Japan History: Furuta Shigenari

Furuta Shigenari (Motosu District, Gifu Prefecture, 1544 – July 6, 1615) was a Japanese warrior who lived during the Sengoku period. He was the son of tea ceremony master Furuta Shigesada (known by his Buddhist name Kannami, later renamed Shuzen Shigemasa) who was also one of the younger brothers of the lord of Yamaguchi-jo Castle in Motosu-gun County, Mino Province. While pursuing a career as a warrior, Oribe also acquired a sophisticated taste for the tea ceremony from his father and seems to have been adopted by his uncle.

Furuta Shigenari, the samurai who was also a master of the tea ceremony

Author: SaiKaiAngel

Furuta Shigenari

photo credit: https://it.wikipedia.org/

Furuta Shigenari became Oda Nobunaga’s servant when Nobunaga attacked the Mino province in 1567. In 1569, Shigenari married Sen, one of the younger sisters of Nakagawa Kiyohide (the lord of Ibaraki-jo castle in Settsu province).

In 1576, Oribe became an administrator of Kamikuze no sho (now, Minami-ku Ward of Kyoto City), Otokuni-gun district, Yamashiro province. He later joined Hashiba Hideyoshi’s (later Toyotomi Hideyoshi) army during the attack on Harima Province and Akechi Mitsuhide’s army during the attack on Tanba Province, making a successful career as a war leader despite his small salary of 300 koku.

As a master of the tea ceremony, he is widely known as Furuta Oribe. His common name was Sasuke, his first name was Keian. The name ‘Oribe’ as master of the tea ceremony originated from the fact that he was awarded the rank of Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade, Director of Weaving Office.

During the period of his union with Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Furuta Shigenari met master Rikyū and became one of his favourite pupils for about ten years during which he wrote two works: Oribe Densho (“The Book of Secrets”) and Oribe Hyakka (“The Hundred Precepts”). His relationship with Rikyū was so intense that he was not afraid to disobey the common lord Hideyoshi when Rikyū left in exile for Sakai. During Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s rule, the generation of tea masters of the Nobunaga period, Yamanoue Sōji, Sen no Rikyū, Tsuda Sogyu, Imai Sokyu, died out in a few years. All the tea masters were philosophical and political opponents of the military expansionism of warlords such as Hideyoshi, and the importance of the discipline of tea placed them in great social and political authority, so, like Rikyu, they were exiled or forced to commit suicide. The art of tea, once Nobunaga’s generation ended, became a state ceremony in the Tokugawa Restoration period and Furuta Shigenari became the most important tea master of the new generation. He also taught the shōgun Tokugawa Hidetada, Kobori Enshū and Honami Kōetsu. However, accused of plotting a conspiracy against the Tokugawa, he was ordered to commit seppuku in 1615.

The influence

Furuta Oribe’s influence encompassed all ceremonial practice from the practice of tea preparation, to artistic and architectural styles, furniture and the style of ceramics.
In fact, Oribe-ryū was the style of ceremony he oversaw, as was the style of Oribe-yaki ceramics. He also designed a type of lantern (tōrō) for the tea garden, known as Oribe-dōrō.