Kobori Enshu

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  • Born: 1579
  • Died: 1647/2/6
  • Title: Tôtomi no kami
  • Other Names: 小堀政一 / 正一 (Kobori Masakazu); 大有宗甫 (Daiyuu Sousuke)
  • Japanese: 小堀遠州 (Kobori Enshuu)

Kobori Enshû was a prominent tea master of the early Edo period, known for his role in designing a number of famous tea gardens and temples.

He was born the son of Sengoku daimyô Kobori Masatsugu, in the village of Kobori in Ômi province (today the city of Nagahama). His mother was from the Isono clan.

Originally named Masakazu, Kobori was given the name Daiyû Sôsuke by Shun'oku Sôen of Daitoku-ji, who trained him in the ways of Zen. He came to be called Enshû after being named Tôtômi no kami, Enshû being an alternate name for Tôtômi province. It is said he was granted this position after being asked by Tokugawa Ieyasu of which province he should like to be kami (governor), and requesting Tôtômi. In 1619, he was granted a 10,000-koku fief in at Komuro in Ômi province. Enshû was later appointed Fushimi bugyô, a position in which he served for over twenty years, rising up to more than 12,000 koku.

Enshû was appointed sakuji bugyô, in charge of overseeing construction and maintenance of buildings & sites for the Tokugawa shogunate; as such, he played a role in the design or oversight of numerous buildings and gardens, including elements of the grounds of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, Nijô castle, Edo castle, and the Sentô Imperial Palace. In 1612, he designed the temple of Kohôan, which was later incorporated into Daitoku-ji as one of its sub-temples. The temple grounds are designed to recall the idea of viewing the sea from the deck of a ship.

Enshû studied tea ceremony under Furuta Oribe, and became quite accomplished at the art, becoming known as a master in his own right. His Enshû-ryû school of tea ceremony promoted a somewhat more casual style of performing tea ceremony, a style described as "kirei sabi," meaning clean or beautiful, and sabi (appreciative of the beauty found in the worn and used). In view of his ability, Enshû was tasked with instructing Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu in the ways of the tea ceremony. He was also quite active in assessing or appraising tea wares, applying a degree of humor in devising waka to name, describe, or inscribe them.

Enshû is buried at Kohôan, the Daitoku-ji sub-temple he designed.


  • Initial text from Sengoku Biographical Dictionary (Samurai-Archives.com) FWSeal & CEWest, 2005
  • "Kobori Enshû." Asahi Nihon rekishi jinbutsu jiten 朝日日本歴史人物事典. Asahi Shimbun.