武家茶道と広島文化~その精神と現代性 Samurai Tea & Hiroshima Culture: The Spirit & Modernity
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Samurai Tea & Hiroshima Culture: The Spirit & Modernity



ゲスト:茶道上田宗箇流第16代家元 上田宗冏氏



Hiroshima-prefecture Aki-gun Fuchū-chō, Kusunoki Plaza

Speaker: Ueda Sōkei, 16th Grandmaster of the Ueda Sōko Tradition of Tea

Translation of NHK radio broadcast of Ueda Sōkei’s lecture on 26 Feb 2011



Ueda Sōko designed and constructed gardens in the early Edo Period, gardens at Nagoya Castle and Tokushima Castle being examples. He also designed and constructed Hiroshima’s Shukkeien garden, a designated place of scenic beauty of Japan. Succeeding Sōko, Ueda Sōkei was born in Hiorshima city on 20 June 1945, and is a graduate of Keio University. Sōkei designed the teahouse ‘Senshintei’ the City of Hiroshima donated to the City of Hannover, and he also designed and supervised the construction of the teahouse in Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima. In 2007 he commenced the reconstruction of the original Wafūdō teahouse and garden complex the Ueda Sōko constructed on the grounds of Hiroshima Castle (reconstruction in Hiroshima’s East Ward). Eight hundred people gathered to hear his address at Kusunoki Plaza. Without further ado, here is Ueda Sōkei’s talk entitled ‘Samurai Tea and Hiroshima Culture - The Spirit and Modernity’.






Greetings, I’m Ueda Sōkei. Thank you for the introduction. Before I get into the real substance of today’s theme, for ease of understanding I will give an outline of the central elements of the Way of Tea (chanoyu) including the turning points in the development of the unique spirit surrounding the tea ceremony up until the Momoyama Period. After this I will concern us with themes from the Edo Period to the present.




I’m sure there are many different beverages favoured by all of you here today. Alcoholic drinks must also be included in the wide variety of beverages enjoyed by people. If you think of  preparing and drinking tea however, you don’t usually prepare tea according to a ritual. Tea as it is most often consumed is prepared in the kitchen, be it green or black tea, and then taking the tea from the kitchen to serve to a guest. Matcha powdered green tea, and also sencha fine leaf green tea, however, are prepared before guests by a host who has invited the guests to the tea gathering. Guests watch the host carefully prepare tea right before them as they enjoy the fine beverage. This setting is the very setting of the tea ceremony (chanoyu).




Chanoyu  is an art passed down through generations. While drinking the tea of chanoyu, one focuses on contemplating the quietude and fulfilment of their spirit. For this reason the tea of chanoyu is in a category of its own. And because it is without rival in this regard, chanoyu is receiving growing attention overseas, and the practice is spreading throughout the world.   




When the tea of chanoyu first came to Japan at the start of the Kamakura Period around 800 years ago, it was known for excellent health properties and for reversing the effects of lack of sleep. It was placed in the same category as medicine, a categorisation which can still be seen in the counter[1] for tea ‘puku’ rather than ‘pai’ which is used when counting normal beverages. When asking for the tea of chanoyu, you ask for ‘ip puku’ rather than ip pai, in other words, you use the counter for medicine.




When tea first came to Japan it was thought of as medicine, with the counter for medicine being used, and this still remains today. The practice of tea drinking continued for centuries and in the Momoyama period the practice of tea drinking and its related elements was formalised into a specific discipline by Sen no Rikyu. Rikyu’s chashitsu (teahouses) were small. Ultimately he came to build chashitsu of only two tatami mats in size. With this move we can see Rikyu’s style of tea was one that placed great importance on pursuing spiritual depth. Most of Rikyu’s disciples were trusted daimyo serving Hideyoshi, and in order to provide a space for chanoyu befitting the patronage of the Shogun of Japan, after Rikyu’s death his disciples returned to making more spacious chashitsu that allowed the course of a chaji[2]  to unfold with more freedom of movement.  


Among Rikyu’s disciples were samurai and samurai generals. One of particular note is Furuta Oribe who was a general in the warring states period (sengoku jidai). After Rikyu’s death, Oribe established a new style of chanoyu that centred on the samurai class. This style of tea is what we call ‘Bukesadō’ today (Chanoyu of the Samurai Class). Our forefather Ueda Sōko learned chanoyu under Oribe for 24 years, and before Oribe, under Rikyu for six years. Together with Oribe, Ueda Sōko created and established Bukesadō.



I’ll say some brief words on history, if I may. Hiroshima was originally ruled by the Mōri clan, the first major daimyo of the Chugoku District (western  part of Honshu). The clan ruled an area over 1,000,000 koku that included present day Hiroshima. Mōri Terumoto was set up as head of the alliance against the Eastern Army in the Battle of Sekigahara, and Mōri clan was pushed back to Yamaguchi after the Western Army was defeated. Fukushima Masanori (1561―1624)then came to rule the regions of Geishū and Bingo, with a combined area of 500,000 koku. In the days before Hiroshima Prefecture was established, these two regions accorded roughly to present day Hiroshima. Fukushima Masanori was close to Hideyoshi but after being charged with upgrading his castle without reporting his activities he was displaced from his position. The Siege of Osaka Summer Campaign took place in 1615, 15 years after the Battle of Sekigahara. Asano Nagaakira (1586−1632) played a major role in the Siege of Osaka Summer Campaign and he was placed in charge of the Domain of Hiroshima following the Siege. Ueda  Sōko served Asano Nagaakira and this led Sōko to come to Hiroshima in service of the Asano Clan.




