What is the difference between Omotesenya, Urasenya and Mushanokoji styles?

What is the difference between Omotesenya, Urasenya and Mushanokoji styles?
Sado is a traditional Japanese culture. It is not simply about making tea, but also has "wabi-sabi" in its depth, and you can learn about the aesthetic sense and customs unique to Japan. One of the biggest concerns for those who want to start Sado is "which styles to join. In order to choose a style, you must first learn about the different styles. In this article, we will introduce three representative styles of Sado. We hope you will find it helpful in choosing a style.

What are the "three senya" schools, Omotesenya, Urasenya, and Mushanokoji Senya?

There are three representative styles of Sado, known as the "San-senke.
  • ●Omotesenya
  • ●Urasenya
  • ●Mushanokoji Senya
Mushanokoji Senke These three styles were originally created by Sen no Rikyu, but they were divided into three different schools in later generations, and their emphasis, manners, and methods of tea preparation and dissemination became different. Let us first look at the characteristics and differences one by one.


Omotesenkeis the head family of the Senya School of Sado. The Soke is located in "Teranouchi-dori, Ogawa-dori, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto City. Omotesenkeis represented by a tea room named "Fushin'an. The name comes from the Zen term "ibukashi hana hiraku kon no hana" , which means to admire the greatness and wonder of nature. It is currently managed by the Fushin'an General Incorporated Foundation. The successive heads of Omotesenkeare as follows
  • - The first generation: Rikyu
  • - Second generation: Shoan
  • - The third generation: Sotan
  • - The fourth generation: Koshin
  • - The fifth generation: Ryoukyuu
  • - The sixth generation: Genso
  • - The seventh generation: Tennen
  • - The eighth generation: Ken o
  • - The ninth generation: Kokyuu
  • - The 10th generation: Sho'o
  • - The eleventh generation: Zuiou
  • - The 12th generation: Seisai
  • - The 13th generation:Mujin
  • - The 14thgeneration :Sodan/Jimyosai *Sai-go
  • - The fifteenth generation :Soza/Yuyusai *Sai name
This style began with Sen no Rikyu, the first generation, and became known as Omotesenkewhen it split off from the other two styles when Koshin, the fourth generation, succeeded to the Fushin an style. The 15th generation, Yuyusai, succeeded his father, Sotan Jimyosai, in 1955. It is a rather conservative style that emphasizes tradition with a sense of wabi-sabi and favors simple things. The kimonos are also preferred to be modest. Fukusas are red for women and purple for men.


When entering a room, Omotesenkebegin with the left foot and walk six steps on one tatami mat. When sitting down, the knees should be slightly spread apart, about the size of a fist for women and a stable width for men. The proper way to perform zarei is to lean forward slowly at a 30-degree angle with your hands slightly apart in a figure of eight formation on the tatami mat. The back should remain straight, not bent.

OmotesenkeTea Ceremony

When making tea, it is important not to make too many bubbles. For this reason, the chasen (tea whisk), the tool used to make the tea, is laid down inside the tea bowl. Without moving your wrist too much, shake the Chasen in the direction of the character "1" to the side, and whisk the tea just enough so that the foam does not rise. It is said that the tea should look like a half-moon when there is no foam on the surface.

Omotesenya's Hatsugama sweets

Omotesenkealso has a custom of having a confection called Tokiwa-manju at Hatsugama, a tea ceremony held at the beginning of the year. Tokiwa-manju is a sweet made in the image of young grasses emerging from the snow. Inside the white tokoroi manju is a young grass-colored white bean paste that resembles a pine tree called tokiwamagi, which has been in existence for 1,000 years.


Urasenya, one of the three Senke schools, like Omotesenya, is a branch of Omotesenkewith a tea house in "Ogawa-jeranouchi-agaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto City. It is called Urasenya because it is located on the street behind Omotesenya's Fushin'an. The name of the tearoom is "Konichian. Sotan, the third generation of Omotesenya, built Konnichian as a retreat after handing over Fushin'an to his third son, Esen. Today, it is managed by the General Incorporated Foundation Todayan. The name of the tea house is said to have come from the words of a man named Seigan, who was a guest at the opening of the tea ceremony. The words were written by Seigan, who was late and thus missed the tea ceremony with Iemoto Sodan, as a refusal to accept an appointment for the next day, on the wall of the tea ceremony room.

The successive Grand Masters of Urasenya are as follows
  • - The fourth generation:Senso
  • - The fifth generation: Joso
  • - The sixth generation: Taiso
  • - The seventh generation: Chikuso
  • - The eighth generation: Ittō
  • - The ninth generation: Sekiou
  • - The 10th generation: Hakuoso
  • - The 11th generation: Seichu
  • - The 12th generation: Jikiso
  • - The 13th generation: Tekichu
  • - The 14th generation: Sekiso
  • - The 15th generation: Hanso
  • - The 16th generation:Genmoku
  • - The 17th generation:Tanshinzai *Sai-go
This styles began as Urasenya when Sodan's fourth son "Senso," the third generation of Omotesenya, took over the Iori today. Therefore, the generations of Grand Masters are counted from the fourth generation. Urasenya has been active in the promotion of the tea ceremony as a form of school education since the 13th generation, Tetsuchu, and in the promotion of the tea ceremony abroad since the 15th generation, Hanso. As a result, it has become the most commonly known and representative style of Sado in modern times. Compared to the other two styles, the more glamorous style is preferred in terms of utensils and kimonos. Fukusas are generally red or vermilion for women, and purple for men, but other colors are also acceptable.

