Samurai Scrolls

I have a very large descriptive text in the Singing Bowls section of my website. This is the Link.  and this information related mainly to the Tokugawa Shogunate because I have a large Temple bowl given by the Shogun Iyeasu in 1600 to the Horyuji Temple .

I first became interested in the Samurai culture through my teaching of Fencing . I was a fencing teacher as my sport for over 25 years and studied all forms of martial art since age 7. First with Jujitsu, then Judo, Karate and Tae Kwon Do. However, I was very interested in both Chinese Martial Arts and the various disciplines of Kung Fu and Sword play. I put to good use my knowledge of fighting in that I was a fight director for Scottish opera, Scottish Ballet, English National Opera , Opera North , BBC and many films and television productions.

I have studied Samurai culture for many years and I hope that my descriptions will be of interest to you

Emperor Jimmu (神武天皇, Jinmu-tennō?); also known as: Kamuyamato Iwarebiko; given name: Wakamikenu no Mikoto or Sano no Mikoto, was the mythical founder of Japan and is the first emperor named in the traditional lists of emperors.

The Imperial house of Japan traditionally based its claim to the throne on its descent from Jimmu. No firm dates can be assigned to this early emperor's life or reign, nor for the reigns of his early successors. The reign of Emperor Kimmei (509?-571), the 29th emperor of Japan according to the traditional  order of succession, is the first for which contemporary historiography are able to assign verifiable dates




Akimitsu The Samurai Archer 60.8x185cm 23.9x72.8 £295
(Artist information at the foot of this information)

Japanese bows date back to prehistoric times — the Jōmon Period. The long, unique asymmetrical bow style with the grip below the centre emerged under the Yayoi culture (300 BC – 300 AD) Bows became the symbol of authority and power. The legendary first emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu, is always depicted carrying a bow.

The use of the bow had been on foot until around the 4th century when elite soldiers took to fighting on horseback with bows and swords. In the 10th century, samurai would have archery duels on horseback. They would ride at each other and try to shoot at least three arrows. These duels did not necessarily have to end in death, as long as honor was satisfied. One of the most famous and celebrated incidents of Japanese mounted archery occurred during the Genpei War (1180–1185), an epic struggle for power between the Heike and Genji clans that was to have a major impact on Japanese culture, society, and politics.

At the Battle of Yashima, the Heike, having been defeated in battle, fled to Yashima and took to their boats. They were fiercely pursued by the Genji on horseback, but the Genji were halted by the sea.

As the Heike waited for the winds to be right, they presented a fan hung from a mast as a target for any Genji archer to shoot at in a gesture of chivalrous rivalry between enemies.

One of the Genji samurai, Nasu Yoichi, accepted the challenge. He rode his horse into the sea and shot the fan cleanly through. Nasu won much fame and his feat is still celebrated to this day.

During the Kamakura Period (1192–1334), mounted archery was used as a military training exercise to keep samurai prepared for war. Those archers who did poorly might find themselves commanded to commit seppuku, or ritualistic suicide.

There are two famous schools of mounted archery that perform yabusame. One is the Ogasawara school. The founder, Ogasawara Nagakiyo, was instructed by the shogun Minamoto Yoritomo (1147–1199) to start a school for archery. Yoritomo wanted his warriors to be highly skilled and disciplined. Archery was seen as a good way for instilling the necessary principles for a samurai warrior.

Zen became a major element in both foot and mounted archery as it also became popular among the samurai in every aspect of their life during the Kamakura Period.

Yabusame as a martial art helped a samurai learn concentration, discipline, and refinement. Zen taught breathing techniques to stabilize the mind and body, giving clarity and focus. To be able to calmly draw one's bow, aim, and shoot in the heat of battle, and then repeat, was the mark of a true samurai who had mastered his training and his fear.

The other archery school was begun earlier by Minamoto Yoshiari in the 9th century at the command of Emperor Uda. This school became known as the Takeda school of archery. The Takeda style has been featured in classic samurai films such as Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" (1954) and "Kagemusha" (1980). The famed actor of many samurai films, Toshirō Mifune, was a noted student of the Takeda school.

The artist Unrei, Akamatsu 雲嶺 赤松 (1892 - 1958)
Akamatsu Unrei was born in Osaka in 1892. His real name was Yoshisuke.
He studied painting with Unsen Koyama and Tikugai Fujii and later with the famous nanga painter Himejima Chikugai (1840-1928).
At a relatively young age he already proved a true master of nanga, surpassing the talents of his teachers and finding a new, personal way of looking at nanga. His paintings were often exhibited with the Bunten, Teiten and Nitten and he was a member of the Nihon Nanga-in.
He died in 1958 at the age of 65.


Yumi () is the Japanese term for bows, and includes the longer daikyū (大弓?) and the shorter hankyū (半弓) used in the practice of kyūdō, or Japanese archery.




This gloriously coloured portrait scroll is of the famous Samurai Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長)
70x21 inches. 193x52.8cms Includes original artist Box. Bone Scroll ends. Date  circa 1920 £220.

Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長) Oda Nobunaga  (June 23, 1534 – June 21, 1582) was the initiator of the unification of Japan under the rule of the Shogun in the late Sixteenth Century, a rule that ended only with the opening of Japan to the Western world in 1868. He was also a major daimyo during the Sengoku period of Japanese history. His opus was continued, completed and finalised by his successors Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. He was the second son of Oda Nobuhide, a deputy shugo (military governor) with land holdings in Owari Province. Nobunaga lived a life of continuous military conquest, eventually conquering a third of Japanese daimyo before his death in 1582. His successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a loyal Oda supporter, would eventually become the first man to conquer all of Japan and the first ruler of all Japan since the Ōnin War.

Nobunaga, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu

Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who unified Japan in 1590, and Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1603, were loyal followers of Nobunaga. These two were gifted with Nobunaga's previous achievements on which they could build a unified Japan. There was a saying: "Nobunaga pounds the national rice cake, Hideyoshi kneads it, and in the end Ieyasu sits down and eats it."[10]
Hideyoshi was brought up from a nameless peasant to be one of Nobunaga's top generals. When he became a grand minister in 1586, he created a law that the samurai caste became codified as permanent and heritable, and that non-samurai were forbidden to carry weapons, thereby ending the social mobility of Japan from which he himself had benefited. These restrictions lasted until the dissolution of the Edo Shogunate by the Meiji revolutionaries. Hideyoshi secured his claim as the rightful successor of Nobunaga by defeating Akechi Mitsuhide within a month of Nobunaga's death.
It is important to note that the distinction between samurai and non-samurai was so obscure that during the 16th century, most male adults in any social class (even small farmers) belonged to at least one military organization of their own and served in wars before and during Hideyoshi's rule. It can be said that an "all against all" situation continued for a century. The authorized samurai families after the 17th century were those that chose to follow Nobunaga, Hideyoshi and Ieyasu. Large battles occurred during the change between regimes and a number of defeated samurai were destroyed, became ronin or were absorbed into the general populace.
Ieyasu had shared his childhood with Nobunaga as a hostage of the Oda clan. Though there were a number of battles between Ieyasu and the Oda clan, Ieyasu eventually switched sides and became one of Nobunaga's strongest allies.






This is a wonderful portrait of Toyotomi.
He is one of Japans great historical heroes. He became a leader of Japan although born a farmer's son.

This scene is the time when he was a general of the battle against the Takamatsu castle.
April 1582 – Hideyoshi besieges Takamatsu Castle, Mori clan stronghold.

June 21, 1582 – Oda Nobunaga forced to commit seppuku by Akechi Mitsuhide at Honnon-ji.

• Late June 1582 – Hideyoshi quickly finishes conquest of Takamatsu Castle before news of Nobunaga’s death can get out.

Toyotomi is the Family name

 Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the general who first united all of Japan. His wife,, Yodo-dono, was the niece of Oda Nobunaga.

Hideyoshi died in 1598, the regents he had appointed to rule in Hideyori's place began jockeying amongst themselves for power. Tokugawa Iyeasu seized control in 1600, after his victory over the others at the Battle of Sekigahara. In the year 1600 Iyeasu Tokugawa gave a temple bowl to the oldest wooden structure in Japan, the Horyukji Temple in Nara.  which is now part of my own collection of Japanese treasures.


Hideyoshi Toyotomi as boy Painted by Shokan 1920 £135 with Box

Famous SAMURAI lord HIDEYOSHI TOYOTOMI and his vassal MASAKATSU HACHISUKA.This scene depicts their first contact. At the time, HIDEYOSHI was only a poor boy and MASAKATSU was a brigand

Hachisuka Masakatsu (蜂須賀正勝?), also Hachisuka Koroku (1526 – July 8, 1586) was a daimyo and retainer of Toyotomi Hideyoshi during the Azuchi-Momoyama period of Japanese history. He was the son of Hachisuka Masatoshi.

The Hachisuka clan were the kokujin of the Kaitō District of Owari Province (in present-day Ama District, Aichi Prefecture). They controlled water transport on the Kiso River. Their knowledge of local terrain made them useful to the Oda and Saitō clans, although they remained independent of control of the powerful clans.

Later, Masakatsu served Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and may have participated in the building of Sunomata Castle as well as the campaigns against the Mōri. In 1585, Hideyoshi awarded him Awa Province as a fief, but he declined in favor of his son, Iemasa, serving instead as an intimate of Hideyoshi.

Note: "The Toyotomi uji was simultaneously granted to a number of Hideyoshi's chosen allies , who adopted the new uji `` 豊臣朝臣 ''
( Toyotomi no asomi , courtier of Toyotomi

Very little is known for certain about Hideyoshi before 1570, when he begins to appear in surviving documents and letters. His autobiography starts in 1577 but in it Hideyoshi spoke very little about his past. By tradition, he was born in what is now Nakamura-ku, Nagoya
Nakamura-ku, Nagoya. Nakamura is one of the wards of Nagoya, Japan.Nagoya Station is in the ward's Meieki district.
, Owari ProvinceOwari Provincewas an old province of Japan that is now the western half of present day Aichi Prefecture, including much of modern Nagoya. Its abbreviation is Bishū ....), the home of the Oda clanOda clanThe was a family of Japanese daimyo who were to become an important political force in the unification of Japan in the mid-16th century. Though they had the climax of their fame under Oda Nobunaga and fell from the spotlight soon after, several branches of the family would continue on as daimyo... He was born of no traceable samurai lineage, being the son of a peasant-warrior named Yaemon. He had no surname, and his childhood given name was ("Bounty of the Sun") although variations exist.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi had been given the nickname Kozaru, meaning "little monkey", from his lord Oda Nobunaga because his facial features and skinny body resembled that of a monkey .

