Kobori Masakazu (小堀政一)

Masakazu KOBORI was the lord of the Komuro Domain in Omi at the beginning of the Edo Period. He was also famous as an expert on sado (Japanese tea ceremony), an architect and a landscape gardener. As a result of being appointed to the position as Governor of Totoumi Province (current day Shizuoka Prefecture), he is generally known by the name, Enshu KOBORI. His childhood name was Sakusuke and after genpuku (coming of age), he initially used the name Masakazu (正一) and later, Masakazu (政一). His dogo (priest name) was Taiyu Soho, and ango (temple name or pen name ending with the character an) was Kohoan. His legal wife was the daughter of Takatora TODO. His children include Masayuki KOBORI and a daughter (Shigemasa IKEDA's wife).


He was born in 1579 and his father was Masatsugu KOBORI. He was called Sakusuke during his childhood. His father, Masatsugu, came from a powerful local clan in Kobori-mura, Sakata-gori in Omi Province (present-day Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture) and was a retainer and relative of Nagamasa ASAI. However, Masakazu was born after the Asai clan had been annihilated by Nobunaga ODA and Masatsugu was serving Hideyoshi's younger brother, Hidenaga TOYOTOMI after being recognized by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, who was the lord of Nagahama-jo Castle (Omi Province). In 1585, when Hidenaga was transferred to Koriyama-jo Castle (Yamato Province, present-day Nara Prefecture), Masatsugu became Hidenaga's karo (chief retainer) and moved to Koriyama, taking Masakazu with him.

Around this time, Hidenaga invited Soji YAMANOUE and also studied under SEN no Rikyu.As a result, chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony) in Koriyama became as poplar as it was in Kyoto, Sakai and Nara. Masakazu, who was a page, waited on Hideyoshi and met Rikyu. Following his father's recommendation, he practiced Zen meditation under Shunoku Soen of Daitoku-ji Temple. Soon after Hidenaga's death, his heir Hideyasu TOYOTOMI also died and Masatsugu became a direct retainer of Hideyoshi in 1595 and moved to Fushimi. Here, Masakazu learned sado under Shigenari FURUTA.

After Hideyoshi died in 1598, Masatsugu and Masakazu served Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. Masatsugu was recognized for his exploits in the Battle of Sekigahara and given Matsuyama-jo Castle (Bicchu Province), after which he moved to Matsuyama (present-day Takahari City, Okayama Prefecture) as the local governor of Bicchu Province. Upon his father's death in 1604, Masakazu inherited his father's territory of 12,460 koku.

In 1608, he assumed the position of Fushinbugyo (shogunate administrator for civil engineering and construction) for Sunpu-jo Castle (present-day Shizuoka).When he successfully completed the work, he was promoted to the position of Jugoi (Junior Fifth Rank) and appointed as governor of Totoumi Province. As a result of holding this official post, he was called Enshu KOBORI.

The Kobori family had a residence in Fushimi Rokujizo from the time of Masatsugu and also had one in Rokkaku Echigomachi (Sanjo) that was gifted from Takatora TODO when an imperial residence was built for Emperor Goyozei. In 1617, Masakazu also assumed the position of Bugyo (magistrate) of Kawachi Province (present-day Osaka Prefecture) and was given an official residence in Temma Minamikobata-machi in Osaka.

In September 1619, he transferred to Komuro Domain in Omi Province (present-day Shiga Prefecture) and was appointed as Bugyo of Omi Province in August 1622. In Komuro, he fitted out a Jinya (regional government office) and built a tea house, but it is considered that he rarely used them. This is because he was further appointed as Ongoku-bugyo (name for magistrates placed in important areas directly controlled by the government in the Edo period) in 1623 and subsequently spent most of his time at the new official residence he established in Bungo-bashi bridge (present-day Kangetsukyo) Kitazume (north side).

Although not confirmed whether true or not, Masakazu came under suspicion of misusing ten thousand ryo of public funds in his later years, but the matter was dropped after the helpful intervention of Tadakatsu SAKAI (lord of Obama Domain in Wakasa Province), Naotaka II and Tadaoki HOSOKAWA. Thereafter, he continued to work as in the role of Bugyo, devoting himself to sado before dying at the Fushimi residence on February 6, 1647 at the age of sixty-nine. Masakazu's descendant suffered in the reforms of 1788 by Sadanobu MATSUDAIRA, but the family name continued to exist as a Hatamoto (direct vassals of the shogun).


His achievements in the field of construction for the shogunate include the reconstruction of Matsuyama-jo Castle (Bicchu Province), repairs to Sunpu-jo Castle, construction of the Tenshu (main keep or tower) of Nagoya-jo Castle, construction of an imperial residence for Emperor Goyozei and other construction work for the imperial court and the shogunate.

