The art of the tea ceremony has a long history in Japan going back many hundreds of years and practiced among the cultured nobility and the imperial family. But did you know that the tea ceremony was extremely popular among some of the most feared warlords in Japanese history.
Probably the most feared warlord of them all was Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) who had a great passion for the tea ceremony. Nobunaga did not just simply participate in the ceremonies but also had a great desire to collect the most incredible tea utensils, meibutsu, as well as how to use them expertly. Nobunaga received instruction in the art of tea from the greatest masters including Imai Sokyu, Tsuda Sogyu, and Sen no Rikyu.
For Rikyu, this association meant fame and fortune, and for Nobunaga it brought qualification as a man of culture. Each used the other to increase his own prestige.
Nobunaga valued he's tea utensils immensely. A sign of how much Nobunaga valued his great general Toyotomi Hideyoshi is revealed after Nobunaga rewarded him with twelve of his famed tea pieces. On the first day of the sixth month of 1582, Oda Nobunaga held a grand tea party at the Honnoji temple in Kyoto, having brought with him several dozen of his most precious tea implements to show an assembly of leading nobles and lords of the land. But before the next day had dawned, Nobunaga was dead, the victim of one of his general's, Akechi Mitsuhide. Both Nobunaga and his meibutsu were devoured by the flames that destroyed the temple in which he was staying.