Many legends describe Hideyoshi being sent to study at a temple as a young man, but that he rejected temple life and went in search of adventure. Under the name , he first joined the Imagawa clanImagawa clanThe was a Japanese clan that claimed descent from Emperor Seiwa . It was a branch of the Minamoto clan by the Ashikaga clan.-Origins:Ashikaga Kuniuji, grandson of Ashikaga Yoshiuji, established himself in the 13th century at Imagawa and took its name.Imagawa Norikuni received from his cousin a servant to a local ruler named Matsushita Yukitsuna. He traveled all the way to the lands of Imagawa YoshimotoImagawa Yoshimotowas one of the leading daimyo in early Sengoku period Japan. Based in Suruga Province, he was one of the three daimyo that dominated the Tōkaidō region. He was one of the dominant daimyo in Japan for a time, until his death in 1560...., daimyo of Suruga ProvinceSuruga Provincewas an old province in the area that is today the central part of Shizuoka prefecture. Suruga bordered on Izu, Kai, Sagami, Shinano, and Tōtōmi provinces; and had access to the Pacific Ocean through Suruga Bay.-History:... and served there for a time, only to abscond with a sum of money entrusted to him by Matsushita Yukitsuna.

SHINRAN, Jodoshin-shu the founder of Shinto Buddhism by Shunsui 1920 A short scroll beautifully painted by the Buddhist Scroll artists Shunsui. Remounted onto new silks with a box. £165 52.5x23



Another relation through marriage was the Samurai Kiyomasa Kato

Kiyomasa was born in Owari Province to Katō Kiyotada. Kiyotada's wife, Ito, was a cousin of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's mother. Kiyotada died while his son (then known as Toranosuke) was still young. Soon after, Toranosuke entered service with Hideyoshi, and in 1576, at age 14, was granted a revenue of 170 koku. He fought in Hideyoshi's army at the Battle of Yamazaki, and later, at the Battle of Shizugatake. Owing to his distinguished conduct in that battle, he became known as one of the Seven Spears of Shizugatake.[1] Hideyoshi rewarded Kiyomasa with an increased revenue of 3000 koku.

When Hideyoshi became the kampaku in the summer of 1585, Kiyomasa received the court title of Kazue no Kami (主計頭) and junior 5th court rank, lower grade (ju go-i no ge 従五位下). In 1586, after Higo Province was confiscated from Sassa Narimasa, he was granted 250,000 koku of land in Higo (roughly half of the province), and given Kumamoto Castle as his provincial residence.

In 1592, he joined in the invasion of Korea.Kiyomasa was one of the three senior commanders during the Seven-Year War (1592-1598) against the Korean dynasty of Joseon. Together with Konishi Yukinaga, he captured Seoul, Busan, and many other crucial cities. Kiyomasa was an excellent architect of castles and fortification. During the Imjin war, he built several Japanese style castles in Korea to better defend the conquered lands. Ulsan castle was one of these fortresses that Kiyomasa built, and it proved its worth when Korean-Chinese allied forces attacked it with far superior force, yet the out-numbered Japanese successfully defended the castle until the Japanese reinforcements arrived, which forced the sino-korean allies to retreat.

The Korean king Seonjo abandoned Seoul in fear of Kiyomasa. Kiyomasa held two Korean princes who had deserted as hostages and used them to force lower-ranking Korean officials to surrender[2][3]. He killed a tiger while hunting in Korea peninsula, and presented to Hideyoshi the fur.[4] Kiyomasa's most famous fight is the Siege of Ulsan (蔚山城の戦い) on December 22, 1593. Kiyomasa bravely succeeded in the fight defense though Chinese general Yang Hao (楊鎬) encircling Ulsan with 60,000 military forces.[citation needed] He defended frequent attacks from the Chinese army with Ulsan until November 23, 1598. However, his brave fight was not reported to Hideyoshi by his rival's overseer Ishida Mitsunari. After Hideyoshi's death, he conflicted with Ishida Mitsunari, and approaches Tokugawa Ieyasu.[5]

William Scott Wilson describes Kato Kiyomasa thus: "He was a military man first and last, outlawing even the recitation of poetry, putting the martial arts above all else. His precepts show the single-mindedness and Spartan attitudes of the man, (they) demonstrate emphatically that the warrior's first duty in the early 17th century was simply to "grasp the sword and die." Contemporary accounts of Kato describe him as awe-inspiring, yet not unfriendly, and a natural leader of men."