Ueda Sōko was one of Hideyoshi’s chief daimyo during the Battle of Sekigahara (1600) which means he was on the losing Seigun (Western Army) side. During the Siege of Osaka Summer Campaign (1615) however, Sōko served the Tokugawa side and for this Sōko was given a pardon by Tokugawa Ieyasu. Sōko was sent to serve the Asano family as a samurai from 1619. Four hundred years ago Sōko came to Hiroshima serving Asano Nagaakira and received a fief in the west of Hiroshima Prefecture. Sōko was passionate about chanoyu, and his devotion to the Way of Tea spurred a desire in the people around him to transmit his style of chanoyu to future generations. When Sōko was alive, there was already a consciousness of an ‘Ueda Tradition’ of chanoyu, and the desire to transmit this Tradition was clear. It is a Tradition that has continued unbroken to the present day, with its base in Hiroshima, and with me as the 16th Grandmaster a tradition in its 16th generation.




Now I’d like move to a topic central to today’s theme, the chanoyu of the Momoyama Period samurai. To entertain people in a chashitsu (room for conducting chanoyu) is to unconditionally provide heartfelt hospitality to all guests. Throughout the history of chanoyu, changes can be seen in order to address the challenges of the appropriate atmosphere to create, and what equipage to use to entertain your guests. The changes in aesthetics during the Momoyama Period through to the early Edo Period are especially dramatic. Today these shifts in aesthetic thought appear not just as a passing fancy, but as shifts that are very profound.




After first coming to Japan as a health tonic, tea was popular with the Kamakura Bakufu (1185 - 1333) Over 200 years after the Kamakura Bakufu in the middle of the Momoyama Period, a monk by the name of Murata Shukō appears. Shukō (1423–1502) was a monk from Nara, and he was the first to advocate the spiritual dimension of the practice of tea drinking. As you know, the samurai became the leading figures of power during the Kamakura Period (1185–1333). The samurai had a commanding hold over all politics in Japan from the start of the Kamakura Period and for 600 years until the Meiji Period. The Kamakura Bakufu adopted a new sect of Buddhism, the Zen sect. Today the Rinzai and Sōtō sects of Zen are alive and well, and their founders, Dōgen (1200 – 1253) of the Sōtō sect and Eisai (1141 – 1215) of the Rinzai sect, made a huge contribution to the spread of Zen.




From his teens, Dōgen grappled with the question of what it is to say we all have the Buddha within us, or as Dōgen is often interpreted, to have the Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara within (Kanjizai Bosatsu in Japanese). Dōgen travelled to Song and Southern Song before his mid-thirties. After he turned thirty he developed the Sōtō sect of Zen, a sect that holds Dōgen’s conviction that to be Buddha is to wake every day and sit in zazen, to keep a routine of spiritual training by maintaining mindfulness through common chores like cleaning, through meal preparation, then if there is time, to sit in zazen again, and keep repeating periods of zazen. This daily routine of maintaining mindfulness through your work and regular periods of zazen is the Buddha according to Dōgen.

The person who repeats this living of mindfulness develops spiritually forever, until they extinguish from this world forever. Repetition means there is no limit to the spiritual maturity one can reach, and no matter how old one gets, as long as a person maintains their consciousness and posture, the person continues to mature spiritually. As Dōgen preached: ‘Shikantaza’ or ‘just sitting’ (resting in a state of alert attention that is free of thoughts, directed to no object, and attached to no particular content—is the highest or most pure form of zazen).




By all accounts it seems this concept of repetition as fundamental to a person’s continued development and the resulting culture, first appeared with Dōgen. Japan is known for its ‘culture of forms’ or ‘culture of kata’, kata being set forms or patterns of movement performed in the arts as a means to the successful execution of that art. Take Ichiro Suzuki (American Major League baseball) and other sportspeople as an example. Most are exponents of repetition, i.e. repeated practice of set forms - the kata - as the very essence of their sport. It is the same in the arts. It is the same for schools and workplaces. This ‘culture of kata’ is predominant in Japanese culture starting with Dōgen, and continuing through to the present day.




Around 200 years after Dōgen preached his ideology of repetition, of ‘practice and enlightenment are one’, lay Buddhists developed new art forms, and new kata, based on Dōgen’s principle of perpetual development through repetition. Up until this time waka (Japanese poetry, most of 31-syllable poems) was the foremost Japanese cultural form, especially since the Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves. However, 200 years after Dōgen, arts such as chanoyu, Noh theatre, the Way of Incense, Ikebana, etc. all appear at once on Japan’s cultural scene. The development of all these arts are indebted to Dōgen’s ideology.






