Sen no Rikyu was born in 1522 in Sakai to a merchant family. He was born Soeki, but Hideyoshi changed his name in 1585 to Rikyu, to give him the status of a koji, a distinguised Buddhist layman. This allowed Rikyu to surpass his commoner status. As one of the most influential tea masters of Japan, he would serve both Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Rikyu was preceded by two tea masters: Murata Juko (1422-1502) and Takeno Joo (1502-1555). Rikyu emphasized the wabi aesthetic. Wabicha stressed rusticity and simplicity in the tea ceremony and tearoom. The Taian teahouse is an example of a space designed with wabi aesthetics. Rikyu established wabicha as an upper class activity. Although Hideyoshi and Rikyu were considered close acquaintances, Hideyoshi ordered Rikyu to commit Seppuku in 1591. Sen no Rikyu died at the age of 69.
To learn more about Sen no Rikyu’s disciples,
go to the Urasenke page.
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