The Yabunouchi-ryu school (藪内流)

The Yabunouchi-ryu is a school of the tea ceremony. It is also known as the Yabunouchi Old Tea Ceremony School. It keeps the style of tea ceremony in the period of SEN no Rikyu, emphasizing avoidance of frivolousness; it is the mix of wabicha (literally, "poverty tea style"; known as the tea ceremony) led by Jouou TAKENO/Rikyu with an influence of tea manners of samurai family led by Shigenari/Shigeteru FURUTA. The tea house, based on a design by Oribe, is called Ennan and is 6.19 square meters (3 tatami mats and one daimedatami mat) with seats for participants. Since the school's head family, the Yabunouchi family, is based at Nishinotoin-dori Street, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto City, it is commonly called the Lower (shimo) School, as opposed to the Sansenke schools (Omotesenke, Urasenke, and Mushakojisenke) located in Kamigyo Ward and known as the Upper (kami) Schools. The school also runs the Ennan Yabunouchi Foundation and the Chikufukai students' organization.

A forefather of the Yabunouchi family was Soha YABU, Shogun Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA's doboshu (adviser specializing in the arts), who was well-versed in the secrets of the tea ceremony.

Kenchu YABUNOUCHI, the first family head, was a student of Jouou TAKENO and good friends with the older SEN no Rikyu; he succeeded Rikyu and was married with a sister of Shigenari/Shigeteru FURUTA due to Rikyu's matchmaking. However, unlike Rikyu, who was appointed to the important post of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI's tea master, Kenchu led a secluded life in the north, immersing himself in the tea ceremony. Upon Rikyu's death, he was summoned to Jurakudai, Hideyoshi's residence, to serve as tea master, though he soon resigned. He was also close to Oribe, his brother-in-law, inheriting the tea room, Ennan, from him.

In 1634, Shino, the second head of the family, was invited to Nishi Hongan-ji Temple by Ryonyo Shonin, the 13th head of the temple, with the family becoming tea ceremony instructors and continuing to receive the patronage of Nishi Hongan-ji Temple. The residence of the current Yabunouchi family is located on land given by Nishi Hongan-ji Temple. It is said that Shino was close to SEN no Shoan, the adopted son of Rikyu. His four sons, with the exception of the eldest, Keno, who became the third head of the family, became officers of the domain of Soma, the domain of Tokushima, and the domain of Kumamoto for generations. Later, the brother of Kenkei, the fourth head of the family, established a branch house and became an officer of the domain of Nabeshima.

Although the fifth head of the family, Chikushin, who is known for reviving the Yabunouchi family, lived at the same time as Joshinsai, the 7th head of the Omotesenke school and the symbol of Senke restoration, he was critical of the Sansenke for becoming pompous by accepting large numbers of wealthy merchants. He wrote many books, including "Mamuki no Okina (The Straightforward Elder)" and "Genryu Chawa (Discussions of Authentic Tea Ceremony)", that argued for a return to the original tea ceremony of Rikyu's time. The spirit of the Yabunouchi school, 'honesty, purity, courtesy, simplicity', came from the words of Chikushin. In contrast with the Sansenke, which went along with merchant culture, the Yabunouchi-ryu remained close to samurai families, as well as Nishi Hongan-ji Temple, and focused on avoiding pomp and maintaining ancient rites to the end of Edo Period.

The Yabunouchi family was also affected by the upheaval of the end of the Edo period, and the residence was completely burnt down during fighting in 1864; however, it was soon rebuilt thanks to the support of Nishi Hongan-ji Temple, which had been its benefactor since the Shino's time. Only the successor is permitted to copy Ennan, the tea room which is the symbol of the Yabunouchi family, and only if it is copied absolutely identically, and if the original room at the head of the school is lost, the oldest copy must be donated to the head; the current building was a copy which was located in Settsu-Arima and transferred to the current location. Like other schools, the Yabunouchi-ryu experienced difficulty after the Meiji restoration, but it survived and continues to exist today.

Nyumon (beginner)
Shodan (first dan, or level)
Shodan certification
Chudan (middle level)
Chudan certification
Tehodoki-kyoju (novice instructor)
Shomen (level above tehodoki-kyoju)
Waki-kyoju (assistant instructor)
Shomen certification
Jun-kyoju (instructor)
Jodan (Top level)


List of heads of the Yabunouchi family