Zeami Motokiyo (世阿弥 元清 c. 1363 – c. 1443 Japanese aesthetician, actor and playwright) established Noh as a stand-alone art form and his formulation is continued to the present day. Zeami likens a Noh actor to a flower. Zeami left the works ‘Fushikaden’ (The Treatise of the Flower through a Mastery of the Forms (Noh theatre)), also called the ‘Kadenshyo’, and the ‘Kakyō’ which contain the aphorism ‘shyoshin wasureruru bekarazu’, ‘Never forget the beginner’s spirit’. This aphorism reveals a beautiful truth. To elucidate, the beginner’s mind (shoshin) is divided into three stages over a lifetime:

1. Forget not the beginner’s mind of youth (zehi no shoshin o wasureruru bekarazu「是非の初心忘るるべからず」). When a teen or person of their 20s takes the Noh stage for the first time, their wholehearted concentration is comparable to a blossoming flower. However, this impassioned concentration becomes stale at some point, the performer matures to a point and the blossoming flower of impassioned youth withers and disappears from the stage. So what should one do? Zeami continues:

2.   Forget not the beginner’s mind of maturity (tokidoki no shoshin o wasureruru bekarazu 「時々の初心忘るるべからず」).

Now one must tread the stage while cultivating their original expression, and successfully executing their original ideas. When a person of their 30s or 40s is on stage, their sincere heart is comparable to a flower, a flower they must bud and make bloom themselves through the execution of their own original creation. Zeami’s time was a time when an average life was but 50 years, and passing from the beginner’s mind of youth and beginner’s mind of maturity, there was one more beginner’s mind:

3.  Forget not the beginner’s mind of old age (ro no shoshin wasureruru bekarazu 「老の初心忘るるべからず」).

In their 50s, even by moving but one metre over the stage, the beauty of the spirit of a Noh performer is comparable to a flower blossoming on an ancient wood. This is a very beautiful metaphor. And this is the metaphor one must carry to death; the blossoming flower of the performance withers and falls when the life-force has withered from and left the ancient root.

Zeami’s aphorism embodies the repetition of Dōgen, the thought that through repetition humans continue to blossom throughout all stages of their life.




Komparu Zempo (金春 禅鳳 1454-1520)was one of the founding figures of the Komparu School of Noh and in the text Komparu Zoudan (Quoting Komparu) he states that Noh should have the feeling captured in the phrase: ‘The beauty of the moon is not pleasing unless partly obscured by cloud.’ a phrase he attributes to the father of the tea ceremony, Murata Shukō. Of course a full moon is beautiful. It’s an example of ‘100% beauty’. But Shukō negates this common perception. Rather than a full moon shining clear, bright, and without obstruction, Shukō promotes the sensibility that a moon slightly obscured by cloud is far more beautiful than the 100% perfect moon. This period holds the first manifestations of this aesthetic sensibility in Japan. This aesthetic sensibility is the one that ponders ‘Just how beautiful is the moon behind the cloud?’, it is an aesthetic that values inexhaustible beauty. It might also be called a beauty of intrigue, and it became the new aesthetic sensibility of the Japanese. Now, all of us here  have this sensibility innate within us (audience in Hiroshima, almost surely entirely Japanese).   




Following Shukō came his student Takeno Jōō (1502-1555), and in turn Jōō would be Rikyu’s teacher. Jōō was a wealthy merchant from Sakai and a teacher of renga poetry (collaborative poetry). Flowers were first being used in chanoyu in Jōō’s time, and Jōō tells us some remarkable words: ‘Arrange flowers to the point you think one more shall suffice’. This means that you mustn’t add anything more to a flower arrangement when you think the addition of another flower will make a ‘100% beauty’ arrangement. The arrangement just short of perfection has inexhaustible beauty. This aesthetic culture is tricky, isn’t it? Though you can add another flower to the arrangement to make it a complete, ‘100%’, in actual fact you refrain adding anything more. In this is inexhaustible beauty. Through the utterances of Shukō and Jōō we can see quite a sophisticated aesthetic culture in development.




Another significant aesthetic sensibility emerged in Japan during this period. It is a sensibility that is woven through renga poetry, chanoyu, and the Noh theatre I just touched upon. The backbone of these aesthetics was Zen of the middle ages. And Shukō is regarded as the first to explicitly promote chanoyu as a vessel of bringing Zen into the everyday, lived world.




Shukō’s student Furuichi Harima no Kami was a samurai from a powerful clan in Nara. In one of his writings of about 264 characters he mentions the teaching of Shukō of which I will introduce two. The first is ‘For this Way, the utmost importance must be given to, removing one’s discrimination between Japanese and Chinese equipage’.




Shukō is saying it is imperative to removing the distinction between Japanese and Chinese equipage. At the beginning of the Kamakura Period the Kamakura Bakufu alleviated the closed country policy for trade with China that was in place for 200 years prior. After the policy was alleviated the Bakufu proceeded to import Chinese objects en masse such as paintings, and arts and craft wares as kind of luxury ‘brand’. After centuries of these luxurious imports, Shukō is implying ‘haven’t we had enough of this, already?’ Shukō drove a movement for Japan to become independent in producing the objects that were being imported en masse from China, a decree of Japan’s artistic independence, if you will. And in the present day, too, around 200 years after the ‘black ships’ from Peru and Europe started coming to Japan at the end of the Bakufu government (1867), there are similar calls throughout Japan for Japan to make its own goods and not rely on imports. Calls implying ‘haven’t we had enough of this already?’. Calls that resound in the want to express a taste particular to Japan, the taste in the look and ambience of objects that express the aesthetics of ‘The beauty of the moon is not pleasing unless partly obscured by cloud.’. Of course a full moon shining clear, bright, and without obstruction, is beautiful. But a moon slightly obscured by cloud is all the more beautiful. It is in the proactive expression of this aesthetic that we see a change that shaped the development of the art of chanoyu, and a change that shaped the equipage made and used in the art of chanoyu going forward.




