Rikyu was a wealthy merchant of Sakai, a city near Osaka, during the rule of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. A man of simple taste, he had a cultivated and disciplined lifestyle and defined the term wabi cha by emphasizing simplicity, rusticness and other humble qualities in the tea ceremony.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered him to commit seppuku (disembowelment) because of strained relations between the two men. Before the ritual, he handed his tea scoop as a keepsake to his disciple Oribe who named it "tears".
See also: wabi-sabi