The founder, Lord Kobori Enshu Masakazu, was the feudal lord of Tohtoumi(now Shizuoka Prefecture) in the early Edo Era. He,along with Murata Juko, Takeno Jyoo, Senno-Rikyu, and Furuta Oribe,is renowed as one of the greatest tea masters to inherit the tradition of Japanese Sado(Tea Ceremony).
Enshu was a pivotal figure in the ruling circles, serving as the official tea instructor for the second and third Shoguns of Tokugawa, Hidetada and Iemitsu. He served as the magistrate of Fushimi in Kyoto and also as the construction commissioner in charge of building the famous castles such as Sunpu, Fushimi, Osaka, and Kyoto Nijo Castles. Such representative gardens in Kyoto as Daiｔokuji Kohoan, Katsura Rikyu, Nanzenji and Konchiin were built under his supervision and planning.
Enshu was also talented in calligraphy and waka, 31-syllable Japanese poetry. He originated a new style of tea ceremony, which is now called the Enshu Sado School. The spirit of Enshu Sado lies in " Kirei Sabi ", or gracefulness and simplicity. Kirei Sabi has its origin in ancient Japanese sense of beauty which is closely related to waka of the Heian period.
He also rendered great services in instructing potterymaking such as Takatori ware, Tanba ware, Shigaraki ware. Furthermore, he purchased specially designed tea utensils from China, Korea, Vietnam and the Netherlands.