Up until that time, the Chinese equipage such as porcelain and tenmoku tea bowls from the Southern Song period used in tea were regarded as the pinnacle of fine wares. Of course these are still regarded as extremely fine wares today. However at the time no-one would look at anything else but these wares. Chinese porcelain from the Southern Song period are perfect examples of  ‘100% beauty’.




These wares can be seen in art galleries around the country, and of course they should be regarded as beautiful items. Porcelain is made by breaking stone down, forming the stone powder into a vessel and firing at high temperature. If the maintenance of the kiln is such that oxygen can enter the kiln during the firing process, the vessels take on a reddish or yellowish colour rather than the brilliant greens that can be achieved when no oxygen enters the firing process. The vessels look ‘cloudy’ rather than a crisp and shiny finish. Murata Shukō asserted that tea drunk from these ‘failures’ was also enjoyable, if not more enjoyable. Now it is tea bowls that have this characteristic aesthetic that we primarily use as matcha tea bowls in chanoyu. By using the same technique that these ‘perfect’ works of porcelain are made, but still permitting those works that turn out imperfect, we have wares that are more interesting, works that express a unique aesthetic sensibility, and works from which matcha is more enjoyable.




Another development was the creation of a tea garden for stand-alone 4.5 mat tearooms. Gardens were created for these separate teahouses and the entertainment and hospitality of the day’s proceedings started for guests as they entered the garden. Takeno Jōō held Murata Shukō’s aesthetic sensibility in high esteem and he passionately continued its development, applying it in various other places than just ceramics. He took everyday bamboo that up until his time no-one thought anything special of and cut it to make bamboo lid rests. He took everyday buckets used for scooping well-water and used them in the tea room for fresh water containers (mizusashi). He took a thick shaving of reddish Japanese cypress and formed it into a round waste-water vessel (kensui). Jōō furthered the idea of embracing the imperfect by embracing nature, and furthered the idea of using everyday Japanese made objects rather than the luxurious imports used exclusively in the generations before.




Murata Shukō created 4.5 mat tearooms that were situated in large gardens of 100 to 200 square metres. A 4.5 mat tearoom is only just over 2 square metres, and when you enter such a sized room from a large garden, the small, constrictive size of the room becomes immediately apparent. To alleviate the feeling of being restricted in a small enclosure, Takeno Jōō created a smaller garden within the original large garden. This smaller garden was made so you had to proceed through it in only one direction - this is the beginning of the tea garden. These gardens were made to be around 4 square metres. When you pass through a garden this small your field of vision is restricted – you are confined to looking at a distance of only 4 square metres - so when you proceed from the small garden into a 4.5 mat tearoom, the room actually looks big. I think Takeno Jōō was an ingenious creator.




Another development of Jōō’s was the tsuchikabe (tsuchi = dirt/mud, kabe = wall), or wattle and daub wall. Up until his time boarded walls or walls with a paper covering were being used in Japanese architecture. Jōō took the underlying foundation, the daub wall that was to be covered with boards of paper, and made this the visual surface of the wall for the first time in history. This is the origin of Japanese architecture as we know it today. The daub wall underneath the boards and wall paper being used up until that time gives a soft, calm feeling in contrast to the crisp, smart, ‘100% beauty’ of the boarded wall. These boarded and wallpapered walls match the crisp, smart look of the Southern Song porcelain imports. But the same can’t be said for the matted, rustic finish of Japanese Bizen, Shigaraki, Iga, Seto, Tokoname, and Echizen kilns , the 6 kilns known as the ‘rokkoyo’ (six kilns from old). These types of wares were making items for everyday use, and these everyday items started to be brought into use in the tearoom. Flowers began to be displayed in the tearoom. Wildflowers bloom in open fields and the development of the daub wall provided an ideal setting for flowers to be displayed as if in the wild. The extent of Jōō’s innovations is remarkable and it could be said Jōō laid the foundations for Japanese architecture as we now know it.




Takeno Jōō also experimented with the size of the tearoom. He explored the unique hospitality of chanoyu in a smaller setting. He reduced the 4.5 mat size that was in vogue to 3 mats. This equates to only one mat separating the host and guest, and a reduction of over a metre in the room size. Jōō’s tearooms didn’t reduce in size under 3 mats, but Rikyu explored the ‘jitaikkyo’ ‘self and other are one’ hospitality between host and guest to its ultimate degree. Rikyu (1522 - 1591) reduced the tearoom to just 2 mats. This equates to one mat for the host to perform the temae (ceremony), and one mat for the guest(s) to sit. There’s no room to spare. The space becomes rigid and tense while passing hours with under one metre separating guest and host. Rikyu created a space in the spirit of ‘self and other are one’ where people are forced to act as one with the other in order for proceedings to unfold smoothly.  This expression and desire of Rikyu to create such a space reveals the spiritual depth of his thinking towards tea. He was experimenting with smaller sized tearooms all throughout the last 10 years of his life. This freedom of expression was made possible by the backing of Hideyoshi. Rikyu also commissioned jet black tea bowls. The black tea bowls were for use in the already dim-lighted tearoom, and the cumulative effect is a suggestion to participants of the tea ceremony to pursue a humble, desire-free mind.



