Monday, November 28, 2016

Tableware that Makes You Want to Cook a Meal

When taking a look at Kazuhiko Kudo-san’s ceramics, our minds drift away from work and start to think about what to cook for dinner: hearty stew that warms you up from your stomach, seasoned rice with seasonal vegetables, and hot pots.  We wondered why Kudo-san’s work somehow makes us associate with comfort food perfect for cold weather, and it struck us that it probably has to do with the fact that Kudo-san works in the harsh cold northern island of Hokkaido.

Take this hexagon-shape bowl, for example.  The rough, earthy texture will probably make an ordinary stew into a delectable meal.  The small plate with green glaze on the left is made by covering the clay with white slip, and then coating it with white birch glaze, and finishing up with oxidation firing.  The temperature and firing required for this green kohiki series are different from yellow kohiki series and white birch series, so only a limited number of pieces can be created.  This small plate is perfect to set off the table coordination.

Green Kohiki Flower Petal Shape Small Plate 2160 yen
Yellow Kohiki Hexagon Shape Small Bowl 3780 yen

This “meshi-wan”, rice bowl, goes well with hearty rice, such as five grain rice, brown rice, and seasoned rice.  One of the most important aspects of rice bowl is that it must be easily held in hand when eating, unlike western dishes that are not designed to be held.  The angle of the side, the height of the foot, and the heaviness of this rice bowl are carefully made, so it is very easy to hold in hand and it fits comfortably in your palm.  

White Birch Rice Bowl  3240 yen

We especially like this medium size bowl from the yellow kohiki series.  The shape and size of this piece are just right for practical use, and the tall foot is just charming. 

Yellow Kohiki Bowl  4860 yen

We would like to reintroduce the tea pot we used for the postcard for our exhibition.  This piece with beautiful clay body will make a simple routine of sipping tea a heartwarming experience.  It comes in yellow and white.  

White Birch Tea pot, Yellow Kohiki Tea Pot   both 21600 yen

Even if the weather is rainy or snowy, a warm, home cooked meal in these ceramics will make us cheerful.  Please take this opportunity to see Kudo-san’s splendid works.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Kazuhiko Kudo’s Yellow Kohiki and White Birch

Kazuhiko Kudo is a ceramic artist that resides in Hokkaido, the most north island of Japan.  We can easily say that among many ceramists in Japan, Kudo-san is one of the arists that holds strongest principles and passion in making his work in Hokkaido.  However, his work isn’t eccentric or difficult to use.  Rather, Kudo-san’s work can be used for any kind of meal that we eat in our daily lives.  

For example, this rectangular plate (Length 32cm Width 11 cm) is big enough to easily fit pacific saury, but is just the right size so it will fit comfortably in the kitchen cupboard and used on a small table.  This reasonably priced plate is a versatile piece that can be used to serve a couple of side dishes as an appetizer plate as well.  

White Birch Comb Pattern Rectangular Plate   4860 yen
Yellow Kohiki Birch Comb Pattern Rectangular Plate (Narrow)  3780 yen
White Birch Comb Pattern Rectangular Plate (Narrow)   3780 yen

All items Kudo-san creates are made with clay from Hokkaido that Kudo-san himself digs with his own hands, a proof of how much determination and dedication making work in Hokkaido.  When Kudo-san first moved to Hokkaido, Kudo-san spent many years digging and experimenting with clay from Hokkaido, which is typically considered difficult to use for ceramics making.  After more than eighteen years of experimenting trial and error, Kudo-san was finally successful in making thin, durable tableware.  

What amazes us the most is that the earth where Kudo-san’s clay is well over 200 million year old, with ancient yellow sand from the continent that was deposited by trade wind.    In order to keep his respect for the land and humble feeling towards nature, Kudo-san continues to dig clay with his hand and a shovel, rather than using a machine.  We cannot even imagine the difficulty in digging two tons of clay each year. 

