YAMADA Torajirou (Gaigaku Souyuu) having a smoke on the hookah

Sohen-ryu is a school of tea, but I have never had to fortune to attend a chakai in the style.

Souhen-ryuu and Turkey
by YAO Yoshio, Part-time lecturer at Kyoto University of Arts and Design

What sort of impressions does everyone have when thinking of Turkey? You might immediately think of it as one of the three countries famous for their cruisine and some of you might know it for being a prominently pro-Japan country. But actually, the relationship between Turkey and Japan has had a large part to do with the previous iemoto of Souhen-ryuu.
Torajirou was born as the second son of the chief retainer in Kouzuke-no-Kuni Numata-han (Gunma Prefecture, Numata City) and adopted into the House of Yamada to become the 8th generation iemoto Gaigaku Souyuu (Keiou 2-Showa 32/1866-1957). In Meiji 23 (1890) when Torajirou was working as a journalist, a warship of the Ottoman-Turkish Empire, the Erutouururu, was shipwrecked en route home in the ocean near Wakayama Prefecture, Kushimoto-chou. This incident was picked up as news and memorials were held under modern day Wakayama Prefecture. Torajirou, as a journalist, compiled a memorial and gathered donations for the families of the victims from civilians. Following the recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was deeply impressed by his spirit, Torajirou received a warm welcome personally visiting the capital of the Ottoman-Turkish Empire, Istanbul, to report the donations. After that, he worked hard as a businessman to be a bridge between the two countries. Then, in Taisho 12 (1923), inheriting the position of iemoto, Souyuu (Torajirou) launched the Souhen-ryuu bulletin “Chi-in” and made efforts for the systematision of the tea school. Recently, there have been books publish giving a new look at his life, and hereafter Torajirou has become an fundamental character when talking about chanoyu in recent history.