The samurai teaists were extremely receptive to, and embraced Rikyu’s style of tea. However, the size of Rikyu’s tearoom seems to have been a little too restrictive for the samurai teaists. Following Rikyu’s death there are accounts of Oda Urakusai (Oda Nobunaga’s younger brother) and his peers stating that Rikyu’s tearoom puts people in discomfort, presumably due to the small size. The first generation of the Asano clan and one of Hideyoshi’s Go-Bugyō or ‘Five Commissioners’, Asano Nagamasa also showed signs of reluctance to embrace Rikyu’s tea room by suggesting to Rikyu to change rooms during proceedings of a tea gathering. Rikyu was avid about remaining in the one room for the whole duration of a tea gathering.  




Continuing the reluctance from samurai to embrace certain ideas of Rikyu, the samurai teaist Furuta Oribe led the direction of tea after Rikyu’s death and did so while reinstating the preference for larger tearooms than those built by Rikyu. Oribe almost doubled the 2 mat size of Rikyu’s preferred room. Oribe introduced a new size for the mat the temae (ceremony) is conducted on by the host. He reduced it to around three quarters the size of a normal mat. He then constructed a room with this mat, and 3 normal sized mats for the guests. He also added a change of rooms during proceedings. Oribe incorporated a ‘tsurigama’ (an iron kettle suspended from a chain from the ceiling and hanging above the hearth) all year round (the sunken hearth is usually used for only half the year in the colder months) in this second room, and he reinstated papered walls. The change of rooms to a different setting allows guests to enjoy the space of Rikyu’s wabicha during the thick tea setting with a contrasting space of elegant, dynamic movement in the thin tea setting. Oribe pursued both wabicha and a more elegant form of tea in the one tea gathering. The equipage he used was also innovative and dynamic. He had ceramicists make equipage completely different than anything before – the now popular kutsugata chawan (shoe-shaped chawan) being an example. The equipage he commissioned emitted a powerful sense of movement with their dynamic shapes and colours.




In Rikyu, Oribe and Sokō’s time, a student continued the expression of core elements of their master’s style of chanoyu. For example, Oribe continued Rikyu’s wabicha and Ueda Sokō built a kusari no ma tearoom with papered walls inspired by Oribe immediately after coming to Hiroshima. Sokō increased the size of his wabicha setting by one more mat than Oribe, effectively going from the 2 mats of Rikyu, to the 3.75 of Oribe, to 4.75 for Sokō. Sokō’s tearoom construction was also very bright in contrast to the dim setting preferred by Rikyu. Sokō included 11 windows in his tearoom which allows the equipage to reveal their dynamic shapes in full view.




Rikyu was 22 years older than Oribe which equates to a father and son age gap, and Oribe was 19 years older than Sokō. Both Rikyu and Oribe commissioned ceramicists make their desired equipage for them. In Sokō’s time we see the beginning of teaists making their own ceramics. As soon as Sokō established his residence on the grounds of Hiroshima Castle, he started making his own ceramics. Another of Oribe’s students, Honami Koetsu started making his own ceramics at Takagamine in Kyoto in the same period, the Gena period 1615~1624. Thus they led the start of a new era in chanoyu, an era of self-made equipage.




Sōko and Oribe held few Chinese equipage (karamono). They both embodied the desire to always pursue using new and inventive equipage in the tearoom, just as if they were godsends for the massive change in taste from karamono to Japanese ‘wamono’ during the Keichō era. Another major characteristic of the style of tea being conducted in this era comes from Tokugawa Hidetada. I assume there are many here this evening following the current NHK Taiga Drama ‘Gō ’. Gō was the wife of Hidetada. Hidetada’s father Tokugawa Ieyasu was such an incredible figure that Hidetada receives little attention in the shadow of his father. However, Hidetada made significant contributions to the culture of the time. For example, Hidetada was extremely fond of chanoyu. The same can’t be said for Ieyasu, but certainly for Hidetada his son. Hidetada’s tea master was Oribe. The bond between Hidetada and Sokō was also strong and as proof there are 3 letters in our records from Hidetada to Sokō. One of the significant contributions Hidetada made to the development of the tea ceremony was to reinstate the practice of Shogun Onari (the visit of the Shogun to the residence of a feudal lord) that was conducted during the time of the Ashikaga Bakufu. Hidetada reinstated the Shogun Onari the year after his father’s death, which shows it was as if he was waiting for the opportunity to reinstate this tradition.




The Onari had a set format. The Muromachi Bakufu Onari was conducted as follows: The Shogun’s procession would enter a gate called the ‘onari mon’ constructed especially for the visitation of the Shogun, the Shogun would enter a shoin (writing desk) room and bestow gifts to the feudal lord / vassal. The parties would then move to a formal hiroma[3] and the feudal lord would offer gifts to the Shogun before all parties viewed Noh (known as ‘Kannoh’) conducted in the garden of the hiroma. Then all parties returned to the shoin and participated in a ‘kyōzen’ meal of the finest cuisine. This Onari was also conducted one step down from the level of Shogun to feudal lord, to the level of Daimyo to people under their reign of the Daimyo. On top of this established Onari format, Hidetada added chanoyu to the start of the Shogun Onari proceedings. This is known as Sukiya Onarai (formal visit of the Shogun including chanoyu).






