Kawakami Fuhaku (1719–1807) was the second son of a vassal of the Mizuno family, chief retainers serving at the Edo residence (in present-day Tokyo prefecture) of the Tokugawa daimyo, who ruled the Kishū domain (now Wakayama prefecture). In 1734 (Kyōhō 19), at the age of sixteen, young Fuhaku went to Kyoto, where he entered the tutelage of the tea master Joshinsai Tennen Sōsa (1705–51), the seventh-generation head of the Omotesenke School, who served as instructor in the Way of Tea to the Kishū Tokugawa family. Fuhaku would later spread Senke-style tea in Edo and establish the Fuhakuryū tradition of tea ceremony there.
This exhibition celebrates the tricentennial anniversary of Fuhaku’s birth, covering a diverse range of topics, from his position as disciple of Joshinsai and his distinctive taste in utensils to his relationships with the various craftsmen who made those utensils and the daimyo lords and others he himself taught. It also presents charming paintings and calligraphies that reflect Fuhaku’s character and examines his influence on modern-day connoisseurs of tea culture, such as Nezu Seizan (Kaichirō Sr., 1860–1940), whose collection formed the foundation for the Nezu Museum collection. From these various angles, we delve into the philosophy behind Fuhaku’s approach to tea, which was widely espoused throughout the latter half of the Edo period and into the modern period.