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Oda Yuraku (1548 – 1622)
Oda Nagamasu, or Yuraku as he is better known, was the younger
brother of the warlord, Oda Nobunaga. Unlike his militaristic elder
brother, Yuraku was a peace-loving aesthete, more interested in
devoting himself to the Way of Tea than the Way of the Warrior.
A student of the great tea master Sen No Rikyu, Yuraku was in
his own right a master and teacher of the tea ceremony. It wasn’t
until the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 that Yuraku’s standing within
the samurai community changed from being that of a weak samurai surviving in the shadow of his brother, to being one of respect, as he
is credited with having taken the head of Gamo Bitchu, the veteran
General who fought in the front lines of the doomed Western Army.
Gamo’s was the only head ever taken in any battle by Yuraku.
Yuraku is also believed to have given his name to the area south
east of the current Imperial Palace, and one stop south of Tokyo
Station now known as Yurakucho, where he once held land and a
Oda Yuraku was the architect of the masterpiece National Treasure
listed Jo-an tearoom, originally built in 1618 in the grounds of the
Kennin-ji, a temple in Kyoto. It was relocated to Tokyo and later
Kanagawa before finally coming to Inuyama in Aichi Prefecture in
1972, where it became part of the Yuraku gardens in the grounds
of the luxurious Meitetsu Inuyama Hotel. The grounds also feature
the tea master samurai’s former study, the Shoden-In Shoin, and
other tea ceremony houses.
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