The practice of Sukiya Onari continued throughout the duration of the Edo period. The format of the Sukiya Onari was as follows: The Shogun’s procession didn’t enter the ‘onari mon’ as before, but instead entered a smaller gate called the ‘sukiya mon’. The sukiya mon is the entrance to the tea garden. The Shogun and his attendants would pass through the tea garden and then enter the wabicha tea room through a small nijiri-guchi (crouching entrance).  After the initial proceedings of the tea ceremony (koicha thick tea) the procession would change rooms to the kusari no ma[4] for another type of tea, usucha thin tea. After tea in the kusari no ma the Shogun’s procession changed into formal attire in an adjoining room and crossed the undercover bridge from the tearoom complex to the large shoin reception complex. Once in the shoin reception room, the original format of Shogun Onari as was conducted in the time of the Ashikaga Bakufu commenced. The Tokugawa shogunate gathered immense support throughout its rule, and the Shogunate continued the Sukiya Onari for the duration of its rule. The Meiji Period saw the demise of the samurai, and with them the demise of the Sukiya Onari.


Ueda Sokō entered Hiroshima in 1615, or the 5th year of Ganwa. The Shogun Hidetada started Sukiya Onari in the 2nd year of Ganwa. The timing of this saw that Ueda Sokō become the very person to consciously construct a tea complex according to the Sukiya Onari prescribed by the Shogun. For 264 years the Ueda family conducted Sukiya Onari inside the grounds of Hiroshima Castle. At the end of the period the Ueda family were forced out of Hiroshima castle.




From December this year (2011) in Tokyo, and then until March next year (2012) in Hiroshima there is an exhibition to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Ueda Sokō’s birth. During this exhibition I would like to introduce everyone to the intrigue of the Tea of the Samurai class, or ‘Samurai Tea’. Samurai Tea isn’t just about wabi. Samurai Tea has another aspect: the pursuit of elegance. The space of the kusari no ma is a space of elegance. Samurai Tea thus fuses together the pursuit of stillness with the pursuit of elegant movement. A world of sublime stillness and sublime movement is a world I want you all to see at this opportunity. The Samurai class came to an end with the Meiji Restoration, and so too did the pursuit of elegance in Samurai Tea traditions. However, I wish to reinstate the elegant equipage that was in use in my Tradition of Tea, and show everyone the original essence of Samurai Tea.




About 30 years ago I first started to think it would be wonderful to restore the layout of the current site of the Headquarters (Iemoto) of the Ueda Tradition to the original layout of Ueda’s main residence on the grounds of Hiroshima Castle. I ended up making this thought a life mission. It was sheer luck that with the Meiji Restoration the Ueda family had to move from the main residence on the grounds of Hiroshima Castle to the second residence in Furue, an eastern suburb of Hiroshima. This move happened during my Grandfather’s life, at the beginning of the Shōwa Period (1926~1989). Because of the move of the Ueda residence, the precious items of the Ueda Tradition narrowly escaped the A-bomb of which the epicentre was almost directly over the former main residence on the grounds of Hiroshima Castle. Buildings, old writings, equipage etc. escaped the tragedy of the atomic bomb without a scratch. As the second residence had an area similar to the original residence on the grounds of Hiroshima Castle, I thought the rebuilding of the original Headquarters might be possible, and with the economic help from many of the local businesses and help from many others far and wide,  the project was completed 3 years ago.




We were very fortunate many pictures and diagrams of the original residence remained and the details of the buildings and layout of the grounds were understood from these records. Something that strikes me from the rebuilding is the kusari no ma. The kusari no ma included a raised tatami alcove in an 8 tatami mat room with all papered walls. The room was a well-lit space in contrast to dark wabi tearooms. When you sit in the linking room (kusari no ma) it is immediately evident this is not a space for the wabi tea of small koma[5] tea rooms; it is a space for pursuing elegance, sophistication and refinement. Quite possibly, the Samurai of the Warring States Era (Sengoku era) needed something more than the wabi aesthetic to satisfy their souls. After all, the Samurai lived each day with the transience of life at the forefront of their consciousness. When I sit in the kusari no ma it occurs to me that the Samurai teaists needed a more open space with movement, and more light.




Ueda Sōko was renowned for his skill at garden design and construction. For example, Ueda Sōko built Hiroshima’s famous Shukkei-en garden. Just before coming to Hiroshima, Ueda Sōko took an order from Tokugawa Ieyasu to construct Ninomaru garden on the grounds of Nagoya Castle. Ieyasu praised this garden highly. Ieyasu was the person who restored peace to a nation fettered by 100 years of civil war. In a Noh Chant (utai) there is a legend about a stone bridge that no-one can cross easily, but should one cross the bridge they enter the Buddhist Paradise (Jyōdo). In the garden Sōko constructed, he placed such a formidable stone bridge to represent crossing into the period of peace i.e. Jyōdo, that had resulted from Ieyasu ending 100 years of civil war. The garden symbolises bringing peace i.e. Jyōdo to this world.