Making pieces with kick potter’s wheel and clay that he hand digs, Kudo-san’s sincerity in making work with his own hands is reflected in his artwork. 

Though they are earthenware, Kudo-san’s pieces are light, easy to handle, and durable.  One of our store staff has been using Kudo-san’s work for more than ten years and has seen at hand its durability.  These are small bowls that can be used to serve any kind of side dishes. 

White Birch Quince Shaped Small Bowl   3780 yen     (Yellow Kohiki version is available as well.)
Yellow Kohiki Quince Shaped Small Bowl   2160 yen
White Birch Small Lipped Bowl   2700 yen

The yellow kohiki series is Kudo-san’s most fundamental, signature series.  Kohiki usually refers to white ceramics that have white slips covering the clay, but Kudo-san’s kohiki has slight shades of yellow because Kudo-san’s clay body contains yellow sand. 

This is an extra-large size mug that can be used to take time and drink lots of fluid.  Fulsome piece but not too heavy because the handle is actually hollow inside. 

Yellow Kohiki Large Size Mug Cup   10800 yen

Last year was a year of a change for Kudo-san because he bought an old “onsen”, hot spring, to build his studio.  He turned an old public bath into a ceramics studio with handmade kilns.  The large plate is a piece made with Kudo-san’s new wood-fired kiln that he made last year.  

Please come to our store to see well crafted, original pieces by Japan’s northernmost ceramic artist!!  

Ash Celadon and Buncheong by Kotaro Matsuura

Our one month long exhibition with Kazuhiro Kudo and Kotaro Matsuura has started from the 5th.  We were pleasantly surprised to see many customers line up at our store before opening hours.  The crimson aannamese series, the blue and white porcelain series, and overglaze painting series quickly sold out on the first day.

Today, we will be introducing Kotaro-san’s new series, celadon.  The beautiful color and texture of the “hai-seiji”, ash celadon, series were created after years of trial testing mixture of clay and fire temperature.

A charming lotus shaped tea coaster that we introduced in our instagram.  This piece can also be used as a small plate.  

It can also be used as a tea set if it is put together with a cup from the same ash celadon series.  

Ash Celadon Carved Pattern Tea coaster   2700 yen
Ash Celadon White Flower Carved Pattern Cup (Small)   2700 yen

The plate on the right is called “Mukouzuke”, one of the dishes in Japanese kaiseki used typically to serve sashimi, from Kotaro-san’s new Buncheong series. 

Buncheong is a form of traditional Korean stoneware that started in the late 14th century in the early Joseon Dynasty.  Characterized by its bluish green tone, Buncheong is generally made by covering clay body with white slip and scraping off to make decorative patterns and then covering it with a glaze.  Buncheong was exported to Japan by practitioners of the Japanese tea ceremony and became widely known as Mishima pottery. 

This “Mukozuke” is one of Kotaro-san’s favorite pieces which he specifically requested to use in our post card for this exhibition.   We are happy to say that this piece can only be bought at our store.  Though Kotaro-san describes his Mukozuke as a bit different from his usual style with quiet and simple features, we can still see Kotaro-san’s distinctive charming style. 

Buncheong Peony Pattern Diamond Shape Mukozuke   5616 yen
Ash Celadon Flower Petal Shape Mukouzuke    4860 yen

Kotaro-san has made an ash celadon version from Kotaro-san’s specialty, Japanese quince shape plate, for this exhibition.  This is a plate that can be used to serve any kind of meal, whether inspired from the East or the West. 

Ash Celadon White Flower Marked Line Quince Shaped Plate   6696 yen  

The carved pattern is just strikingly beautiful.  

One of our staff couldn’t resist having this plate!  The plate seems to match Asian food as well, so we matched it with Bánh mì, Vietnamese sandwich. 

Please come to our store to see Kotaro-san’s simple, elegant new series!! 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Exhibition by Kudo Kazuhiko and Kotaro Matsuura

We are pleased to announce our upcoming exhibition in November. 

