Sohenryu School of Tea Ceremony (宗偏流)

The Sohenryu school is a branch of tea ceremony founded by Sohen YAMADA. The school is presently based in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture and incorporated as Sado Sohenryu Fushinan.

Sohen YAMADA (whose real family name was Nishina) was the 5th abbot of Chotoku-ji Temple, which was opened by Shuzen (Moritoshi NISHINA), who had served Shonyo, the 10th abbot of Hongan-ji Temple. He was to carry on from his father at Chotoku-ji Temple and was given the Buddhist name Shukakusoen but, preferring the tea ceremony, he left Chotoku-ji Temple and took his mother's last name Yamada. In 1652 he received instruction under Sen no Sotan and built a retreat at Sanpo-ji Temple in Narutaki village of Rakuhoku. After being given the yohogama (square kettle) from Sotan, he received funding for the yohoan (square hermitage) from Suigan, the abbot of Daitoku-ji Temple. In 1655, at Sotan's recommendation, Sohen YAMADA went to serve Tadatomo OGASAWARA of the Mikawa Yoshida Domain in Mikawa Province and Sotan allowed him to use the names Fushinan, which had been handed down since Rikyu's time, and Konnichian, the name of Sotan's tea house built for his retirement. He served four heads of the Ogasawara family until 1697, when he resigned following Nagashige OGASAWARA transfer to Iwatsuki Domain in Musashi Province and moved to Honjo (present-day Sumida Ward) on the outskirts of Edo, building a tearoom and a large following of pupils. Amongst his pupils, Sohen allowed Soitsu TORII, a wealthy merchant, to use the name Konnichian and Sadazane SUGANUMA, the lord of Shinjo Domain in Mikawa Province, to use the name Yohoan, while he himself used Fushinan. From then on, generations of the Yamada family performed the tea ceremony for the Ogasawara family. However, tearooms were built not only in the territory of the Ogasawara family but, also near the villas used by the Ogasawara family when staying in Edo. The 4th generation master, Soya, was noted for reviving the So school of tea ceremony.

The 8th generation master, Soyu YAMADA, otherwise known as entrepreneur Torajiro YAMADA, was known in particular for his interaction with Turkey. In 1890, the Ottoman battleship Ertugrul Firkateyni foundered off the Kii Peninsula and was shipwrecked whilst returning to home from a visit to Japan. Torajiro YAMADA took up a collection of funds for the bereaved and, at the behest of Foreign Minister Shuzo AOKI proceeded to Turkey where he was requested to stay on by Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Even after returning home temporarily, he opened the Nakamura shoten (store) in Istanbul and traveled between Japan and Turkey for 18 years. During his sojourn in Turkey he contributed to commerce and cultural exchange and besides introducing the Turkish royal court to the Japanese tea ceremony, there is anecdotal evidence that, during the Russo-Japanese War, he telegraphed Japan the movements of Russian battleships in the Bosporus Sea. However, after the death of the 7th master, Soju, the Sohenryu school had been without a head for 40 years. With his eventual accession as the 8th master in 1923, besides managing Mishima Paper Co., Ltd., he assisted in promoting the Sohenryu school of tea ceremony.

[Original Japanese]