A devoted member of Nichiren Shu Buddhism, Kiyomasa encouraged the building of Nichiren temples.[6] He did not see eye-to-eye with Ishida Mitsunari, and Hideyoshi recalled him to Kyoto. He came into conflict with Konishi, who ruled the neighboring domain in Higo, and was a Christian. Kiyomasa was noted for suppressing Christianity.[7] At the battle of Hondo, he ordered his men to cut open the bellies of all pregnant Christian women and cut off their babies' heads.[8]

During the Battle of Sekigahara, Kiyomasa remained in Kyūshū, siding with the eastern army of Tokugawa Ieyasu. For his loyalty to the Tokugawa, Kiyomasa was rewarded with the former territories of his rival Konishi (who had sided with Ishida), which when added to his existing territory, increased the Kumamoto domain to around 530,000 koku.[citation needed]

In his later years, Kiyomasa tried to work as a mediator for the increasingly complicated relationship between Ieyasu and Toyotomi Hideyori. In 1611, en route by sea to Kumamoto after one such meeting, he fell ill, and died shortly after his arrival. He was buried at Honmyō-ji temple in Kumamoto, but also has graves in Yamagata Prefecture and Tokyo. Kiyomasa is also enshrined in a Shinto shrine in Kumamoto.

In 1910, Kiyomasa was posthumously promoted to junior 3rd court rank (jusanmi 従三位).

The Kato scroll dates from 1920 and has been restored with its original wooden scroll ends. The Kato scroll comes with a box. £195


Japanese Shrine of Emperor

Recently completely restored with new silks and mounts to this beautiful painting from the 1920's

With a wooden box made for this Scroll


Kimigayo-The Japanese National Anthem

Painted by Scroll artist Chikuha this painting is 118 cm (about 46 inches) by 40 cm  £170


KABUTO ( SAMURAI helmet ).
It has the wish that the boys will be big men.
This type scroll or SAMURAI helmet for decoration
is for boys festival named SHOUBU no SEKKU in May.
The quality is of the painting is excellent and the size is 55.9"x 26.6"

However while the scroll mounting is not too bad, I would like to remount this scroll with new silks and will do that during November. I will make a matching size box at the same time. The price will be £195. As is the price is £125


SAMURAI hero MASASHIGE KUSUNOKI £125 Silk Screened and partially hand painted



Another true historical figure who is related in period to Hideyoshi Toyotomi.

Sen No Rikyu;

Sen no Rikyu (千利休; 1522 - April 21, 1591) is the historical figure considered to have had the most profound influence on the Japanese tea ceremony. Rikyu was also a member of the inner circles of the powerful Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. A man of simple taste, he lived a cultivated and disciplined lifestyle and defined the term wabi cha by emphasizing simple, rustic, humble qualities in the tea ceremony, which had been revolutionized by Ikkyu and his disciple Murata Shuko a century earlier. Sen no Rikyu’s first documented name was Yoshiro, later changed to Soueki. In 1585 a special tea ceremony was held to celebrate the inauguration of Toyotomi Hideyoshi as Kanpaku. On this occasion, Rikyu was given the special Buddhist name “Rikyu kojigou” by Emperor Ogimachi, and eventually became the supreme tea master. Three of the best-known schools of tea ceremony—the Urasenke, Omotesenke and Mushanokōjisenke—originated from Sen no Rikyu and his descendants via his second wife. A fourth school is called Sakaisenke.

Before and after

Chajin-The tea master. This is a short of Sen no Rikyu scroll dating from around 1860. I have recently restored this with new silk mounts in Grey(not blue) and made a beautiful box in Antique Kimono Silk with a Fan patter, £175






The Sen No Rikyu Scroll comes with the period box. The scroll ends are lacquered Black. A very fine scroll that has probably been rarely hung. In excellent condition. £175


The great Tea Master Sen no Rikyu

During the reign of Toyotomi Hideyoshi the Tea Ceremony  became popular in Japan. Sen no Rikyu(千利休,1522-1591) is the person who established the Japanese Tea Ceremony. He was the one that made the art of making tea into a national art form.. Rikyu synthesized a unique way of life, combining the everyday aspects of living with the highest spiritual and philosophical tenets. This has been passed down to the present as the “Way of Tea.” Hideyoshi was entranced with the ceremony and gave Rikyu an estate. But that did not prevent Hideyoshi from ordering Sen no Rikyu, the great master of the Japanese tea ceremony to commit ritual suicide ("seppuku") in 1591.

Rikyu was born in Sakai in 1522. His father, Tanaka Yōhei (田中与 兵衛 / 田中 與兵衞) was a wealthy warehouse owner in the fish wholesale business, and his mother was Tomomi Tayuki (宝心 妙樹). His childhood name, as the eldest son, was Yoshiro (later Rikyu). Sakai is located on the edge of Osaka Bay at the mouth of the Yamato River, which connected the Yamato region (now Nara Prefecture) to the sea. Sakai thus became a link between foreign trade and inland trade, and merchant citizens ran the city. In those days it was said that the richest cities were Umi Sakai, Riku Imai (tr. "along the sea, Sakai, inlands Imai").