Kudo Kazuhiko and Kotaro Matsuura
November 5th, 2016 ~ December 4th, 2016

*Both artist will be present at our store on November 5th (Sat.)

Kazuhiko Kudo

1970   Born in Kanagawa Prefecture
1988   After graduating high school, trained with apprenticeship under Shigaraki-style artist Kiyoko Kouyama and Kenichi Kouyama 
1996   Opened his studio at home in Kenbuchi-machi in Hokkaido
2002   Moved to Asahikawa City
2003   Won “Harumi Kurihara” Grand Prize for his “Yellow-Slip Flat Bowl with Pouring Lip” piece in the National Public Contest
2012   Acquired Kyu-Asahikawa Onsen and opened Studio Banna
2013   Participated in Tupiniers du Lyon, the biggest ceramics festival in Europe, as a first Japanese participant
Currently having exhibitions in all over Japan..  

Kotaro Matsuura

1981   Born in Osaka Prefecture
2004   Graduated from Nara University, majored in Literature, in the Department of Cultural Property
2006   After graduating from  Pottery Design Department of Kyoto Prefecture Potter Technical School, worked as a ceramics painter in Kyo-yaki studio
2009   Started creating pieces in a rental studio in Kyoto Yamashina
2015~   Creating tableware in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Shapes of Tableware

The right tableware is essential in hosting an exceptional dinner party or everyday dining at home. However, tableware must not only make a meal look scrumptious, but it also must be easily handled and be functional. Japanese dishes are oftentimes picked up from the table and held in a palm while eating, so the right shape and heaviness are some of the critical elements when choosing Japanese tableware.  For example, if you are choosing a pouring vessel, the shape and heaviness must be perfect so that it fits comfortably when grasped in hand and the spout must be formed carefully so that the liquid does not drip from the side. 

In the case of Michihiro Domoto and Kumiko Domoto, not only are the couple’s works aesthetically pleasing, but the functionality of their tableware is highly notable. For instance, bowls with small lips are made by many different artists, but since the bowl is intended to be used to serve food and not liquid, the lips are usually not functional and are placed for decoration purpose only. However, the square shape bowl from the photo by Domoto-san can actually be used as a pouring vessel!  Domoto-san’s meticulous craftsmanship is demonstrated in how the liquid flow end without a single drip running from the side.   

[“Mishimade” style square lipped bowl]  (Large) 4860 yen (Small) 3780 yen

The talented couple makes myriad drinking vessels with various shapes and sizes, but features common among them are that they fit perfectly when grasped and they glisten beautifully when poured Japanese sake.    Domoto-san’s great love towards Japanese sake is definitely reflected in how well their vessels are crafted. 

The brilliant blue pieces from the photo are work made by Kumiko Domoto and are influenced by faience pieces from ancient Egypt. 

[Faience Cup]  5400 yen

The “Mishimade” technique ceramics.  “Mishimade” is a technique that carves lines with a bamboo skewer or makes dents from a stamp on red clay, and embeds them with white clay.  In the case of a joint working Domoto couple, Michihiro-san hand throws on the potter’s wheel, while his wife, Kumiko-san, handles the inlaying to create lovely “Mishimade” piece as seen in this photo. 

If you look at these cups from above...

small character that mean fortune is carefully carved!  Truly admirable hand craftsmanship by Kumiko-san is demonstrated in these small details.  

[Mishimade sake cup]  3500 yen 

This is also work by Kumiko-san inspired by earthenware from Persia. 
[Zougan cup] 3780 yen

This piece is a small vessel that can hold only up to 50 ml, but may be used for various purposes, such as a dressing pitcher for two servings, creamer, and a small sauce boat.

[Mishimade pourer] 3240 yen

This large size tea pot is perfect for tea and coffee.  Wonderful craftsmanship is exhibited in how the delicate lip and easy to grasp handle are formed.

