intermingling of tea and Buddhism developed the special ‘Japanese Art of Tea.’  This course begins in Yunnan, following the current of tea and tea culture from the Chinese culture sphere to Japan, with particular attention to its relations with Buddhism and Buddhist culture.


1-2:General introduction; The origins and spread of tea; the ‘water network’ of Yunnan, Sichuan, the Yangtze river, the East China sea, and Japan, and the ‘evergreen forest region culture’ of East Asia.

3-4:Tea in the Tang dynasty, the Classic of Tea, and the discoveries at the Famensi temple

5-6:The transmission of tea to Japan along with Buddhism, Heian period (9~12 c.) Japanese Buddhism, artistocratic culture and the ‘elegance’ (miyabi) of tea.

7-8: the 14th century, the roughly resplendent tea culture of the warriors, and Buddhist protective deities.

9-10: The monk Eisai’s Kissa yojoki and Zen Buddhism

11-12: The 16th century, the tea master Sen no Riky? and the Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and ‘The Way of Tea’ as a matter of life and death

Last Modified: 29-10-2012