The famous Zen Buddhist priest Ikkyu (一休宗純 Ikkyū Sōjun) (1394-1481) chose to live in Sakai because of its free atmosphere. Ikkyu was an eccentric, iconoclastic Japanese Zen Buddhist priest and poet. He was also one of the creators of the formal Japanese tea ceremony. Because of the close relationship between the tea ceremony and Zen Buddhism, and because of the prosperity of its citizens, Sakai became one of the main centers for the tea ceremony in Japan.

In 1538, at an early age, Yoshiro began his study of tea. His first teacher was Kitamuki Dochin (北向道陳) who taught tea in the traditional style suited to the shoin (a drawing room in the traditional Japanese architecture) reception room. In 1540 Rikyu started to learn from Takeno Jo-o (武野紹鴎), who is associated with the development of the wabi aesthetic in tea ceremony, a new style featuring a small, thatched tea house. Kitamuki Dochin (北向道陳) and Takeno Jo-o(武野紹鴎)were both famous tea masters and wealthy merchants in Sakai. Takeno Jo-o developed Wabi-cha, which had been begun by Murata Shuko (村田珠光)、and initiated Rikyu in the new tradition.

Rikyu, like Shuko and Jo-o, also underwent Zen training at Daitoku-ji, a temple in northwest Kyoto that had a long tradition of the tea ceremony. Thereafter, he changed his name to Sen Soueki, taking the family name of Sen from his grandfather's name, Sen-ami.

It was then that Rikyu composed the poem that dates from that time: "Though many people drink tea, if you do not know the Way of Tea, tea will drink you up." The meaning is that without any spiritual training, you think you are drinking tea, but actually tea drinks you up.

Rikyu synthesized a unique way of life, combining the everyday aspects of living with the highest spiritual and philosophical tenets. This has been passed down to the present as the “Way of Tea.”

At the end of sixteenth century the tea ceremony was prevalent, centering on Sakai. The important merchants of Sakai were collecting prestigious tea implements and enjoying new styles of the tea ceremony. At that time Oda Nobunaga banished the Murimachi shogunate of Ashikaga Yoshimasa from Kyoto. This was the era in which Oda Nobunaga’s political and military power was unifying the nation. Nobunaga recognized the popularity of the tea ceremony, and he also began to study and participate in the tea ceremony. It is thought that around 1573 Rikyu was invited to be the Master of Tea Ceremony for Nobunaga. Nobunaga allowed his followers to do the tea ceremony, and it became a rite of the Samurai (warriors). Nobunaga’s political strategy was named ochanoyu goseido (the tea ceremony policy). Nobunaga also emphasized the collection of special tea implements; if his followers rendered distinguished services they received these valuable items as rewards. Receiving such a gift was considered as honorable as being named a feudal lord.

In 1578 Rikyu’s wife, Houshin Myoujyu, died; he later married a second wife, Shushin. The Incident at Honnōji (本能寺の変Honnōji-no-hen), on June 21, 1582, resulted in the forced suicide of Oda Nobunaga at the hands of his samurai general Akechi Mitsuhide. This occurred in Honnoji, a temple in Kyoto, ending Nobunaga's quest to consolidate centralized power in Japan under his authority. After the death of Nobunaga, Rikyu became the head tea master of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the de facto successor of Nobunaga. Hideyoshi continued Nobunaga's policy and unified Japan after several years of civil war.

Ostensibly in charge of tea, Rikyu wielded great influence over Hideyoshi in other matters as well. When Hideyoshi hosted a tea at the Imperial Palace in 1585, Rikyu received the Buddhist title of koji from the Emperor Ogimachi, thus establishing his prominence among the practitioners of tea in Japan. We can understand Rikyu’s position from a letter written by Otomo Sorin, who was a powerful feudal lord at that time. Sorin wrote, “Hideyoshi’s private secretary at the window was Rikyu and Hideyoshi’s official secretary at the window was the general Hidenaga (Hideyoshi’s step brother).” This means that Rikyu occupied the position closest to Hideyoshi and controlled who had access to him, while Hideyoshi’s brother-in-law only acted in an official capacity. From this we can appreciate the magnitude of the political power held by Rikyu in Hideyoshi’s administration.

Around this period Rikyu moved his residence from Sakai to Kyoto, lived on the premises in front of Daitoku-ji temple and set up a tea room named Fushinan, which became the base for his tea ceremony activities and for the schools he established.

In 1585 a special tea ceremony was held to celebrate the inauguration of Toyotomi Hideyoshi as Kanpaku (the regent or the chief adviser to the Emperor). Hideyoshi performed the tea ceremony for Emperor Ogimachi, with Rikyu as his on-stage assistant. On this occasion Rikyu was given the special Buddhist name “Rikyu kojigou” by Emperor Ogimachi and, in both name and reality, Rikyu became the supreme tea master.

In 1587 when Hideyoshi attacked Shimazu, the feudal lord in Kyushu (southern part of Japan), Rikyu accompanied him. He held several tea ceremonies in Kyushu and worked to establish a cultural and political exchange with the wealthy and powerful business people of Kyushu, such as Kamiya Sotan and Shimai Soshitsu.

