Enshu School (遠州流)

Enshu school is a style of tea ceremony initiated by Masakazu KOBORI and passed on in the Kobori family. The headquarters is in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, and it is supported by the foundation Kobori Enshu Kensho-kai as well as its fellow organization Chado Enshu-kai. Furthermore, the Kobori Enshu school is a style of tea ceremony formed as a breakaway from Enshu by the younger brother, Seiko KOBORI; its headquarters is in Nerima Ward, Tokyo, and its fellow organization is called Shorai-kai.


Enshu school is a school of tea ceremony that can be said to represent the samurai tea ceremony; it features a style called 'kirei-sabi' (pure elegance), which is a synthesis of the austere and introspective way of tea incorporating 'wabi' (simplicity) and 'sabi' (elegance) developed by Joo TAKENO and SEN no Rikyu, and Masakazu KOBORI's original aesthetic sense, as influenced by Shigenari FURUTA. If Oribe is samurai-like and flamboyant, Enshu can be said to portray a natural gracefulness with the heart of the way of tea.


Enshu Masakazu KOBORI was the child of Masatsugu KOBORI who was chief retainer of Hidenaga HASHIBA, and from a young age he studied tea ceremony under Shigenari FURUTA. In 1604, at the age of 26, his father Masatsugu died suddenly, whereupon Masakazu succeeded to the family estate, taking care of Matsuyama Castle (Bicchu Province); subsequently, in 1617 he became a daimyo (feudal lord) upon receiving a Shuinjo(shogunate license to trade), and two years later he was transferred to the Omi Komuro Domain. Masakazu's style came to be called Enshu because he was appointed Totomi no kami (the Governor of Totomi (Enshu) Province) due to his achievement in rebuilding Sunpu Castle in 1608; however, he also gained renown as an architect of buildings and gardens, in which capacity he built and restored buildings around Japan, including the building of the Imperial Palace for Emperor Goyozei, the restoration of Tenshukaku Tower at Nagoya Castle and the reconstruction of Matsuyama Castle in Bicchu Province. He learned Waka poetry from son and father of Reizei family, Tamemitsu and Tameyori and Choshoshi KINOSHITA, and was a man of literature who absorbed the works of FUJIWARA no Teika. As a master of the tea ceremony, he held at least 400 tea parties during his lifetime; in addition to making utensils such as tea caddies, tea bowls and vases, he had exquisite taste and chose outstanding items from the Higashiyama Gomotsu collection, which later came to be called chuko meibutsu (later famous objects). He created the style of tea called 'kirei-sabi' (pure elegance), which fused the spirit of the Momoyama period with SEN no Rikyu and Oribe styles of tea ceremony; he became the tea master for the third shogun, Iemitsu TOKUGAWA, and instructed many daimyo (feudal lords), nobles and Buddhist monks in the tea ceremony.

The History of Enshu school

Masamine KOBORI, the fifth head of the clan, served the three generations of Ietsugu TOKUGAWA, Yoshimune TOKUGAWA and Ieshige TOKUGAWA, and was appointed as a wakadoshiyori (a managerial position in Edo bakufu) twice, being active as a member of the feudal government and having a prestigious designation as a hereditary daimyo. However, Masamichi KOBORI, the seventh head of the clan, was engaged as an obanto (head of the Imperial Guards) and Fushimi Bugyo (municipal administrator of Fushimi) under Okitsugu TANUMA, and was dismissed during the Fushimi Riot that occurred in 1788. This marked the end of the position of daimyo (feudal lord) for the Kobori family.

The eighth tea master, Masayasu KOBORI, was the son of the sixth tea master Masahisa KOBORI, and he was young when the Kobori family was dismissed; however, in 1828 he was welcomed as a direct retainer of the shogun or a Kobushin-gumi (samurai without official appointments who receive small salaries) with a fief of 300 koku, whereupon the utensils that had been passed on to a new family were recovered and the house of Kobori restored. He was invited by Naritaka TOKUGAWA, the twelfth head of the Owari Tokugawa family to give his expert opinion and teach the chief retainer of the castle Hogetsu of Imao clan; consequently, he taught tea ceremony to a wide range of daimyo retainers and court nobles and was called the restorer of the Enshu school of tea ceremony. During the Meiji Restoration, in the time of the tenth master, Soyu KOBORI, he became a member of the warrior class and widely conveyed the Enshu school of tea ceremony to common people.

History of the Kobori Enshu school

Enshu's younger brother, Masayuki KOBORI, was a page (kosho gumi) with a fief yielding 1,000 koku of rice, but when he succeeded to Enshu's estate he received a fief yielding 2,000 koku as a retainer with 3000 koku. In the Meiji period, the family became alienated from the main school, and in 1959 Sotsu KOBORI, the fifth tea master, requested independence; as a result, his way of tea ceremony became called the Kobori Enshu school.

Enshu school

The original branch of the family were feudal lords, the Omi Komuro Domain with a fief of 10,000 koku, but they were dismissed during the time of the seventh-generation master, Masamichi KOBORI. Subsequently, Masayasu KOBORI, the eighth-generation master, was designated as a retainer to the shogun and restored the original family lineage.

History of the Enshu school

The Kobori Enshu school

The branch of the family that passed on the Kobori Enshu school of tea ceremony originated with Enshu's younger brother Masayuki KOBORI when Masayuki succeeded to the family estate, and while the generations up to the sixth master, Masasato KOBORI, were a collateral line of descent, the seventh master, Masatsugu KOBORI, and the eighth master, Masayasu KOBORI, were adopted from the original family; thereafter, the line of descent has continued directly from Enshu.

History of the Kobori Enshu school

The Niemon KOBORI family

The Niemon KOBORI family were retainers to the shogun and held a fief of 600 koku; successive generations served as local governors in Kyoto, mainly overseeing the construction of the Imperial Palace.

History of the Niemon KOBORI family

[Original Japanese]