In the recent reconstruction of Wafūdō, we have rebuilt the crossing-bridge from the shoin reception building to the Wafūdō tearoom complex. Behind the conception of this crossing-bridge (that was a feature of the original design of Wafūdō when first constructed on the grounds of Hiroshima castle) may well be the same or similar notion to the stone bridge in Ninomaru garden i.e. passing from this world to Jyōdo, in this case Jyōdo being the haven of the Wafūdō tea complex. The original tearoom complex built on the grounds of Hiroshima castle also had pine trees planted along the crossing of the crossing bridge. This is a direct reference to the hashigakari construction of the stage for Noh theatre (as the actor crosses the bridge from their dressing room to the stage, they enter the world of the spirits and become the spirit enshrined in their mask. On the stage they bless themselves and the audience through enacting the spirit in the play). The crossing bridge was 40m, double the length of the one just reconstructed, and there were three pine trees planted alongside. The combination of the reference of crossing of the bridge taken from the Noh Chant (utai), the hashigakari-influensed construction, and the symbolism of pine trees (eternal life) amount to a strong expression from Ueda Sōko that crossing this crossing bridge to Wafūdō is to cross over to Jyōdo. He is trying to evoke this mindset in you. I think this each day as I myself cross from the shoin to Wafūdō, and I think that for Ueda Sōko, the tearoom complex Wafūdō was his Jyōdo in this world.




Ueda Sōko was a warlord in the Sengoku Period (Warring States period) of Japan. Since I was young people have often asked me, what is characteristic about Ueda Sōko’s style of chanoyu? And what is characteristic about Samurai Tea? - the style of chanoyu practiced and developed by the samurai class. I  have never fought in a war and I can only go on the impressions I get from the style of chanoyu handed down from the samurai, but from my understanding, life and death was a very real part of daily life for the samurai. Each step was taken with the possibility of death imminent in their mind. Uesugi Kenshin was an heroic character from the Momoyama and Sengoku Period. He said ‘Will death and one lives, will life and one dies’. Should one will life, the second you do, you die. Instead strengthen your will to will neither life nor death. Transcend this body, these emotions, out of sheer will power will to be the one to lead the charge into battle (ichiban-yari). In zen this is called ‘munen no nen’, or ‘the mind of no-mind’. Takeda Shingen’s zen teacher Kaisen was in a temple when under siege by Oda Nobunaga. When Nobunaga’s troops set fire to the temple Kaisen said: ‘shinto o mekkyaku sureba, hi mo mata kiyoshi’ ’Annihilate your self, and even the flames are cool’. The point is to transcend the flesh and one’s mind; upon achieving this there is only life, you can overcome anything; this utterance is oblivious to life and death.  




If the samurai did not make this mindset and values of transcending attachment to life and death their own, I doubt they could have gone on living. I believe the samurai embraced wholeheartedly the teachings of ‘munen no nen’, or ‘the mind of no-mind’, and ‘muso no so’, or ‘the thought of no-thought’. But even with such spiritual strength, no one can fight in battle all the time: everyone longs for a tranquil place to pass time now and then, and I believe the samurai were no different. The samurai longed for a tranquil place to centre themselves and bring quietude to their mind before returning to the unforgiving social structures they lived in. This was the role of chanoyu in their lives. The chanoyu of the Sengoku Period was conducted with the psychological and emotional strains of the times as a background. D.T. Suzuki, famous for spreading zen to the West, talked of the tranquillity found when residing in the unconsciousness. Such time to put aside their trying worldly affairs and reside in no-mind, to become aware of the rock of tranquillity lying under our flippant minds, such time was perhaps a necessity for the Samurai.




Thirty years after the death of Ueda Sōko, a biography of his life appeared entitled ‘Sōko ōden’『宗箇翁伝』. The author was a vassal of the Asano Clan, a Confucian scholar named Yama no Yoshikata. He consulted people who knew Sōko to compile this biography that is held to be the most reliable account of the life of Ueda Sōko. Ueda Sōko lived until 88 which was very rare for the time. Considering his life you might better say he ‘survived’ to 88. His oldest son was required to serve the Bakufu which left his 2nd son to be heir to the family. However when his 2nd son Shigemasa died on the 10th of April at age 44, from the same day Ueda Sōko abstained from food and water until passing away 21 days later on the 1st of May. I think the strength of his body to endure so long is incredible. According to the ‘Sōko ōden’, on the morning of the 1st of May Sōko rose, purified his mouth, drunk tea and just as if laying asleep, lay down dead. This is the way of the Samurai of the past. They took their own lives; they stopped their own lives at will.




In the ‘Sōko ōden’ is the line: ‘The enjoyment of chanoyu conducted at daytime is to be found in the pursuit of purity and tranquillity’. Ueda Sōko’s chanoyu was chanoyu conducted for the love of pursuing purity and tranquillity. The Buddhist concept of impermanence is often cited as the goal of chanoyu - the concept of embracing the fact that the flowers, plants and we ourselves who are creatures of the natural world will sooner or later die. But this is not the goal of the chanoyu of the samurai. Focusing on impermanence detracts from the zest of life. And nor is the goal of chanoyu of the samurai one where tea drinking is used as a stimulant with tea drunk immediately before throwing themselves first into battle (ichi ban yari), or serving on the front line. Chanoyu was the reverse. Chanoyu was for after battle. For the samurai who by fate survived when friends and enemies lay dead, returning from battle had a special feeling of destitution. With the constant shifts in power, out of duty one may have had to turn their sword on another who was once a friend or ally, and returning from these situations one would carry unique feelings of emptiness. The chanoyu of the samurai was chanoyu conducted to bury feelings of emptiness, chanoyu conducted to breathe in the revitalizing ambiance of tranquillity for the purpose of regaining zest for life before returning to the trials of their everyday lives.




