The Player sees a miniature tea garden in one corner of the gallery. It is the set for a Bunraku puppet play. A central area in the garden has been covered with a tatami mat. The background scenery shows a teahouse at the edge of the garden. In the distance, innumerable soldiers in full armour stand in attendance. The stage is empty except for a seated human figure cloaked and hooded in black. Clicking anywhere on the set will cause the hooded figure to rise and exit the stage. The figure returns accompanied by others similarly dressed. They carry elaborately clothed Bunraku puppets.

Supreme Commander HIDEYOSHI enters first with attendants. He takes a central position at the side of the tatami area. Other spectators and officials follow. Tea Master SEN NO RIKYU enters wearing a pure white kimono, and sits “seiza” in the center of the tatami. He is frail looking, but determined. His ”Kaishakunin” or “Second” takes up position behind him and to the left.

An attendant places an unlacquered tray in front of RIKYU. The tray contains a sheaf of white paper, a low, wide sake cup, brush and ink. RIKYU drinks the sake in two sips, picks up the brush and calmly begins to write on the paper. When he is finished, the attendant removes the tray and replaces it with another, raised tray.

On this tray is a stack of folded paper on which rests an 11” bare blade. RIKYU opens his kimono, placing one sleeve under his knee to prevent his body from falling backwards after death. He wraps the blade in the paper leaving about 1” of blade exposed. His Kaishakunin assumes a wide, low stance with sword raised high, a posture used only when assisting high-ranking individuals. The crowded garden is completely silent. A single blossom falls from a nearby tree as RIKYU lifts the blade and plunges it into the left side of his belly.

HIDEYOSHI, watching from the side, flinches, but maintains his composure. RIKYU determinedly drags the blade across his belly to the right, and finishes with a quick upward jerk of the blade. Without uttering a sound, RIKYU leans his body forward signaling that he is ready for death. The Kaishakunin slices through the back of Rikyu’s neck. HIDEYOSHI pushes his attendants aside and storms out of the garden.




DR. VILE is a Teaware Merchant from Hakata. He prepares tea for HIDEYOSHI in a small, spare room befitting the austere wabi tradition of Sen no Rikyu’s tea ceremony.

VILE: The tearoom is the one place where you may talk freely and not draw suspicion.

HIDEYOSHI: Yes, cha-no-yu has served me well. It nourishes my spirit and protects my interests.

Both men laugh.

VILE: And one wonders whose interests Rikyu is protecting?

HIDEYOSHI freezes, glares at VILE, then,

HIDEYOSHI: As you say, we may speak freely here.

VILE: This bowl is in the imayaki style of Chojiri. It arrived just yesterday in anticipation of your visit.

HIDEYOSHI: (impatient to hear what VILE knows.) You do me a great honour.

VILE: (indicating the tea bowl.) The dark ash used to colour the glaze harmonizes with the simplicity of the outer form. One strives for harmony in all things. Perhaps that is why Rikyu is anxious for you to make peace with Hojo and Date. One cannot imagine what else could be at the heart of such alliances.

HIDEYOSHI: What do you imply?

VILE: My lord, you have conquered all of Japan. You have treated both ally and enemy with justice and for that they have pledged their loyalty to you. But, there are those who desire even more.

HIDEYOSHI: There is no one who could defeat me. And, I grow weary of battle.

VILE: You are the undisputed ruler, but what of succession? Hidetsugu is an unstable heir. And Rikyu. Having stood in the shadow of greatness, perhaps he now desires the light.

HIDEYOSHI: I have known Rikyu for 20 years. He has served me well.

VILE: (mockingly) And that statue! Wearing straw sandals where emperors pass…

HIDEYOSHI lunges towards VILE, tears down the scroll behind him, smashes the tea bowls, and grabs his sword that has been left at the entranceway.

HIDEYOSHI: I would slice you open for such disrespect, but your blood would defile my sword.

VILE: My lord! You have achieved a fragile peace. Enemies wear the mask of friends. I only say this as your faithful servant!

HIDEYOSHI thrusts VILE aside violently and slices through the surrounding wall and tatami mat and storms out. VILE, cowering in a corner begins to smile.



  1. Straw Sandal
    Clicking on a straw sandal triggers a large, wooden statue of tea master Sen no Rikyu to materialize. It rises up from the sandal to tower over the Player. The statue is animated and speaks.

    Hideyoshi was a great man. Perhaps the greatest man Japan has ever known.
    He gave me the honourable name of Rikyu, and made me master of all aesthetics. I raised the tea ceremony to near divinity, and it became the mark of a true gentleman.

    Hideyoshi sought my counsel on all matters both private and political. Even after my death when he built his new palace, he demanded that it be designed “in a style pleasing to Rikyu.”

    Statue begins to silently weep.

    Was I too presumptuous to build this statue in my own honour? I know it angered him. I spoke freely against his plans to invade China and Korea. Did he suspect my motives?

    He surrounded my home with 3,000 of his best soldiers. I served tea to my closest friends and allies. Then I slit my belly open. Even with death, Hideyoshi honoured me.

  2. Hidetsugu
    The ghostly figure of Hideyoshi’s nephew, Hidetsugu staggers past drunkenly.

    Sassho Kampaku! (laughs bitterly). That’s what they called me, “the Murdering Regent.” But I was the one murdered, wasn’t I? My head on a stake, my wife and children slaughtered in the streets. Oh thank you uncle, thank you very much! Be my heir Hidetsugu. All of Japan will be yours. But you changed your mind. Didn’t trust me, did you uncle? Didn’t trust anybody.

    Stumbles away laughing.

  3. Spanish Franciscan Brother
    Dragging a large cross behind him.

    Damn heathen bastard! Steal our silver and crucify our brothers. Rot in hell you dark-eyed villain!


  1. Scroll with poem in calligraphy
    BLUE ANGEL: This is the great warlord Hideyoshi’s death poem: My life / Came like dew / Disappears like dew. All of Naniwa / Is dream after dream.
    I guess he was more fighter and lover than poet.

  2. Hideyoshi’s Armour
    Clicking causes the armour to leap out at the Player. The armour moves menacingly towards the Player, but catches its toe on a rough spot on the floor and tumbles forward, falling into pieces. The Player may choose to rebuild the armour placing each piece back on the pedestal like a puzzle.

    (Accompanying text plate)
    Armor of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598) Born to a lowly foot soldier, Hideyoshi rose to become a respected military leader. By 1590, he had become ruler of all Japan, uniting the country after a century of devastating civil wars. Hideyoshi rebuilt the war-ravaged country, and ushered in an era of culture, and peaceful governance.

  3. Guns
    Display of Portuguese guns and later Japanese manufactured guns with accompanying labels and text describing how guns played an integral role in the unification of Japan.

  4. Seppuku Instruments
    A full set of seppuku instruments with accompanying labels and text.
    Sambo = unlacquered tray
    Kozuka = knife 11.5 inches
    Washi = sheafs of white rice paper
    Sake cup
    Brush and ink
    (more research needed. Some books mention other items. Need to find examples and proper names for each item.)

    Note: all items, including the kaishakunin’s sword are discarded after the ceremony. Items such as the knife and tray are made simply and specifically for the ceremony.

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