Although 27 years have passed since the great tea master Sen no Rikyu died on the order of the taiko, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, his favorite and last disciple, Hongakubo communicates with him daily as if he were still alive.
One day, Hongakubo receives a surprise visit from Lord Oda Urakusai, who has become obsessed with the reason Hideyoshi had become so angry with Sen no Rikyu and why he ordered him to commit ritual suicide. Hongakubo is moved by Urakusai’s earnestness and one year later decides to tell him what he knows
about a certain tea ceremony held at the Myokian Tea House in Yamazaki, Rikyu’s favorite in his later years.
This mysterious tea ceremony continued until midnight. There were only three participants: the master Rikyu, Lord Soji Yamanoue – who turned against Hideyoshi at the fall of Odawara Castle and later committed ritual
suicide and a third person whose identity Hongakubo couldn’t ascertain. One year after that, Urasukai discovers that this third person must have been Lord Oribe Furuta, one of Rikyu’s disciples. Oribe had also committed ritual suicide, following Rikyu and Soji Yamanoue, as he had betrayed the Toyotomi’s at the fall of Osaka Castle. The three, in fact, had sworn to die by their own hands at that mysterious midnight tea ceremony. Death had taken on great significance to these three devotees of tea.
The following year Urakusai becomes critically ill. Longing to find out about Rikyu’s state of mind before his death, he sends for Hongakubo, who recounts a recent dream he had had regarding the last tea ceremony of Rikyu and Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi rescinds his order for Rikyu’s death, but Rikyu declares that he must die to defend his honor and pride as a tea person and asks Hideyoshi to leave.
As Hongakubo’s retelling of his dream draws to a close, Urakusai understands the whole significance of death and in his imagination also commits ritual suicide to complete his own life as a tea person.
Color / Vista Vision / 1989 / 107 min. / Seiyu
Hongakubo : Eiji Okuda
Senno Rikyu : Toshiro Mifune
Hideyoshi Toyotomi : Shinsuke Ashida
Urakusai Oda : Kinnosuke Yorozuya
Soji Yamanoue : Tsunehiko Kamijo
Oribe Furuta : Go Kato
Executive Producer : Toshiaki Takaoka
Producer : Kazunobu Yamaguchi
From a Novel by : Yasushi Inoue
Screenplay : Yoshikata Yoda
Photography : Masao Tochizawa
Art Director : Takeo Kimura
Music : Teizo Matsumura
Flower Arrangement : Toshio Kawase
Director : Kei Kumai