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Omotesenke (表千家?, lit. "front Sen house/family") is the name of one of the three houses or families (家) that count their family founder as Sen Rikyū and are dedicated to carrying forward the Way of Tea that he developed. The other two are Urasenke and Mushakōjisenke. The three are together referred to as the san-Senke (三千家; lit, "three Sen houses/families"). The hereditary name of the head (iemoto) of this line of the family is Sōsa.
The Omotesenke estate, known by the name of its representative tea room, the "Fushin-an" (不審庵), was where Sen Rikyū's son-in-law, Sen Shōan, reestablished the Kyoto Sen household after Rikyū's death. It is located on Ogawa street in the Kamigyō ward of Kyoto. Shōan's son Sōtan soon succeeded as the family heir and head of this estate. The next heir to the estate and family tradition was Sōtan's third son, Kōshin Sōsa, counted as the fourth generation in the Omotesenke family line. Sōtan, when he was ready to retire and gave the headship of the family over to Kōshin Sōsa, established his retirement quarters on adjacent property in the north, building a tiny tea room there, the "Konnichi-an" (今日庵）. Eventually, Sōtan's youngest son, Sensō Sōshitsu, inherited that part of the estate, which came to known as the home of the Urasenke.
There are small stylistic differences between the different schools. For example, the Omotesenke school whisks the tea less than the Urasenke school, creating less foam on the top of the tea. Also, Omotesenke uses a susudake chasen, or darkened-bamboo tea whisk, while Urasenke uses untreated bamboo for its chasen or tea whisk.
The Fushin-an estate, where the 3rd generation, Sōtan, lived until retirement, is the home and headquarters of Omotesenke.
The Kitayama Kaikan in Kyoto is a relatively modern Omotesenke facility, where Omotesenke sponsors exhibitions, lectures, and other educational programs for the general public.
Licenses and course of study
Licenses or permissions are called kyojō (許状), menjō (免状) or sōden (相伝). They allow students to study certain tea procedures.
|Nyūmon (入門 entrance）||Starting with warigeiko (割稽古 basics) and ryakutemae, basic light tea and thick tea and charcoal procedures and knowledge of Tea Ceremony||students can apply for Nyūmon immediately or soon after starting their studies. Nyūmon and Naraigoto can be applied for at the same time.|
|Naraigoto (習事 things to learn)||kumiawasedate, shikumidate, nagao, bonkōgo, hanashomō, sumishomō|
|Kazarimono (飾物 display)||jikukazari, tsubokazari, chairekazari, chawankazari, chashakukazari, daikazari, chasenkazari|
|Satsūbako (茶通箱 tea box)||procedures using the Satsūbako|
|Karamono (唐物 Chinese ware)||procedures using Chinese wares||-tea name
-Kōshi (講師 teaching permission)
|Daitenmoku (台天目)||procedures using the tenmokudai|
|Bonten (盆点)||procedures using a square tray||Kyōju (教授 professor)|
|Midarekazari (乱飾)||procedures using a daisu|
|Shindaisu (真台子 formal tana)||procedures using a formal daisu|
The first skills a student in any Tea school learns are the warigeiko, literally divided or separate training. The warigeiko are skills practiced separately from actual temae (tea or charcoal procedures); since they form the basis of temae, they must be acquired before a student begins making tea. They include:
- Basic tea room knowledge
- opening and closing sliding doors; walking in the tea room; how and where to sit; how and when to bow; basic guest behaviour including use of fans
- folding, opening and handling the fukusa
- the natsume is the first type of tea container students learn to use. Skills include how to fill the container with tea; how to pick it up, hold it, and put it down; how to purify it
- how to handle and purify the tea scoop
- how to handle the ladle; special movements for hot and cold water
- how to handle the tea whisk; how to whisk tea
- how to fold the tea cloth; how to use it to clean the tea bowl
- how to handle the tea bowl as both a host and a guest
|Generation||Personal name||Buddhist name|
|1st||Rikyu Sōeki (1522-1591)||利休 宗易||Hōsensai||抛筌斎|
|2nd||Shōan Sōjun (1546-1614)||少庵 宗淳|
|3rd||Genpaku Sōtan (1578-1658)||元伯 宗旦||Totsutotsusai||咄々斎|
|4th||Kōshin Sōsa (1613-1672)||江岑 宗左||Hōgensai||逢源斎|
|5th||Ryōkyū Sōsa (1650-1691)||良休 宗佐||Zuiryūsai||随流斎|
|6th||Gensō Sōsa (1678-1730)||原叟 宗左||Kakkakusai||覚々斎|
|7th||Ten'nen Sōsa (1705-1751)||天然 宗左||Joshinsai||如心斎|
|8th||Ken'ō Sōsa (1744-1808)||件翁 宗左||Sottakusai||啐啄斎|
|9th||Kōshuku Sōsa (1775-1825)||曠叔 宗左||Ryōryōsai||了々斎|
|10th||Shōō Sōsa (1818-60)||祥翁 宗左||Kyūkōsai||吸江斎|
|11th||Zuiō Sōsa (1837-1910)||瑞翁 宗左||Rokurokusai||碌々斎|
|12th||Keiō Sōsa (1863-1937)||敬翁 宗左||Seisai||惺斎|
|13th||Mujin Sōsa (1901-1979)||無盡 宗左||Sokuchūsai||即中斎|
|14th (current iemoto)||Sōsa (1938-)||宗左||Jimyōsai||而妙斎|