Then a lavish palace called the Jurakudai or Jurakutei (聚楽第) was constructed in Kyoto by the order of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Construction began in 1586, when Hideyoshi had taken the post of Kanpaku, and required 19 months for completion. The location is in present-day Kamigyō, on the site where the Imperial palace had stood during the Heian period. Rikyu was also given a residence nearby. Hideyoshi hosted a large tea ceremony party at the precinct of Kitano Tenman-gū (北野天満宮), a Shinto shrine in Kyoto.

During this time, Chanoyu (tea ceremony) came into contact with Christianity. Many missionaries came to Sakai and Kyoto, where they befriended Rikyu and the other teachers of tea. Among the seven principle students of Rikyu were three devout Christians: Furuta Oribe, Takayama Ukon, and Gamou Ujisato.

It was during his later years that Rikyu began to use very tiny, rustic tearooms, such as the two-tatami (Japanese mat) tearoom named Taian, which can be seen today at Myokian temple in Yamazaki, a suburb of Kyoto. This tea room has been declared a national treasure. He also developed many implements for tea ceremony, including flower containers, tea scoops, and lid rests made of bamboo, and also used everyday objects for the tea ceremony, often in novel ways. In addition, he pioneered the use of Raku tea bowls and had a preference for simple, rustic items made in Japan, rather than the expensive Chinese-made items that were fashionable at the time.

Although Rikyu had once been one of Hideyoshi's closest confidants, for reasons which remain unknown, Hideyoshi ordered him to commit ritual suicide, which he did at his Jurakudai residence in Kyoto on February 28, 1591, at the age of seventy. Rikyu's grave is located at Jukoin temple in the Daitokuji compound in Kyoto; his posthumous Buddhist name is Fushin'an Rikyu Soeki Koji.

Memorials for Rikyu are observed annually by many schools of Japanese tea ceremony. The Urasenke School’s memorial takes place each year on March 28.


Notes on Toyotomi Hedeyoshi are also below

The most significant figure in Japanese history, as far as the Japanese are concerned, is Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598). Even his lifetime he was considered one of the greatest of the Japanese, and he was made a Shinto deity shortly after his death and given the title, Hokoku, or "Wealth of the Nation." He began in the most obscure circumstances—the homeless son of a peasant— and rose to become the complete master of Japan by 1590. Hideyoshi had no last name when he began to serve Oda Nobunaga; by the end of his life, he had assumed the family name, Toyotomi, or "Abundant Provider."

   Oda Nobunaga had attempted to unify Japan through sheer brute force; Toyotomi furthered this endeavor by concentrating on the arts of peace and administration. Oda had done, you might say, all the dirty work and it was left to Toyotomi to forge a new administrative organization to guarantee unification. His goal was to establish a national structure which allowed various regional feudatories to remain independent and yet still cooperate among one another. He did not wish to establish a centralized government under his control, even though, by 1590, he was the undisputed master of Japan. The government that he built was founded on the old feudal system of personal loyalties rather than administrative centrality. While he pacified the country, he did not fundamentally change the Japanese way of national life.

   Most of the measures that Hideyoshi employed would become the basis of Tokugawa rule only a decade later and were instrumental in the long period of domestic quiet that characterized the Tokugawa period (1603-1868). Foremost among these was Hideyoshi's laws barring social mobility. He was concerned about people like himself and his former lord, Oda Nobunaga, who had risen from obscurity through the force of ambition and ruthless single-mindedness. Hideyoshi made class a permanent status for individuals and their offspring; in particular, he made the samurai ("servants"), who were the professional soldiers of Japan, into a separate class and forbade anyone from the non-samurai class to carry weapons or armor.

   Hideyoshi's greatest ambition, however, was a Japanese empire extending over the whole of Asia. Throughout the medieval period, the centrality of Japan became more and more an intrinsic aspect of the Japanese national identity. Nobunaga had harbored dreams of a Japanese conquest of China and Hideyoshi attempted to bring those dreams into reality. Shortly after he had unified the feudatories of Japan, he began planning his conquest of China. In 1592 and 1597, he invaded Korea and seized much territory in order to prepare a jumping-off point for the conquest of China through Korea. When he died in 1598, however, all his plans died with him. It was not until the twentieth century that the dream of a Japanese empire would again stir the Japanese to attack Korea and then China.

