Sen Rikyu, (1522 – 1591) was the greatest tea master of his age and directly influenced the Japanese tea ceremony as we know it today. I have been a long time tea student and saw this film when it first came out in 1989, but just recently saw it again online. It’s a fantastic portrait of the age, of the man, but I was most impressed with the beauty of the film and it’s accuracy of tea room architecture, costume, and tea ceremony objects and methods of making tea. 

The director is Hiroshi Teshigahara, who is known also as an Ikebana flower arranger. When you watch the film, notice the flower arrangements in the background. Especially beautiful is the paper tea house Rikyu and his wife make at the end of the film – and the final scene when Rikyu walks through the bamboo forest in the mist. 

The actor who plays Hideyoshi, the Shogun, may seem overly dramatic. He’s like a Kabuki actor and even his make up is very Kabuki-esque.  The actor, Rentarō Mikuni, who plays Rikyu seems to actually know how to make ceremonial tea properly. All the subtle nuances of tea are there in the movie. He also wears what we call the “Rikyu hat”  which I love. Even my Zen teacher wore one on occasion. 

Only an artist of great depth could have made this movie about another artist of such profound sensibilities. The movie can be seen here in three parts.

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

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