Death of a Tea Master (1989) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Years after the death of legendary tea master Rikyu, his disciple Honkakubo attempts to resolve the mystery of the master's death. Years before: Sen Rikyu is a ceremonial tea master who advises warlord Hideyoshi in sixteenth-century feudal Japan. His daughter, the beautiful Lady Ogin, has an unrequited love for Lord Ukon, who has angered Hideyoshi by becoming a Christian convert. Ogin's father Rikyu also displeases Hideyoshi by opposing the warlord's plan to invade China and Korea. When the animalistic Hideyoshi is rejected by Ogin, he threatens her and her father with arrest and worse.


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  • In thsi meditative historical drama, the "Tea Master" Sen no Rikyo (Mifune), who was included in the shogun Toyoto Hideoyoshi's (Ashida) close circle of advisors. Rikyu popularized the famous WABI-SABI aesthetic central to art and culture in 16th C Japan, including architecture, ceramics and garden design. His disciple Hokakubo (Okuda) attempts to discover the reasons for Rikyu's ritual suicide. When the shoguns put an end to the factional fighting between the various regional warlords, they were forced to hang up their swords and armor and concentrate on cultural pursuits and honor. It seems that the "tea masters", equally dedicated to the "Way of Tea" almost as militantly as their lords were to Bushido, the Way of the Warrior, also decide to take an equally strict attitude towards Life and Death in this new world.

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