   Hideyoshi's imperial ambitions led him to neglect domestic politics throughout the 1590's. The peace he had brought to Japan had held together only out of personal loyalties to Hideyoshi. These loyalties ran deep, for Hideyoshi had amassed tremendous wealth and lavished it on the imperial court and on various lords throughout the country (hence his posthumous title, "Wealth of the Nation"). When he died, however, the loyalties that people felt for him died as well. He was enshrined in his own temple, called Toyokuni ("Wealth of the Nation") sitting above the Great Buddha he had built in Kyoto. His shrine became a prominent Shinto site, but the affection form him and his era could not hold the country together. The various feudal lords again fell into contention with one another and Hideyoshi's son lost out in the scramble for regional power. The final unification of Japan would fall to the third great hero of Japanese history, Tokugawa Ieyasu.1542-1616
Note on the history of this period:
Toyotomi Hideyoshi changed Japanese society in many ways. These include imposition of a rigid class structure, restriction on travel, and surveys of land and production.
Class reforms affected commoners and warriors. During the Sengoku period
Sengoku period. The was a time of social upheaval, political intrigue, and nearly constant military conflict in Japan that lasted roughly from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century....
, it had become common for peasants to become warriors, or for samurai to farm due to the constant uncertainty caused by the lack of centralized government and always tentative peace. Upon taking control, Hideyoshi decreed that all peasants be disarmed completely. Conversely, he required samurai to leave the land and take up residence in the castle towns. This solidified the social class system for the next 300 years.
Furthermore, he ordered comprehensive surveys and a complete census of Japan. Once this was done and all citizens were registered, he required all Japanese to stay in their respective han (fiefs) unless they obtained official permission to go elsewhere. This ensured order in a period when bandits still roamed the countryside and peace was still new. The land surveys formed the basis for systematic taxation.

In 1590, Hideyoshi completed construction of the Osaka Castle

This is the archytypical is a Japanese castle and is in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan.Originally called Ozakajō, it is one of Japan's most famous castles, and played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi-Momoyama period. Osaka Castle is situated on a plot of land roughly one..., the largest and most formidable in all Japan, to guard the western approaches to Kyoto
Kyotois a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area..... In that same year, Hideyoshi banned "unfree labor" or slavery
Slavery. Slavery in Japan and as in most places, is a form of forced labor in which people are considered to be the property of others. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to receive compensation...; but forms of contract and indentured labor persisted alongside the period penal codes' forced labor.

Hideyoshi also influenced the material culture of Japan. He lavished time and money on the tea ceremony, collecting implements, sponsoring lavish social events, and patronizing acclaimed masters. As interest in the tea ceremony rose among the ruling class, so too did demand for fine ceramic implements, and during the course of the Korean campaigns, not only were large quantities of prized ceramic ware confiscated, many Korean artisans were forcibly relocated to Japan.
Inspired by the dazzling Golden Pavilion Kinkaku-ji, or formally is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan.-History:The original Kinkaku-ji was built in 1397 to serve as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, as part of his estate then known as Kitayama...
in Kyoto, he also constructed a fabulous portable tea room, covered with gold leaf and lined inside with red gossamer. Using this mobile innovation, he was able to practice the tea ceremony
Tea ceremony. A tea ceremony is a ritualised form of making tea. The term generally refers to the Japanese tea ceremony. One can also refer to the whole set of rituals, tools, gestures, etc. used in such ceremonies as tea culture... wherever he went, powerfully projecting his unrivaled power and status upon his arrival.

Politically, he set up a governmental system that balanced out the most powerful Japanese warlords (or daimyo  Daimyo is a generic term referring to the powerful territorial lords in premodern Japan who ruled most of the country from their vast, hereditary land holdings...). A council was created to include the most influential lords. At the same time, a regent was designated to be in command.

Just prior to his death, Hideyoshi hoped to set up a system stable enough to survive until his son grew old enough to become the next leader. A was formed, consisting of the five most powerful daimyo. Following the death of Maeda Toshiie Maeda Toshiie was one of the leading generals of Oda Nobunaga following the Sengoku period of the 16th century extending to the Azuchi Momoyama period. His father was Maeda Toshimasa. He was the fourth of seven brothers. His childhood name was "Inuchiyo" . His preferred weapon was a yari and he was known as.very good at its use..,

Tokugawa Ieyasu began to secure alliances, including political marriages (which had been forbidden by Hideyoshi). Eventually, the pro-Toyotomi forces fought against the Tokugawa in the Battle of Sekigahara

The, popularly known as the , was a decisive battle on October 21, 1600 which cleared the path to the Shogunate for Tokugawa Ieyasu.... Ieyasu won and received the title of Seii-tai Shogun two years later. Hideyoshi is commemorated at several Toyokuni Shrines Toyokuni Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, Japan. It was built in 1599 to commemorate Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It is the location of the first tamaya ever constructed, which was later destroyed by the Tokugawa clan....scattered over Japan. Ieyasu left in place the majority of Hideyoshi's decrees and built his shogunate upon them. This ensured that Hideyoshi's cultural legacy remained


THE Japanese say that ghosts in inanimate nature generally have more liveliness than ghosts of the dead. There is an old proverb which says something to the effect that 'the ghosts of trees love not the willow'; by which, I suppose, is meant that they do not assimilate. In Japanese pictures of ghosts there is nearly always a willow tree. Whether Hokusai, the ancient painter, or Okyo Maruyama, a famous painter of Kyoto of more recent date, was responsible for the pictures with ghosts and willow trees, I do not know; but certainly Maruyama painted many ghosts under willow trees--the first from his wife, who lay sick.

During the cherry blossom season many people go to view the trees, especially at night.

Close to the Jirohei cherry tree, many years ago, was a large and prosperous tea-house, once owned by Jirohei, who had started in quite a small way. So rapidly did he make money, he attributed his success to the virtue of the old cherry tree, which he accordingly venerated. Jirohei paid the greatest respect to the tree, attending to its wants. He prevented boys from climbing it and breaking its branches. The tree prospered, and so did he.

