Sen Sotan (千宗旦)

Sotan SEN (1578 - December 13, 1658) was a Japanese tea master. His father was Shoan SEN, who was a child from a former marriage of Soon SEN, the second wife of Rikyu SEN, and his mother was Okame, Rikyu's daughter. He succeeded as head of the Kyosen family, which Shoan originated. The third head of the Sen family.
The founder of the Sotan school (one of the three Sen families)

Recent research has refuted the theory that he was the son of Doan SEN, whose father was Rikyu.


Sotan, born the son of Shoan in 1578, was sent to live in Daitoku-ji Temple as a kasshiki, at the wishes of his grandfather Rikyu. It is said that Sotan was sent to Daitoku-ji Temple in order to avoid conflict concerning the succession of the family estate, because his father Shoan was Rikyu's second wife's son by a previous marriage. He studied for the priesthood under Soen SHUNOKU and entered the Buddhist priesthood.

In 1594 (there are several theories about the year), the Sen family was reestablished and at the wishes of Shoan, he returned to secular life to disseminate Rikyu-style wabicha (The wabi style tea ceremony). At about this time, Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI gave to Sotan the tea ceremony utensils that he had taken from Rikyu, putting him in the position of Rikyu's successor, instead of his uncle Doan.
However, this information is found in "Sawashigetsushu" which is a document of hearsay, making it an unproven rumor (A recent study argues that Sotan was not in the position of power.)

When Shoan retired in 1600, Sotan took over the family estate. Because his grandfather, Rikyu, was driven to jijin (commit suicide by sword) by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, he avoided involvement with politics and never sought a government position. His style further developed Rikyu's wabicha, and he considered tea to be a frugal art and went through beggar's training, which earned him the name "Kojiki Sotan" ("the beggar Sotan").

However, he was eager to find good posts for his children, sending his oldest, Sosetsu SEN, to the Maeda clan of the Kaga Domain, his second son, Soshu ICHIO, to the Takamatsu Matsudaira family, his third son, Sosa KOSHIN, to the Kishu Tokugawa family, and his fourth son, Soshitsu SENSO, to the Maeda clan of the Kaga Domain. It was during Sotan's time that the Sen family allied itself with the Hisada family through marriage.

The tea room with only two tatami mats that he built in his later years is said to be the ultimate expression of the spirit of wabicha.

He is considered the patriarch of the restored Sen family, and a memorial ceremony is held for him on November 19th each year.

Other than Sosetsu, who was disowned, his three other sons are founders of the Mushanokojisen family (second son: Shoshu ICHIO), the Omotesen family (third son: Sosa KOSHIN), and the Urasen family (fourth son: Soshitsu SENSO).

The Sotan shitenno (The big four of the Sotan school)
The four disciples who showed particular achievements were called the Sotan shitenno.