Tsuda Sōgyū


Tea Ceremony

Tea Master


Tsuda Sōgyū was a merchant and tea master in Sakai during the Azuchi-Momoyama period.  He lived from [15xx] to 4/20 of Tenshō 19 (1591).  He is also known as Tennōjiya Sōgyū.  His common name was Sukegorō and Buddhist names were Tenshin and Yūkōsai.  Along with Sen no Rikyū and Imai Sōkyū, Sōgyū was called one of the Three Masters of the Tea Ceremony (from the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods).

Sōgyū was born as the son of Tsuda Sōtatsu of the Tennōji House (their family business), a wealthy merchant in the southern manor of Sakai.  He learned the tea ceremony from his father who was a pupil of Takeno Jōou, a local tea master.  He was indoctrinated in Zen Buddhism by Dairin Sōtō, the abbot of the Daitoku Temple.  Later, he was conferred the name of Tenshin.

Sōgyū was known as an influential merchant in Sakai, operating the Tennōji House on Ōshōji, a road running from east to west through the central commercial area of Sakai.  During the Eiroku era (1558 to 1570), Sōgyū maintained relations with the family of Shimotsuma Tango of the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple, then depended upon Miyoshi Masayasu who held sway in Sakai, then approached Oda Nobunaga after the Oda extended their influence into the area.  In the eleventh month of 1572, Sōgyū was received as a guest at a tea ceremony hosted by Nobunaga at the Myōkaku Temple in Kyōto.  On 2/3 of Genki 4 (1573), Sōgyū received a warm welcome to observe Nobunaga’s prized utensils at Gifu Castle.  In 1578, when Nobunaga visited Sakai, Sōgyū received him as a guest at his residence, attesting to the importance of their relationship.

Sōgyū also participated in tea ceremonies held by Akechi Mitsuhide.  Years later, after Toyotomi Hideyoshi took control of the country, Sōgyū earned his trust and was counted among a group of eight renowned tea masters of the era.  Along with Imai Sōkyū and Sen no Rikyū, he was granted a fief of 3,000 koku.  Sōgyū also maintained friendly relations with Kuroda Josui over a long period of time and, on 10/1 of Tenshō 15 (1587), Sōgyū joined Sōkyū and Rikyū to conduct a tea ceremony at a large-scale event hosted by Hideyoshi and held at the Kitano Tenman Shrine in Kyōto to commemorate the Pacification of Kyūshū and the construction of Hideyoshi’s palace known as the jurakutei in the Uchino area of Kyōto.

Sōgyū died in 1591.  His grave is at the Nanzen Temple in Sakai.

Other notes

Records of the tea ceremonies are detailed in the diaries of Imai Sōkyū along with those of Tsuda Sōtatsu (Sōgyū’s father) and Tsuda Sōbon (Sōgyū’s eldest son), also providing insight into the relationships and events surrounding bushō during this period.

Sōgyū’s children included Sōbon and Kōgetsu Sōgan, the 156th generation abbot of the Daitoku Temple and first abbot of the Ryōkō sub-temple.  Sōgyū’s daughter, Eikun, became a member of the Nakarai family known as practitioners of Chinese medicine, marrying Nakarai Unya and running a business in Sakai.