When one hears the word chanoyu or perhaps the more common phrase tea ceremony, one associates it with the idea of a harmonious culture of drinking tea, which is thought to be iconic for Japan. The grandmaster Sen no Riky?? (???, 1522 – April 21, 1591) played a vital role in the history of chanoyu; some would argue that he is the most well-known tea master in Japan even today.
It is important to acknowledge that this gentle and refined art transcended a simple social gathering around tea. With its growing popularity in the time of the unification of Japan, it became a medium which enabled people to socialize not only inside the social classes they belonged to but also between the members of different social classes.
As a tea master, Riky? had a great influence on the occurrences in the time of unification. In this thesis, I will strive to explain how Riky??became not only the most influential tea master in Japan, but also one of the most influential men of his time. His influence expanded with the rule of his patrons, the mighty warlords Oda?Nobunaga?and his heir Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The master perfected a new type of chanoyu, which represented entertainment as well as a means of achieving the warlords’ political and military ambitions. Consequently, it served as a more peaceful way of uniting the nation. Diplomacy was also achieved through this art, which meant that there was less need to resort to more violent methods of establishing proper hierarchy and rule.