Urasenke, the school and the lineage

Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591)

The Urasenke teachings of chado (The Way of Tea) come from a long tradition. From its introduction into Japan in the early ninth century and until the twelfth century, the drinking of tea was confined to the Japanese court aristocracy and Buddhist ceremonies. The Rinzai Zen tradition (one of three sects of Zen in Japanese Buddhism) was then introduced to Japan from China, along with the powdered form of tea.

In the sixteenth century, Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591) established the foundations of chado as we know them today. After the death of Rikyu, his descendants established three houses, all located in Kotyo, Japan, which have passed on his Way of Tea. Urasenke is one of the three houses; the other two are Omotesenke and Mushakōjisenke.

In the twentieth century, his descendant Tantansai (1893-1964), the fourteenth-generation grand master, formed a national organization for Urasenke followers. He also began introducing the tradition of Tea abroad and gave his heir, Hounsai, the mission to spread international appreciation of the Way of Tea. Through his dynamic efforts Urasenke has become the largest tradition of chado both in Japan and around the world.

Hounsai, who later became the 15th generation headmaster Sen Soshitsu, and the father of the present grand master, brought the Urasenke tradition of Tea to Hawaii in 1951. Sen Soshitsu XV’s first steps onto the Hawaiian soil were also the first steps of his dream of making chado, the way of tea, an international bridge.

In 2002 his son, Zabosai Sen Soshitsu XVI, succeeded as the sixteenth-generation grand master in the Urasenke line descending directly from Sen Rikyu, and continues the practice of his forefathers.

The Urasenke Tankokai Hilo Association was organized in 1971 in Hilo, Hawaii. Teachings and practices are done at the Tea Ceremony House named “Shoro-an” (Pine Ocean House), which is located on Banyan Drive, on the grounds of the Liliuokalani Gardens.

“The peacefulness from a bowl of tea may be shared and become the foundation of a way of life”. Soshitsu Sen