Chaya Shirojiro Kiyotsugu

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  • Born: 1584
  • Died: 1622
  • Japanese: 茶屋四郎次郎清次 (Chaya Shirôjirô Kiyotsugu)

Kiyotsugu, along with his brothers Michizumi and Nobumune, took over the Chaya family textile business following the 1603 death of their brother Chaya Shirôjirô Kiyotada. They worked to monopolize the trade in raw silk, and served as official suppliers of a variety of goods to the shogunate. Kiyotsugu was assigned by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu to help oversee shogunal operations at the formal trading post in Nagasaki, where he could keep an eye on the foreign traders and Christian missionaries, while working to his own commercial benefit as well.

A friend of artist Honami Kôetsu, Kiyotsugu was active socially in the Kyoto art world, and was known as both a patron of the arts in general, and a collector of tea bowls and other implements of the Japanese tea ceremony.[1]

Beginning in 1612, the family obtained official licenses (shuin) from the shogunate to outfit the ships trading with Annam (present-day Vietnam); these merchant vessels thus came to be known as chaya-sen (茶屋船, "Chaya ships").

Chaya Shirôjirô Kagayoshi and Koshirô Munekiyo, heads of the family several generations later, continued to serve the shogunate, and expanded the family business, establishing branches in Kii and Owari provinces.


  1. Though the Chaya family name literally means "teahouse", the family was famous as textile merchants, not for any major involvement in the production or trade of anything involving tea. Thus, Kiyotsugu's passion for tea implements, even if derived from his affection for his family name, is an academic curiosity, or mere coincidence.


This article was written by User:LordAmeth and contributed to both S-A and Wikipedia; the author gives permission for his work to be used in this way.

  • Chaya Shirōjirō in Frederic, Louis (2002). Japan Encyclopedia. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Sansom, George (1963). "A History of Japan: 1615-1867." Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.