Lifespan: Entoku 1 (1452) to 7/26 of Eishō 5 (1508)
Rank: bushō, daimyō, monk
Father: Furuichi Insen
Siblings: Tanehide (Inei), Chōin
Wife: Daughter of Ochi Iehide
Children: Insei, Kōin
Furuichi Chōin served as a bushō, daimyō, and monk during the Sengoku period. Chōin was from a dogō, or powerful local clan, based in the Furuichi neighborhood of Yamato and became a daimyō of the Higashiyama culture. He served as an administrator among the monks at the Kōfuku Temple in Nara.
At the age of fourteen, Chōin entered the Hosshin sub-temple at the Kōfuku Temple where his uncle, Furuichi Senin resided. He adopted the name of Rinkanbō-Chōin. He became a warrior monk affiliated with the Daijō sub-temple of the Kōfuku Temple. In 1475, owing to the retirement of his older brother, Tanehide (or Inei), Chōin left the temple and inherited the family. During the Ōnin-Bunmei War, Chōin led the monks from the Kōfuku Temple and joined with Ochi Iehide (his father-in-law) and Hatakeyama Yoshinari to oust Tsutsui Junson, Tōichi Tōkiyo, and Hashio Tamekuni, and expand their influence in Yamato. In 1493, Chōin was appointed to serve as the deputy military governor of the Sōraku and Tsuzuki districts in southern Yamashiro by Ise Sadamichi, the military governor of Yamashiro Province and director of the mandokoro (office of house affairs) of the Muromachi bakufu. Chōin then entered southern Yamashiro and suppressed the Yamashiro ikki. This was an autonomous body formed in 1485 through the cooperation of kokujin, or provincial landowners, and peasants in the three upper districts (Sōraku, Tsuzuki, and Kuse) in the southern half of Yamashiro to eliminate the political influence of the Hatakeyama clan who served as deputy military governors. The alliance lasted for eight years until its suppression by Chōin. Thereafter, he supported the invasion of Yamato by Akazawa Tomotsune – a bushō under the command of Hosokawa Masamoto.
After taking control of one-half of the Yamato area, Chōin achieved a status similar to a military governor of Yamato and operated under the name of Priest Furuichi Harima. Exerting his authority, he constructed Furuichi Castle with a fief of 60,000 koku. In 1508, Chōin affiliated with a bushō named Akazawa Nagatsune (the adopted son of Tomotsune) under the command of Hosokawa Sumimoto (one of the adopted sons of Masamoto) to attack Hatakeyama Hisanobu, the lord of Takaya Castle in Kawachi Province. However, after fleeing in defeat, he took his own life.
Chōin was an individual who rose from humble beginnings to become a daimyō in an outlying area. For a period, he enjoyed more frivolous pursuits such as gambling by which he earned several hundred kan or searching far and wide for a horse that would be renowned, but he was also a deep believer in the Buddhist faith and had exchanges with aristocrats, nobles, high-ranking priests, artists and the like, earning notoriety as a cultured individual based on his knowledge of the tea ceremony and recitations from nō and sarugaku drama, as well as his talents with the shakuhachi, or bamboo flute. He also had an appreciation for aesthetics. He received works from a master of renga, or linked-verse poetry, named Iwashiro Kensai, and Chōin’s own phrases were even added to a compilation. The foundation stone for a famous bonseki, or miniature landscape, owned by the Nishihongan Temple was said to have been located by Chōin from among the stones used to hold down the roof of a merchant’s house in Nara.
Interests in the tea ceremony
Originally, the Furuichi family held tea ceremonies known as rinkan-chanoyū. Rinkan means a summer bath, combining the enjoyment of a bath and tea. According to records kept by his older brother, Tanehide, in addition to the bath, he planted pine and bamboo trees in the garden, configured the hillside for a waterfall, planted flowers around the area, displayed Chinese paintings, burned incense, set out bowls with lids, and hosted over one hundred guests at a time. While enjoying the surroundings and works on display, the attendees would drink tea and enjoy banquets in a festive style.
Perhaps for this reason, Chōin learned from a tea master named Murata Jukō of a different style than his family and became his best disciple. The works sent by Jukō famously describe the extravagant settings for kuge, or nobles, and bushi to indulge in their passion for tea competitions as Jukō endeavored to guide his disciple in the art. In another work by Jukō, he responded to questions in regard to the seasonal flowers arranged for a tea ceremony by Chōin. And, in other works, Chōin is named along with other renowned masters of the tea ceremony.
In the Edo period, a descendant of Chōin named Furuichi Ryōwa served as the head of tea ceremonies for the family of Ogasawara Iefusa (the Kokura domain) which was renowned for teaching equestrian arts and etiquette. The knowledge of tea ceremony and manners inherited from Chōin as the best disciple of Jukō fused with the customs of the Ogasawara family, giving rise to the traditional Ogasawara school of tea ceremony that survives to the present day.