Hosokawa Tadaoki was accomplished not only in matters of war, but also of peace. He was a seasoned warrior, with plenty of experience on the front lines. He was well versed in the designing of castles, and responsible for some innovations in armor. He was one of the closest students of Sen no Rikyu, developer of the tea ceremony, and a tea master in his own right. He was also a poet, a painter, and a master of lacquer ware.
After his son was given the Higo domain, Tadaoki retired there, at Yatsushiro Castle. During his retirement he commissioned the creation of the Kouda-yaki style of ceramics. Hosokawa Tadatoshi continued the family tradition of balancing martial and peaceful pursuits. He was an avid swordsman, proficient in the Yagyu Shinkage style. He also became well acquainted with the legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi, a friendship that highlighted his balanced approached to samuraihood. The two initially met at a poetry circle in Kyoto. Musashi’s prowess in dueling and the arts interested his son, Tadatoshi. Eventually, Musashi entered his service, and wrote the Thirty-Five Articles of the Martial Arts at his behest.
Hosokawa Tadaoki Sansai
– the Tea Master
Hosokawa Tadaoki studied tea under Sen no Rikyu, where he took the Buddhist name Sansai. He is also accorded as being one of Sen no Rikyu’s seven chief disciples.
The close nature of their relationship is illustrated in a famous occasion where Hosokawa Sansai and Furuta Oribe risked themselves to bid master Sen no Rikyu farewell at the Yodo river, following Sen no Rikyu's confinement by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to house arrest in Sakai. Hosokawa Sansai also provided one of his own retainers to give the kaishaku, the coup de grace, at Sen no Rikyu's ritual suicide. Later in life Sansai became patron to Sen no Rikyu's son Dozan whom he took into his service.
Hosokawa Sansai’s tea identity is noted as the orthodox, conservative and loyal follower of Sen no Rikyu’s wabi teachings. Furuta Oribe is generally regarded as the dynamic and inventive successor to Sen no Rikyu, whereas Hosokawa Sansai is noted as the orthodox, conservative and loyal follower of his master's teachings. Sansai has generally been overshadowed by the weight of attentiion paid to Oribe. Hosokawa Sansai did not, however, simply imitate and follow his teacher. Sansai established his own style of tea as well as his own tea rooms. Although he inherited many techniques from Rikyu, there were many others that did not show Rikyu’s influence.
Hosokawa Sansai and Furuta Oribe's relation with Sen no Rikyu as leading disciples is demonstrated by numerous occasions each received valued utensils from their master. It is well known that following the decree ordering him to commit suicide, Rikyu carved two cha-shaku (teaspoon). He gave one to Sansai and the other to Oribe. These cha-shaku were later given the names Inochi (life) and Namida (tears).
Hosokawa Sansai is credited with forming a school under the name Ichi-o Ryu. A tea treatise document attributed to him, the Hosokawa Chanoyu-no-sho written in 1642, became the basis for this school and the propagation of the Hosokawa way of tea. The influence of this tea treatise and other similar documents dating from this era is significant. The modern form of tea derives from these transmissions.
In the days of Tokugawa Iemitsu, Hosokawa Sansai was the only remaining tea master who had received the tradition direct from Rikyu, and consequently he was much in demand as a teacher among all the daimyos who were interested in the way of tea. Ichi-o Ryu was also called Hosokawa Sansai Ryu. A private tea lineage within the Hosokawa family is also known to have existed. The Hosokawa Chanoyu-no-sho is one of several treatise documents relating to Sansai’s tea practice. Others are Hosokawa Sansai Otsutai Ukegaki and the Hizo Denshin, Hosokawa Chanoyu Kikigaki, Hosokawa Sansai Chasho, Sansai Monogatari, Sansai Sandensho, Sansai Sankosetsu and Sansai Kodensho.