[Mishimade pot (large)]  18360 yen 

We are currently working hard to open an online store for overseas shipment, so that we can offer these lovely pieces to everyone living outside of Japan.  We will announce our opening of our new online store on our website, instagram, and this blog, so please continue to check them out! 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Exhibition: Michihiro Domoto and Kumiko Domoto

We are very excited to announce that we will be having an exhibition of Michihiro Domoto and his wife Kumiko Domoto starting from September 3rd (Sat.) until October 2nd (Sun.).  They will be present at our store for opening day so please take this opportunity to meet the talented couple and to see their charming work.  

The artist couple creates pieces in Echizen, Fukui Prefecture, location of one of the six oldest kilns in Japan called “Rokko-You”. 

While the couple makes traditional Echizen-yaki style high-fire unglazed pieces like the pourer and the cup as seen in the photo, they also make unique piece like the blue cup on the left inspired by Egyptian and Persian faience. The two gray cups in the middle are done in “Mishimade” style, a technique originating from Korea that carves lines with a bamboo skewer or makes dents from a stamp on a red clay, and embeds them with white clay. In the case of a joint working Domoto couple, Michihiro-san hand throws on the potter’s wheel, while Kumiko-san, handles the inlaying to create lovely “Mishimade”pieces. 

This is a “katakuchi”, a sake pourer done in “Mishimade” technique.  We just love this wonderful piece because not only is it a functional piece as a pourer because the spout does not drip on the side, it can also be used as bowl to serve some side dishes. 

In this exhibition, we will be sharing new items from the “mishimade” technique series, the high-fired unglazed series, and hand formed series inspired by earthenware from Iran and Africa.  Please do come by our store if you should find yourself in Tokyo.  A heartfelt welcome will be waiting for you!    

Michihiro Domoto (土本訓寛)
Born in Fukui Prefecture in 1978 to a family that does wood crafting as a family business. Spent two years studying Bizen-ware in a technical school in Okayama Prefecture. Following his two years throwing course at Fukui Prefecture Industrial Technology Institute, trained with an apprenticeship under an Echizen-ware style artist. Opened his studio in the Echizen town in 2001 and has been making high-fired unglazed pieces using clay from Echizen, as well as glazed pieces inspired by the Joseon Dynasty.

Kumiko Domoto (土本久美子)
Born in 1976 in Hiroshima Prefecture.  Enjoying painting since her earlier childhood, studied graphic design in Takarazuka Zoukei University.  Became interested in ceramic making and moved to Fukui Prefecture, where Echizen-yaki is made.  Graduated from Fukui Prefecture Industrial Technology Institute in 2000.  Following her marriage to Michihiro Domoto, started making ceramics in a wood-firing kiln.  Inspired by old art such as earthenware from Iran and Africa, but making modern hand formed pieces in a wood-firing kiln.    

Friday, July 29, 2016

"Kohiki" Pieces by Fuminari Araga

When summer heat gets overwhelming here in Tokyo, Japan, we tend to miss white ceramics.  And not just any other white, but we wish something that seems cool, but also, quite contradictory, warm at the same time, and white that can be used with any kind of dish, whether Japanese, Chinese, Western cuisines...  We know we’re asking so much, but Fuminari Araga’s work can actually make all of these wishes come true.

Kohiki is a technique that covers the clay body with white slip and then translucent glaze.  Fascinating aspect of Araga-san’s kohiki is that as you use it, the brown color from meals or drinks gradually seep into the small cracks on the surface called crazings.  We Japanese call this “growing” or “maturing” and enjoy the gradual change of colors of the crazings.  

 [Fuminari Araga Kohiki Rinka Mukouzuke (Small Flower Petal Shaped Bowl) 2160 yen]

Even leftovers from the day before, or deli from the grocery store can look scrumptuous when served in Araga-san’s work.  This particular piece called “Rinka Mukouzuke”, rinka meaning flower petal shaped,  is the perfect size for a single serving of side dish for Japanese food. 

