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The iemoto system is a distinctive feature of Japanese performing arts. “Iemoto” primarily refers to the head of a school of a certain performing art, and normally the title is transmitted from father to son in the family of the founder of the school.

In the world of Japanese tea culture, chanoyu, each school of tea has a iemoto, and these iemoto lead the school and the chanoyu world. The system is not limited to chanoyu: flower arrangement and incense traditions have iemoto, and until the late 19th century, even board games, for example shôgi and go, followed the iemoto system.

The earliest use of the word iemoto is found in a letter written by a famous painter, Hanabusa Itchô (1652 – 1724), in which he called the Kanô house where he had trained “iemoto”.

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