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!!