KANAMORI Sowa (Shigechika, real name) was born in 1584 as the legitimate son of KANAMORI Arishige, the 2nd lord of Hida Takayama domain. However he was disowned by his father on the very day of going to the Siege of Osaka in 1614. There are various theories why he was disowned; it's not clear at all.
After that, he moved to Kyoto with his real mother, had lived in tea blender MIYABAYASHI Genzo's house in Uji at first. In that place, there is the gate made by Sowa, and it is said that he named the tea 'Iwai no shiro' and 'Akashi' which made by MIYABAYASHI's. Also, while his staying in Uji, he carved wooden Cha-no-ki doll with old tea stump, it is said the origin of it. He also practiced Zen and became the priest under DENSOU Shouin, the 150th chief priest of Daitokuji temple; finally he was given the title of Buddhist name Sowa in the same year.
Sowa learned chanoyu from SEN Doan, first son of SEN Rikyu, and much influenced by FURUTA Oribe. Sowa's style of chanoyu won the confidence of the people of the royal palace, he was on friendly terms with HORIN Josho (priest), ANRAKUAN Sakuden(priest), KONOE Ozan(court noble), JOSHU-IN Ji'in Hosshin'no(royal prince who entered into the priesthood) and ICHIJO Ekan(court noble who took the tonsure).
Ji'in Hosshin'no, the Emperor Go-Sai and KONOE Yoraku-in(court noble) had been established the kuge(royal court)-style chanoyu, they were deeply affected by Sowa's style. Moreover, he introduced his favored tea utensils into the royal court, the MAEDA clan in Kaga domain and the others. Thus Sowa is known for discovery of NONOMURA Ninsei as a potter of Kyo-yaki ceramics and coaching him too.
MAEDA Toshitsune, the 3rd feudal lord of Kaga domain, had sympathized with Sowa for his misfortune and tried to hire him with high salary, but Sowa refused it firmly. Sowa had made his eldest son, 15 year-old Shichinosuke, serve the lord on behalf of himself.
Their service transmitted not only Sowa-style of chanoyu but also Sowa and Ninsei-style tea utensils into Kaga. After 40 years, the mainstream of chanoyu was Sowaryu, and during the rule of MAEDA Tsunanori, the 5th federal lord of Kaga, he invited Senso Soshitsu, the 4th tea master of the Urasenke family, after that both tea schools has come down to Kaga.
Shichinosuke died in 1664 when he was 55 years old, his 6 years old son Heizo Masakazu took over the Sowaryu School's tea master, but he died as young as 23 years old. Katakazu's son Takumi Nobuchika took over the 4th master when he was 3 years old. Nobuchika lived to be 49 years old, his eldest son Tamon Tomochika lived to be 66 years old. However there wasn’t any successor of Sowaryu in that time, OKUMURA Chikara’s fourth son Inosuke Nari'akira was adopted into KANAMORI family as the head of it as the 6th tea master of the school. Nari'akira was died at 55 years old, next Chikara’s fifth son Ryonosuke Tomonao was also adopted as same as his brother, but he committed suicide in 1821, the KANAMORI family was died out for a while.
Therefore, OKUMURA Chikara had took care of the Sowaryu school temporary, after consultion of the pupils, they decided that the head master of the Sowaryu shall be chosen by whose virtuous character, intelligence and being well versed in chanoyu, need not to be chosen by the blood relationship. As a result, TAGA Naomasa (Sojyo) was choosen as the 8th head tea master. Soon he retired after the succession, he had got the bit between his teeth, tried to edit the secret texts like ‘Shugyoku-sho’ and so on, that’s why he is regarded as the restorer of the school, but he died to be 38 years old. His high-ranked disciple, KUNORIFU Seirei (Mokumoku) succeeded the 9th, and his eldest son Shisho-an Ippo succeeded the 10th head master.
Since after the Meiji Restoration, it had been the dark days for a number of Japanese traditional cultures from the chanoyu to the others. The high-ranked disciple ADACHI Hiromichi (Shisho-an Soko) who had served a Shinto ritual succeeded the 11th head master and tried hard to revive the social culture. After his death, TATSUKAWA Soko (Shisho-an) succeeded the 12th and made the 11th master's tea house relocated to his own residence. Next, TATSUMURA Soko (Ginpu-an) was going to be the 13th, he made the contribution to the school by editing the book titled 'Sado Sowaryu' and writing 'Shugyoku-sho' and distributed it to the public. TATSUMURA Soei (Sui'in-ken) succeeded the 14th after Soko, her husband, passed away. She moved to Tokyo with an advice from HATAKEYAMA Sokuoh, has made the school developed in Tokyo area. After her death, her eldest son TATSUMURA Soko succeeded the next, but he was much too busy to be the head master with his family business, HORI Soyu (Seisei-an), the president of Tokyo Sowa-kai, supported him. Soyu took over the school after his death. In November 2002, Soyu has passed away and MASUDA Souji (Zuishi-an) succeeded the 17th. Souji yielded the position of the head of Sowaryu tea school to UDAGAWA Soko in January 2015; he is the present one since then.