Other than the work for the Imperial Court, he is known to have worked on the interior of Edo-jo Castle and the construction of Tokai-ji Temple in Shinagawa (a family temple and villa for the Tokugawa family in Shinagawa Ward), Minakuchi-jo Castle to accommodate the seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") on his way to Kyoto (Minakuchimachi, Koga City, Shiga Prefecture), Iba Ochaya (rest house) (Notogawa-cho, Higashiomi City, Shiga Prefecture), and the ochaya within Osaka-jo Castle grounds. Among the temples in Kyoto, he participated in semi-official construction work such as Toshogu, located at Konchi-in of the Nanzen-ji Temple, which was a lodge for Suden Choro, a priest who was a close advisor of the shogun.He also worked on the Hall of Huki (rich and noble), located on the hojo (abbot's chamber side) of the Gokito-den (Hall for Prayer), the tea house and garden and the Hojo garden of the honbo (priests' main living quarters) of this temple. As we can surmise from his letters, he was nervous about his patronage from the shogunate in Edo, and went to great lengths to avoid getting involved with noble families in any capacity other than in his role in shoguate construction. It is possible that he was being careful in order to avoid the unnatural death which had befallen his teacher, Shigenari FURUTA.

Work to which he is believed to have contributed include: the tamaya (mausoleum) for Kasuga no Tsubone (during the Keicho era (1596 - 1615), relocation of the waiting room); the haiden (hall of worship) of the Himuro-jinja Shrine (Keicho era (1596 - 1615), relocation of Dairi Chitei (an arbor by a pond of the Imperial Palace)); Shinden of the Daikaku-ji Temple (became Chugu Shinden in the Genna era (1615 - 1617) upon the expansion of the dairi (Imperial Palace) first constructed in the Keicho era); Toshogu (Priest house), tea house and south garden (Tsuru-Kame garden (literally, crane-turtle garden)) of hojo (abbot's chamber) of Konchi-in; south garden of hojo of the honbo (priests main living quarters) of the Nanzen-ji Temple; Mittanseki (tea house) of Ryukoin of Daitoku-ji Temple; stone bridge in front of the front gate of Kohoan, a front garden and Bosenseki Roji of the same (building was lost to fire in the Kansei era (1789 - 1800) and restored in the original style); and the islands and stone-lined eastern shore of the south garden of Sento Gosho. He is also said to have built Choryutei in Daishoji Domain in Kaga Province. His seniors had high hopes based on the flashes of genius he showed as a youth and together with his efforts to improve himself, he was to show even greater brilliance in later life.

In his gardens, Enshu carried on and developed the style of his teacher, Oribe FURUTA, but Enshu's significant contribution to gardening is the introduction of straight lines. Tsukiji no niwa (garden with a roofed mud-wall) in Gosho (Imperial Palace) (altered later) that can be still seen in an existing folding screen painting and the 'Shin no tobiishi (stepping-stones)' of the Koshiyose (palanquin porch) at Katsura Imperial Villa are said to be favorites of Kobori. Spatial arrangement of combining different-shaped stones of large paving stones and square-hewn stones had never been seen before. Long paving stones arranged in straight lines can be seen in various places in Katsura Imperial Villa, but the archless stone bridge in front of Shokintei (building for tea ceremony) is especially magnificient. Moreover, techniques such as adventurous pruning of the trees, frequent use of flowerbeds and creation of grass lawns point to a western influence.

Chanoyu (tea ceremony)

Enshu's style of tea ceremony is currently now called Kirei sabi [定訳不明] and continues to be passed down as the Enshu/Kobori Enshu school. Enshu studied the waka poems and handwriting of FUJIWARA no Sadaie and introduced the aesthetics of the Heian period into the tea ceremony. Tea utensils he selected were given names from waka poems and later became known as chuko meibutsu [定訳不明]. The tea houses he designed had more windows and were brighter inside than those of Oribe. Shojo SHOKADO and Takuan Soho are famous among his pupils.

Flower arrangement

A style of flower arrangement that reflected the aesthetics introduced to the field by Enshu was especially popular during the late Edo period. Shunjuken Ichiyo, who was affiliated with the Enshu style of the tea ceremony, established the idea of the three powers of heaven, earth and human in flower arrangement and developed an independent style from cha no hana (flower arrangement for tea ceremony).

The majority of standard practices in flower arrangement were established by the three main schools, Shofu, Nihonbashi and Asakusa. From the end of the Edo Period to early Showa Period, many iemoto (head of a school) and soke (head of a house) gained independence from existing schools and the number of schools having Enshu in their name increased, reaching a peak during the Meiji era. Generally speaking, these schools use techniques that introduce exaggerated curves to branches and flower stems. Kyokuike (the introduction of curves) is said to be a difficult technique to learn in flower arrangement.


Enshu is known to have had friendships with some of the most cultured men of his generation, including the Imperial Prince Hachijonomiya Toshihito, Nobuhiro KONOE and Katsutoshi KINOSHITA. His interest in literature is clearly shown in his diary which contains poems written during his trips from Edo to Kyoto in 1621 and 1642.

A tosei-gusoku (a type of armor) said to have been worn by Enshu is owned by the Tokyo National Museum.

[Original Japanese]