“Good luck” and “bad luck” are often used to describe situations or events that we’re powerless to control, and the characters in The Last Tea Bowl Thief are typically Japanese in their respect for (and fear of) what fate dishes out.
Think of a point in your own life that changed your entire future. Did good or bad luck play a part? Where would you be now if things had been different?
Can you think of ways the characters in The Last Tea Bowl Thief tried to influence their luck? Do you think we can influence luck? What are some things you do to get more good luck/avoid bad luck?
Is stealing ever right?
There are three generations of thieves in this story. If we give each of them the benefit of doubt and believe they acted from the best of intentions, one steals to save a thing of beauty from destruction, one steals to survive, and one steals to right an old wrong and advance scholarship.
Were Saburo, Chiyo and Robin right or wrong to steal the tea bowl?
What could they have done instead? Could they still have achieved their goals? How might their lives have been different?
Which inspires greater art: beauty or hardship?
Yakibō and Saburo draw inspiration from both beauty and hardship in the course of their artistic careers. • Which do you think inspires greater art? • Do you think the visual arts are different from the literary arts?