[Fuminari Araga Kohiki Meshi-wan (Rice Bowl)  3024 yen

A photo of “meshi-wan”, single serving rice bowl, that sits comfortably in the hand. 

Caring and handling of ceramics, handmade by an artist may seem a bit difficult, but Araga-san’s pieces are very practical: they can be used in both microwave and dishwasher.  If soaked in water before used, the ceramics absorbs the water a bit and glistens softly. 

In order to keep the subtle marks made by the hand-throwing process, Araga-san tries to avoid carving as much as possible except for the foot.  Araga-san’s highly trained throwing technique is demonstrated in his work as seen in this photo.  

[Araga Fuminari Kohiki Go-sun Bataraizara (Medium Size Flat Bowl) 3240 yen]

Small size flat bowl is also available in our store. 

Please come to our store and check out Fuminari Araga’s beautiful “Kohiki” pieces if you are in Tokyo, Japan! 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Flower Vases by Taira Kuroki and Shiho Takada

Taira Kuroki and Shiho Takada, husband and wife, are two talented ceramic artists based in Kyoto Prefecture.  Their elegant, beautiful works are characterized by the thinness and lightness that are carefully created by their excellent craftsmanship. 

Two vases by the couple:  The black glaze vase on the right is by Taira Kuroki and the ash crackling vase on the left is by Shiho Takada.  Though they have their own unique, artistic style, the couple’s work somehow complements each other’s ceramics when placed together side by side.  

Seasonal flower in a delicate and sculptural vase titled “Shizuku” (rain drop) by Taira Kuroki.  

Flowers can be easily placed and arranged in the “Shizuku” vase because the asymmetrical opening is narrow while the side has a bit of height that supports the stem.  Both aesthetically pleasing and functional, Taira Kuroki’s works are carefully designed to be used in daily life.  

The beauty of hydrangea in this photo is drawn out and enhanced by the vase from the crazing series by Shiho Takada.  Shiho Takada’s works have quiet grace and are distinguished by the gorgeous cracklings, which are created by painting the ceramics right out of the first fire with ink of natural charcoal.  

We are thrilled to be able to introduce the beauties of the highly acclaimed ceramic artist, Taira Kuroki and Shiho Takada’s works.  Please drop by our store to see their works in person if you are in the Shibuya area, Tokyo.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Ceramics by Morito Tatsuruhama

We are delighted to welcome new pieces by ceramic artist Morito Tatsuruhama. It is difficult to describe Morito Tatsuruhama’s works in a single word.  However, his work is especially appealing to those who love earthy, clay texture of ceramics.  His pieces are just the right heaviness, and its form and texture are perfect for any kind of dish that you may cook.  These finely made works, smooth on all surfaces with no roughness that a sponge and a dishcloth may get caught when washed, are especially popular because they are easy to handle. 

Morito Tatsuruhama black rust glaze all-purpose cup
dimensions:  diameter 9.5cm×height 8cm 2160 yen

Morito Tatsuruhama black rust glaze plates
(7 sun-size) diameter 21cm × height 3cm 3,780 yen 
(6 sun-size) diameter 18cm × height 2.5cm 2,808 yen
(4 sun-size) diameter 12cm × height 2 cm, 1944 yen
*Though not shown in the photo, we also carry diameter 26cm plate.

Morito Tatsuruhama flat bowl
dimensions:  diameter 18cm × height 5.5cm 3,240 yen

Morito Tatsuruhama brush-mark large plate
dimensions:  diameter 25 cm × height 3 cm 5,616 yen

The cherry blossoms by the meguro river in our neighborhood are supposedly in full bloom this weekend, but it is still a bit chilly for a long hour “hanami”, literally translated, flower viewing.  If you have time, please drop by our store on your way to hanami.