One morning a samurai (of the blood-and-thunder kind) walked up to the Hirano Temple, and sat down at Jirohei's tea-house, to take a long look at the cherry blossom. He was a powerful, dark-skinned, evil-faced man about five feet eight in height.

'Are you the landlord of this tea-house?' asked he.

'Yes, sir,' Jirohei answered meekly: 'I am. What can I bring you, sir?'

'Nothing: I thank you,' said the samurai. 'What a fine tree you have here opposite your tea-house!'

'Yes, sir: it is to the fineness of the tree that I owe my prosperity. Thank you, sir, for expressing your appreciation of it.'

'I want a branch off the tree,' quoth the samurai, 'for a geisha.'

'Deeply as I regret it, I am obliged to refuse your request. I must refuse everybody. The temple priests gave orders to this effect before they let me erect this place. No matter who it may be that asks, I must refuse. Flowers may not even be picked off the tree, though they may be gathered when they fall. Please, sir, remember that there is an old proverb which tells us to cut the plum tree for our vases, but not the cherry!'

You seem to be an unpleasantly argumentative person for your station in life,' said the samurai. 'When I say that I want a thing I mean to have it: so you had better go and cut it.'

'However much you may be determined, I must refuse,' said Jirohei, quietly and politely.

And, however much you may refuse, the more determined am I to have it. I as a samurai said I should have it. Do you think that you can turn me from my purpose? If you have not the politeness to get it, I will take it by force.' Suiting his action to his words, the samurai drew a sword about three feet long, and was about to cut off the best branch of all. Jirohei clung to the sleeve of his sword arm, crying:



'I have asked you to leave the tree alone; but you would not. Please take my life instead.'

'You are an insolent and annoying fool: I gladly follow your request'; and saying this the samurai stabbed Jirohei slightly, to make him let go the sleeve. Jirohei did let go; but he ran to the tree, where in a further struggle over the branch, which was cut in spite of Jirohei's defence, he was stabbed again, this time fatally. The samurai, seeing that the man must die, got away as quickly as possible, leaving the cut branch in full bloom on the ground.

Hearing the noise, the servants came out of the house, followed by Jirohei's poor old wife.

It was seen that Jirohei himself was dead; but he clung to the tree as firmly as in life, and it was fully an hour before they were able to get him away.

From this time things went badly with the tea-house. Very few people came, and such as did come were poor and spent but little money. Besides, from the day of the murder of Jirohei the tree had begun to fade and die; in less than a year it was absolutely dead. The tea-house had to be closed for want of funds to keep it open. The old wife of Jirohei had hanged herself on the dead tree a few days after her husband had been killed.

People said that ghosts had been seen about the tree, and were afraid to go there at night. Even neighbouring tea-houses suffered, and so did the temple, which for a time became unpopular.

The samurai who had been the cause of all this kept his secret, telling no one but his own father what he had done; and he expressed to his father his intention of going to the temple to verify the statements about the ghosts. Thus on the third day of March in the third year of Keio (that is, forty-two years ago) he started one night alone and well armed, in spite of his father's attempts to stop him. He went straight to the old dead tree, and hid himself behind a stone lantern.

To his astonishment, at midnight the dead tree suddenly came out into full bloom, and looked just as it had been when he cut the branch and killed Jirohei.

On seeing this he fiercely attacked the tree with his keen-edged sword. He attacked it with mad fury, cutting and slashing; and he heard a fearful scream which seemed to him to come from inside the tree.

After half an hour he became exhausted, but resolved to wait until daybreak, to see what damage he had wrought. When day dawned, the samurai found his father lying on the ground, hacked to pieces, and of course dead. Doubtless the father had followed to try and see that no harm came to the son.

The samurai was stricken with grief and shame. Nothing was left but to go and pray to the gods for forgiveness, and to offer his life to them, which he did by disembowelling himself.

From that day the ghost appeared no more, and people came as before to view the cherry-bloom by night as well as by day; so they do even now. No one has ever been able to say whether the ghost which appeared was the ghost of Jirohei, or that of his wife, or that of the cherry tree which had died when its limb had been severed.


After reading the above, you will then understand why painters would want to depict the wife of Jirohei.  This beautiful painting was created  by an unknown artist with great talent It is a painting that was once on a scroll that had deteriorated and has now been remounted on a new silk scroll with a box made to fit the scroll.£135



  • Sansom, George (1958). 'A History of Japan to 1334'. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
  • Turnbull, Stephen (1998). 'The Samurai Sourcebook'. London: Cassell & Co.
  • Turnbull, Stephen (2003). 'Samurai: The World of the Warrior'. Osprey Publishing.
  • Mutsu, Iso (1995/06). Kamakura. Fact and Legend. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 0804819688.
  • Ref:

An immortal in the form of a warrior. . A remarkable painting that we had to preserve for the future enjoyment of us all. With his big white beard I always think that this is aa Japanese version of Santa Clause. The embroidered antique Kimono Silk covered box has pine needles and stylised winter mountains.  A lovely work of art in itself.£185.