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Les nourritures terrestres, Enshu Kobori

"Le goût du thé est comme les brumes du printemps, comme le coucou caché dans les jeunes feuilles vertes de l'été, comme la solitude du ciel d'automne un soir, comme l'aube dans la neige de l'hiver"

Enshu, Kobori
A master of tea, architecture, garden design, calligraphy and poetry, he was a multi-talented leader of early Edo culture
Enshu was initially in the service of Hideyoshi's brother Hidenaga, but after that lord's death he aligned himself with Hideyoshi himself. Then, on Hideyoshi's death, he entered the service of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
In 1604, Enshu's father died suddenly leaving him in possession of the state of Omi, valued at 12,000 koku. He successfully completed works on the Sento Palace (the emperor's residence) and at Sunpu Castle, and was rewarded with the marshalcy of Omi. He also designed and constructed the keep of Nagoya Castle, Matsuyama Castle, and the study in the central enceinte of Fushimi Castle. Finally he built the central enceintes of the shogunal castle at Nijo-jo (in Kyoto) and of Osaka Castle.
His greatest claim to fame is as a tea master. He studied under Sen Rikyu's student Furuta Oribe, evolving a style of tea known as 'refined austerity', which aspired to fuse the classical court taste with that of the newer military elite. His role was pivotal in creation of the early modern tea ceremony, with its emphasis on self-cultivation and Confucianism.
Enshu designed many tea houses including the Hoden-seki in the subtemple of Koho-an at the Daitoku-ji, and the Mitsuan-seki at the Ryuko-in of the same temple. He was tea advisor to the shogunal family for fully 36 years.
Enshu's talents were many, and ran to garden design, architecture, calligraphy and poetry.


Imperial Villa Katsura

"Set in wooded surroundings within the ancient perimeter of the imperial capital, Kyoto, the rikyu, or separated residence, of the Katsura Palace is the finest product of a secular and unofficial tradition. It was built in the opening decades of the 17th century by Kobori Enshu, tea ceremony master and architect, who sought to express his ideals of rustic simplicity and picturesque nature on a larger scale than had been attempted before.

"Of the three main component buildings, Ko-shoin, Chu-shoin and Shin-goten, the first is in the more ceremonial shoin style and the latter two in the more intimate sukiya style. From the 14th century the cultivated nobility increasingly rejected the ornate grandeur of the town palace for an architecture designed above all to harmonize with a natural setting. Sukiya traces its origin to the farmer's cottage and the mountain hut, whose aesthetic was already distilled in the ceremonial tea-hut."

"The buildings of the Katsura were framed in light timbers, using the triangular truss in the roof, and closed by plain walls, lacking the pillars, brackets, foundation podium and lean-to ambulatory of the Chinese style. Intimacy, almost too carefully contrived, is the keynote. From the start, the rooms and bays were laid out in multiples of the tatami, or rice-straw mats, used on floors in all classes of domicile for sitting and lying. Wood was left plain, sometimes even retaining its bark."






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