Legendary tea master Sen no Rikyu is faced with his warmongering lord's unrealistic pretensions.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rentarô Mikuni ...
Rikyu
Yoshiko Mita ...
Riki, his wife
Tsutomu Yamazaki ...
...
His wife
Tanie Kitabayashi ...
His mother
Ryô Tamura ...
Lord Hidenaga, his brother
Kôshirô Matsumoto ...
Lord Oda
...
Yasosuke Bando ...
Mitsanari
Akira Kubo ...
Geni
Keishi Arashi ...
Orike, Rikyu's friend
Hisashi Igawa ...
Soji
Ichirô Zaitsu ...
Abbott Kokei
Hideo Kanze ...
Rikyu's brother in law
Masao Imafuku ...
Ceramist
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Storyline

Late in the 1500s, an aging tea master teaches the way of tea to a headstrong Shogun. Through force of will and courageous fighting, Hideyoshi becomes Japan's most powerful warlord, unifying the country. Rikyu, through the tea ceremony and floral arrangements, tempers his lord, helping Hideyoshi focus on a single flower or be in a simple room where the shape of a cup is of most importance. But other forces fuel Hideyoshi's ambitions: the Portuguese bring a globe and guns, and he believes he can conquer Korea and China. When Rikyu raises doubts about invading China, Hideyoshi demands an apology, and Rikyu himself must find courage in the way of tea. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Genres:

Drama | History

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Release Date:

18 January 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Rikyu - teemestari  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Official submission of Japan for the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category of the 62nd Academy Awards in 1990. See more »

Connections

Followed by Gô-hime (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Rikyu
2 January 2016 | by (Croatia) – See all my reviews

Director Hiroshi Teshigahara, himself a floral master, dedicated this film to his parents (his father Sofu was an ikebana expert, as was Sen no Rikyu, the historical figure this movie follows). Based on the novel by Yaeko Nogami, Teshigahara's 1989 movie Rikyu, starring one of the best Japanese actors, Rentaro Mikuni, is a slow, meditative and challenging work defined by wabi-sabi aesthetics and restrained, yet theatrical acting.

The movie follows Rikyu during his last days, as he tries to balance the mastery of his craft and the political chaos that surrounds him. Despite living his life without interfering in politics and leadership, focused only on his art, he has to find strength to stand up to his lord, hellbent on invading China, a decision so foolish that it practically brings nothing positive to the table. The movie is very detailed in portraying the tea ceremonies and other aspects of Rikyu's life, dedicating a lot of its runtime to his craft.

Unfortunately, the movie lost me a bit when it comes to following the plot. Even though it's mostly straightforward, it suffers from the same problem as many other period pieces do - there are too many names, location names and characters to remember that it's only a matter of time before you get confused. However, the comfortable slow pace, the excellent visuals paired with Toru Takemitsu's soundtrack and Rentaro Mikuni's performance make the experience worthwhile. Also watch out for the minor roles by Kyoko Kishida ("Woman in the Dunes") and Donald Richie (an expert on Japanese cinema, who plays a Portuguese priest).


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