Asian studies in Lithuania

World in the Tea Cup

Authors: Neimantas, Romualdas
Published in: Vilnius
Published on: 1994
Publisher: Valstybinis leidybos centras

Romualdas Neimantas introduces Japanese culture based on his own experience in the book called „World in the tea cup“. Author is very impressed by the traditions, art and history of the „Land of the Rising Sun“. R. Neimantas describes the most outstanding places and people while travelling through the entire Japan. He also includes some dialogues between the Japanese and himself about various topics, such as art, the tea ceremony or the history of Japan. The book gets you closer to the …ancient Japanese culture, as well as comparing everything to the Japan of today. Author describes all of his thoughts in detail, after visiting some historical places or meeting famous people who can tell him a lot about ancient Japan. A lot of pictures also adds a nice vibe to the book.

The book begins by describing the tea ceremony that Romualdas Neimantas is invited to. All of the following descriptions are his thoughts throughout the ceremony. Tea house description is very important and is presented in great detail. The tea house is called Tiasico (sic.) and only the most important people could enter the house in the ancient times. The owner of the house was the real Geisha. All of the secrets about the ceremony are portrayed in the book. No wonder that Japanese flora is no less secretive than the country itself. The plants that grow around the tea house are very subtle, requiring the special treatment. Little Japanese trees bonsai are described as very important plants in Japanese culture.

Also, Buddhism is portrayed as the religion that influenced the formation of Japan. He writes about scientists that explored Buddhism from the beginning. Very clear statements about the religion are formed. Buddhism is also divided in few more branches, such as Chan-Buddhism or Zen-Buddhism. They are compared to each other.

However, the biggest attention is payed to the artistic side of Japan. The beautiful traditional art of Netsuke is presented very clearly. Author finds out the most about Netsuke from the professor Ansch – to whom the Netsuke was the whole life. The master tells him the history of Netsuke, shows the collection of his work. R. Neimantas is really impressed by this art and is keen on showing the best side of it. Obviously, Japanese painting and its branches are also presented in the book. The author is visiting the Art House in Osaka, which still remains the same as if it was just built a couple years ago. The art school is still open there and children can attend it to learn the secrets of the painting. As well as any other art in Japan, painting also separated into some specific branches throughout the years.

The story about the Glaze art‘s teacher and his student in the 7th century is rendered very beautifully. Glaze art was one of the most popular arts in Japan at that time. The making of the glaze is described as a very long process, requiring a lot of hard work and knowledge. The story includes the student Iotto taking an exam before becoming a master of Glaze arts. He has to make a jewelry box out of glaze. This story helps the reader realise, that time in Japan is way less meaningful than in the West. Japanese people can dedicate their entire life just for one purpose.

Finally, author describes the Kabuki theater that he visited a while ago. He compares Kabuki to another famous theater in Japan called No. According to R. Neimantas, Kabuki is worth visiting because of its emotions, that the conveys the author‘s main idea. No theater is a lot more serious than Kabuki, because it was originally meant for more intelligent people only. Description of the theater is the end of the book. Author returns his mind back to where he started – back to the Tea House.

„World in the Tea Cup“ is definitely a book for people who want to genuinely get in touch with the ancient Japanese way of life and traditions. The book should fascinate every single fanatic of romance, since it is written in fast-reading artistic style. The book somehow comes to life to the reader because of detailed descriptions. Every situation can be easily imagined even being thousands of miles away from the described location.

Initiators of the project: Japan foundation VDU