About > History

History of Chado

Drinking of tea, originated in China, started as a medicine, and Zen Buddhist monks used it as an aid to meditation. It was given its distinctive Japanese form by the great 16th century tea master Sen Rikyu, infusing spirituality. After Rikyu’s death in 1591, his descendants carried on the tradition, establishing three family-based schools of which Urasenke is one. 

Each of these schools passes on its practice of Chado from the family head ‒ known as the Iemoto or Grand Master ‒ to his eldest son. The current Grand Master of the Urasenke school, Sen Soshitsu XVI, is the 16th-generation of the family line which dates back to the early 1600s.

Today, Chado is recognized as a vital part of Japan’s cultural heritage. The Urasenke school, headquartered in Kyoto, plays a major role in preserving this multifaceted spiritual and aesthetic discipline and helping to acquaint foreign audiences with it (see Resources page).