Schools of Japanese tea ceremony

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"Schools of Japanese tea ceremony" refers to the various lines or "streams" of the Japanese Way of Tea. The word "schools" here is an English rendering of the Japanese term ryūha (流派).


There are three historical households (家) directly descended from the 16th-century tea master Sen no Rikyū which are dedicated to transmitting the Way of Tea that was developed by their mutual family founder, Sen no Rikyū. They are known collectively as the san-Senke (三千家), or "three Sen houses/families." These are the Omotesenke, Urasenke, and Mushakōjisenke. Another line, which was located in Sakai and therefore called the Sakaisenke (堺千家), was the original Senke (Sen house). Rikyū's natural son, Sen Dōan, took over as head of the Sakaisenke after his father's death, but the Sakaisenke soon disappeared because Dōan had no offspring or successor. The school named Edosenke (江戸千家; lit., Edo Sen house/family) is not descended by blood from the Sen family; its founder, Kawakami Fuhaku (1716–1807), became a tea master under the 7th generation head of the Omotesenke line, and eventually set up a tea house in Edo (Tokyo), where he devoted himself to developing the Omotesenke style of the Way of Tea in Edo.

The san-Senke arose from the fact that three of the four sons of Genpaku Sōtan (Sen no Rikyū's grandson) inherited or built a tea house, and assumed the duty of passing forward the tea ideals and tea methodology of their great-grandfather, Sen no Rikyū. Kōshin Sōsa inherited Fushin-an (不審菴) and became the head (iemoto) of the Omotesenke line; Sensō Sōshitsu inherited Konnichi-an (今日庵) and became iemoto of the Urasenke line; and Ichiō Sōshu built Kankyū-an (官休庵) and became iemoto of the Mushakōjisenke line. The names of these three family lines came about from the locations of their estates, as symbolized by their tea houses: the family in the front (omote), the family in the rear (ura), and the family on Mushakōji Street.

The Way of Tea perfected by Sen no Rikyū and furthered by Sen Sōtan is known as wabi-cha. The san-Senke have historically championed this manner of tea.

Other schools

The three lines of the Sen family which count their founder as Sen no Rikyū are simply known as the Omotesenke, Urasenke, and Mushakōjisenke. Schools that developed as branches or sub-schools of the san-Senke, or separately from them, are known as "~ryū" (from ryūha), which may be translated as "school" or "style." New schools often formed when factions split an existing school after several generations. There are many of these schools, most of them quite small.

