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Bruce A. Coats

(b Nagahami, Ōmi Prov. [now Shiga Prefect.], 1579; d Fushimi, nr Kyoto, 1647).

Japanese tea ceremony master, designer and construction supervisor of numerous palaces, castles and gardens. He was one of the most influential figures in Japanese art during the early 17th century. He is noted for the courtly refinement of his designs, which were elegant yet understated, innovative yet respectful of traditions. Few of the many buildings and gardens attributed to him remain in their original form, but his style is found throughout much of Japan. A disciple in his youth of Furuta Oribe, he practised an elaborate style of tea ceremony, and his name has become associated with a tea-room design that is spacious and luxurious without being ostentatious.

Enshū’s father, Kobori Masatsugu (d 1604), was a samurai who served the military leaders Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542–1616) as castle architect and construction supervisor. In 1596 Enshū assisted Masatsugu with work on Fushimi Castle (completed 1594...