For the role of transmitting the chanoyu of Ueda Sōko in the present day, I find the present day is a time unlike Ueda Sōko’s time. The wane and tides of battle and killing is incomparable. Yet we still find ourselves hurting others emotionally and mentally, and we ourselves are hurt by others in return. We go through times where we take a hit mentally and find it hard to maintain our will and motivation; periods when we are a shadows of our strongest selves. In these times chanoyu has an important role to play. In a tearoom not solely devoted to exploring feelings of emptiness, but in a setting that allows you to breath in a revitalizing and tranquil ambiance, chanoyu gives you the pure, tranquil environment in which you can regain zest for life, a strong spirit, and return to the trials of everyday life revitalised with full strength of will. This spiritual role of chanoyu is a role that has not changed from the Sengoku Period. This is the chanoyu I wish to transmit to this and following generations.  




Another point to touch on deals with the aging society in Japan. Ueda Sōko lived to the very old age of 88. Even without reaching old age, as a samurai Ueda Sōko still had to live each day reflecting on life and death. But old age makes you reflect on death more. We live in a time when reflecting on death is not such a central part of our psychological lives, but at present in Japan we find ourselves in an aging society where death is becoming more and more a part of daily life. In such a society there is again a growing need to take account of your surrounds and reflect on the fact that you are here, alive in the present moment. My morning routine is to start by cleaning the tearoom and then sit in zazen and focus on my breath. After this I go out into the garden, pick a flower and bring it back to place in the tearoom. After arranging the flower and placing on the alcove I take a moment to admire it before preparing tea. During this routine I am able to deeply reflect on the fact that I am here, alive in the present moment. This thought is really invigorating. Creating peaceful surrounds in which to reflect on the fact of being alive in the here and now, is a very meaning-rich pursuit. It is a pursuit I wish to transmit to others.


もう1つ,やはり途中までお話しましたような,桃山の武将たちの創作のもの,既成の権威や権力に,権威にとらわれずに,独自なものを自分たちで創っていく。宗箇たちもそうでありました。織部もそうでありました。あるいは私共の先祖でも,元禄期もそうでありましたし,文化文政年間もそうでありましたが,常に新しいものを何とか創っていこうと。 それは焼物ではなくてもよろしい。花を入れることだっていいかも知れませんし,料理をすることだっていいかも知れません。多岐多様なことが茶の湯にはあるわけですから,やはり何かの創作を自分で参画していくということを是非皆さんにも勧めていただきたいですし,創作はやはり感動を自分に与えてくれます。そういう点では,そういうものを是非伝えていきたいと思いますとともに,やはり,繰り返しになりますけども,「茶の湯の楽しむところは清静にあり」。清らかで静かなところこそが,我々の原点だと思っておりますし,それをふまえて日々を過ごしていければいいかなと,そういうふうに思っております。これで終わります。ありがとうございました。


Another aspect of Ueda Sōko's Chanoyu I place great importance on is on the creative drive of the Momoyama Samurai teaists to make their own equipage for chanoyu. They didn’t get caught in established trends and traditions, they all had the passion to come up with their own unique styles and creations. This drive was within Ueda Sōko and his compatriots, as it was in Furutan Oribe, as it was in the retainers of the Ueda tradition. They all had the spirit of artistic expression through constantly creating new things. This isn’t limited to ceramics. This constant exploration of expression through creating new things can be done through flower arrangement, or through cuisine, and so on. There are many aspects of chanoyu into which you can pour your creative drive, and I encourage everyone to exercise this in an aspect of chanoyu that has a particular resonance with you. By creating something of your own, you impress and give satisfaction to yourself.

To repeat, ‘The enjoyment of chanoyu is to be found in the pursuit of purity and tranquillity’. I believe a state of purity and tranquillity is our original state, and that conducting our daily lives on top of this foundation is for our greatest good.

Thank you for your attention.


ラジオ深夜便「明日へのことば」,お話は,広島に400年にわたって伝わる武家茶道,上田宗箇流の第16代家元 上田宗冏さんでした。

You just on tonight’s Radio Shinyabin ‘A message for tomorrow’ Ueda Sōkei,16th Grandmaster of the Ueda Sōko Tradition of Tea, a Samurai Tradition unbroken over 400 years.




[1] In the Japanese language nouns must be used in conjunction with a counter to express number.

[2] A chaji is a formal tea gathering including kaiseki meal, charcoal laying ceremony and koicha (thick tea) and usucha (thin tea).

[3] Tea ceremony rooms larger than 4 1/2 mats, yojouhan 四畳半, to a maximum of about eighteen mats in size.

[4] ‘Chain room’, or room with a kettle suspended over the hearth from a chain. ‘Linking room’ has been suggested as a translation as the kusari no ma links the tea complex to the large shoin reception complex, though this is not always the case. ‘Chain room’ is too easily associated with a torture chamber in English, so I have chosen the original Japanese.

[5] A tearoom 4.5 mats or less in size.