Urasenya's manner

Urasenya's manner is widely spread, and many people have learned or experienced it. Classes widely offered to students at culture schools and other schools are often Urasenya. In Urasenya, when entering a room, one enters with the right foot and walks one tatami mat in four steps. This is a wider stride than in other styles. When sitting down, women sit with their knees about one fist length apart and men sit with their knees about two fist lengths apart, with their legs slightly spread apart. There are three types of Urasenya zarei: shin, gyou, and so. Shin is the most polite form of bowing. From the seiza position, the upper half of the body is tilted forward with the palms of the hands all together on the tatami. When bowing, keep your back straight and do not hunch over.

A little shallower than true is the bow called gyo. Place the part up to the second joint of the finger on the tatami, and from the seiza position, raise the hips slightly and bow. Again, make sure that your back is not bent. Kusa is the lightest bow. Bow with the second joint of the fingers touching the tatami mat, and bend your elbows lightly.

How to prepare tea in the Omotesenkestyle

When making tea, the tea whisk is placed in the tea bowl in an upright position, and the fine bubbles are made by shaking the whisk with the wrist. Finally, draw out the Chasen with the character "no" and let the center of the tea rise up. The entire surface should look like it is covered with bubbles. It should taste mellow and easy to drink.

Urasenya's Hatsugama Sweets

At Urasenya's Hatsugama, it is standard to receive sweets called hanabira-mochi (hanabira rice cake and caltrops), which are said to have been made in connection with a New Year court ceremony in the Heian period (794-1185). Hanabira-mochi is a white rice cake with peach-colored white miso paste and sweetened burdock root sandwiched between two pieces of white rice cake. It is made to resemble "oshiyu (sweetfish)," which was considered a festive menu item. A thin diamond-shaped rice cake dyed reddish-brown and layered inside a white rice cake is also available, and is called a "hishihanabira mochi. It looks gorgeous and is a New Year's delicacy.

Mushanokoji Senya

The last of the three Senke styles is the Mushanokoji Senke. The name comes from the Mushanokoji Senke's tea house, Kankyuan, located on Mushanokoji-dori, Ogawa-higashi-iru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto City. Currently, the Kankyuan is managed by the General Incorporated Foundation. The successive Grand Masters of Mushanokoji Senya are as follows
  • - The fourth generation: Ichiou
  • - The fifth generation: Bunshuku
  • - The sixth generation: Shinpaku
  • - The seventh generation: Kenso
  • - The eighth generation: Kyuoh
  • - The ninth generation: Nin'o
  • - The tenth generation: Zendo
  • - The eleventh generation: Isso
  • - The twelfth generation: Choso
  • - The thirteenth generation: Tokuo
  • - The fourteenth generation: Futetsusai (*Saigo)
Mushanokoji Senya is a branch of Omotesenya, the same family as Urasenya, and was started by Ichio, the second son of Sodan, the third generation of Omotesenya. Ichiou left home to make a living in another industry before returning to the world of tea to found Mushanokoji Senya before his 60th birthday. Mushanokoji Senya is a relatively smaller style than the other two styles. Because of the repeated loss and rebuilding of tea houses in the past, the tools and styles are more rational, lean, and simple than those of other schools. It is close to Omotesenkein its emphasis on the wabi-sabi of the Sado, and may be said to be the most conservative of the three Sansenya styles. Kimonos are also traditional and sober. Fukusas are red for women and purple for men.

Mushanokoji Senya's manners

In the Mushanokoji Senke tradition, the first step into the tea room is to enter with the foot on the pillar side. The steps should be narrow, with six steps per tatami mat. The proper sitting posture is for women to sit with their legs closed and for men to sit with their knees one fist apart. When performing the zarei, from the seiza position, the left hand should be in front of the body, the hands together, and the head should be bowed with the back straight.

How to serve tea at Mushanokoji Senya

The manner in which tea is served is similar to that of Omotesenya. It is said that the tea should not be too airy, and to avoid frothing, the tea bowl is held at an angle and the Chasen is moved as if drawing a small circle.

Hatsugama sweets at Mushanokoji Senya

The Hatsugama sweets at Mushanokoji Senya are called "Miyako no Haru" (Spring in the Capital). It is derived from a waka poem and represents spring in Kyoto with two colors of kinton, green and peach. The center is filled with red bean paste.

Specific differences in tea utensils and manners

So far, we have introduced each of the three styles. We have compiled a list of differences and similarities so you can compare them. Kimono, fukusa, manners, zarei, tea ceremony Hatsugama sweets OmotesenkeSober Vermilion (women) Purple (men) Enter from the left foot Take 6 steps and sit with knees slightly open Bend the body about 30 degrees with hands in a figure of eight position Do not whisk too much Tokiwa-manju Urasenya Gorgeous Red or vermilion (women) Purple or other color (men) Enter from the right foot Take 4 steps and sit with knees slightly open Bend your body in three steps (true, row, and grass) and whisk firmly Hanabira-mochi Mushanokoji Senya Sober Vermilion (female) Purple (male) Enter from the foot on the pillar side Six steps to one tatami Sit without opening your knees as much as possible Left hand in front of you, hands together, head down Do not whisk too much Do not let air in as much as possible Miyako no haru (Spring in the capital)

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