Current schools

  • Anrakuan-ryū 安楽庵流 (founder: Anrakuan Sakuden [1554-1642])
  • Chinshin-ryū 鎮信流 (founder: Matsura Chinshin {1622-1703], who was magistrate of Hizen Hirado, present-day Hirado in Nagasaki Prefecture). The school takes after the "warrior-house style of tea" (buke-cha) that was promoted by the daimyō Katagiri Sekishū. The school is also known as the Sekishū-ryū Chinshin-ha (Chinshin branch of the Sekishū school).
  • Edosenke-ryū 江戸千家流 (founder: Kawakami Fuhaku [1716-1807])
  • Enshū-ryū 遠州流 (founder: Kobori Masakazu a.k.a. Kobori Enshū)
  • Fujibayashi-ryū 藤林流 (a.k.a. Sekishū-ryū Sōgen-ha; see Sekishū-ryū below)
  • Fuhaku-ryū 不白流 (founder: Kawakami Fuhaku). This school, also called the Omotesenke Fuhaku-ryū, evolved after the death of Kawakami Fuhaku, when this faction split from the Edosenke school that he had founded.[1]
  • Hayami-ryū 速水流 (founder: Hayami Sōtatsu [1727-1809], who learned tea under the 8th Urasenke iemoto, Yūgensai, and was allowed by him to found a school of his own in Okayama)[2]
  • Higo-koryū 肥後古流[3] (The word Higo refers to present-day Kumamoto Prefecture; koryū literally means "old school"). This is one of the schools of tea traditionally followed by members of the old Higo domain, and is considered to be faithful to Sen Rikyū's tea style; that is, it is tea of the "old school." The school has been led by three families, and therefore is divided into the following three branches:
    • Furuichi-ryū 古市流
    • Kobori-ryū 小堀流
    • Kayano-ryū 萱野流
  • Hisada-ryū 久田流
  • Hosokawasansai-ryū 細川三斎流
  • Horinouchi-ryū 堀内流
  • Kobori Enshū-ryū 小堀遠州流 (founder: Kobori Masakazu [Kobori Enshū] (1579-1647)) and passed down through Enshū's brother Kobori Masayuki (1583-1615). Grand Master XVI, Kobori Soen currently runs the school.)[4]
  • Kogetsuenshū-ryū 壺月遠州流
  • Matsuo-ryū 松尾流 (founder: Matsuo Sōji [1677-1752], great grandson of a close disciple of Sen Sōtan who had the same name, Matsuo Sōji). The founder of the Matsuo school hailed from Kyoto and learned tea under the 6th Omotesenke iemoto, Kakukakusai. He later settled in Nagoya, where the Matsuo school is centered. A number of the successive Matsuo-ryū iemoto in history have apprenticed under the 'reigning' Omotesenke iemoto.[5]
  • Mitani-ryū 三谷流
  • Miyabi-ryū 雅流 
  • Nara-ryū 奈良流
  • Oie-ryū 御家流 (founder: the feudal lord Andō Nobutomo [1671-1732]). The school traces its roots to Sen Rikyū, and from Rikyū as follows: Hosokawa Sansai, Ichio Iori, Yonekitsu Michikata (1646-1729), and then Andō Nobutomo. In the Edo period, the Tokugawa shōgun allowed the Andō family the right to conduct official celebratory ceremonies, and the family was known as etiquette authorities.[6]
  • Oribe-ryū 織部流 (founder: Furuta Shigenari [a.k.a. Furuta Oribe]). According to the Japanese tea historian Tsutsui Hiroichi, after the death of Sen no Rikyū, his chadō follower Furuta Oribe succeeded him as the most influential tea master in the land. Oribe was chadō officer for the second Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Hidetada, and had a number of notable chadō disciples, foremost of whom was Kobori Enshū. For political reasons, Oribe was ordered to commit seppuku (ritual suicide), and consequently his family did not become an official tea-teaching family. Through the succeeding generations, the family head held the position of karō (intendant) to the daimyō headquartered at Oka Castle in present-day Oita Prefecture, Kyūshū. With the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century, and the family's consequent loss of its hereditary position, the 14th-generation family head, Furuta Sōkan, went to the new capital, Tokyo, to attempt to reestablish the Oribe school of tea. Today, Kyūshū and especially Oita have the highest concentration of followers of this school.[7]
  • Rikyū-ryū 利休流
  • Sakai-ryū 堺流
  • Sekishū-ryū 石州流 The school developed by the daimyō Katagiri Sadamasa (a.k.a. Katagiri Sekishū) (1605–73), nephew of Katagiri Katsumoto and second-generation lord of the Koizumi Domain. Sekishū was chanoyu teacher to the fourth Tokugawa shōgun, Tokugawa Ietsuna, and his chanoyu style therefore became popular among the feudal ruling class of Japan at the time. The Sekishū-ryū school of chanoyu was passed forward by his direct descendants, and also through his talented chanoyu followers who became known as the founders of branches (派, "-ha") of the Sekishū school.[8]
    • Sekishū-ryū Chinshin-ha 石州流鎮信派 (see Chinshin-ryū above)
    • Sekishū-ryū Fumai-ha 石州流不昧派 (founder: the daimyō Matsudaira Harusato, a.k.a. Matsudaira Fumai [1751-1818]).[9]
    • Sekishū-ryū Ikei-ha 石州流怡渓派 (founder: the Rinzai Zen sect priest Ikei Sōetsu [1644-1714], founder of the Kōgen'in sub-temple at Tōkaiji temple in Tokyo). He studied chanoyu under Katagiri Sekishū. His chanoyu pupil, Isa Kōtaku (1684–1745), whose family was in charge of the Tokugawa government's tea houses, founded the Sekishū-ryū Isa-ha 石州流伊佐派. Furthermore, the Ikei-ha chanoyu style that spread among people in Tokyo was referred to as Edo Ikei, and that which spread among people in the Echigo (present-day Niigata Prefecture) region was referred to as Echigo Ikei.[10]
    • Sekishū-ryū Ōguchi-ha 石州流大口派
    • Sekishū-ryū Shimizu-ha 石州流清水派
    • Sekishū-ryū Sōgen-ha 石州流宗源派 (founder: Fujibayashi Sōgen 藤林宗源 [1606-95], chief retainer of the daimyō Katagiri Sekishū).[11]
    • Sekishū-ryū Nomura-ha 石州流野村派
  • Sōhen-ryū 宗偏流 (founder: Yamada Sōhen [1627-1708], one of the four close disciples of Sen Sōtan)
  • Sōwa-ryū 宗和流 (founder: Kanamori Sōwa [a.k.a. Kanamori Shigechika, 1584-1656])
  • Uedasōko-ryū 上田宗箇流
  • Undenshindō-ryū 雲傳心道流 (founder: Niinuma Chinkei, who was a follower of Yamaoka Tesshū [1836-88])
  • Uraku-ryū 有楽流 (founder: Oda Nagamasu [Urakusai])
  • Yabunouchi-ryū 薮内流 (founder: Yabunouchi Kenchū Jōchi [1536-1627], who, like Sen Rikyū, learned chanoyu from Takeno Jōō)
  • Yōken-ryū 庸軒流 (founder: Fujimura Yōken [1613-99], one of the four close disciples of Sen Sōtan)



  1. Genshoku Chadō Daijiten, entry for Edosenke.
  2. Genshoku Chadō Daijiten Japanese chadō encyclopedia, entries for Hayami-ryū and Hayami Sōtatsu.
  3. Japanese Wikipedia article on Higo-koryū.
  4. "What is Kobori Enshu School of Tea?"
  5. Genshoku Chadō Daijiten, entries for 'Matsuo-ryū and Matsuo Sōji.
  6. Andō-ke (Andō Family) Oie-ryū official website (Japanese)
  7. Yahoo Japan Encyclopedia entry for Oribe-ryū (Japanese)
  8. Genshoku Chadō Daijiten, entry Sekishū-ryū.
  9. Kojien Japanese dictionary, entry for "Matsudaira Harusato."
  10. Genshoku Chadō Daijiten, entry Sekishū-ryū, Ikei Sōetsu, and Isa Kōtaku.
  11. Genshoku Chadō Daijiten Japanese chadō encyclopedia, entry for Fujibayashi-ryū.
  12. ja:藤村庸軒

External links