Saturday, April 22, 2017

Tableware for Tea Time 1

Most people in Japan love tea time.  It gives us workaholic Japanese a valid excuse to take a breather from our hectic day.  Tea time is a precious, relaxing moment when we step away from work to sit down, talk with one another, and reconnect.

“Let’s have some tea.”, “Would you like some tea?”, and “I’ll pour some tea.” are common phrases used throughout the day between one another.  When we happen to meet up with a friend on a street, we have a quick chat and often say goodbye with “Let’s have some tea next time.” Even an old, stereotypical pick-up line is “Wanna go have some tea?”.  Tea seems to play a unique role in creating intimacy between people in Japan, perhaps because of the long history of influence from the Japanese tea ceremony, a ceremony of hospitality that creates intimacy between the host and the guest.

We believe a moment of tea time will be even more pleasurable experience if you have a special tea set, so we gathered a wonderful selection of items related to tea time for our event “Tableware for Tea Time” that started last week.   The following are some of the lovely items from our event that we are excited to introduce. 

 [Saori Yamazaki   Small Teapot 9,720 yen    Large Teapot 12,960 yen]

The beautiful sisters of tea pots with vine handles by Saori Yamazaki are looking radiant on display.   Yamazaki-san specializes in making tea wares in Kasama City, a city historically known for pottery making.  The teapots that Yamazaki-san makes are highly sought after by not just Japanese customers but by our overseas customers as well because they are known to be both functional and aesthetically pleasing.    The stylish, delicate form of the teapots is carefully crafted so that the spout does not drip on the side. 

 [Saori Yamazaki   Teapot] 

We are charmed by the stunning shade variation and refined form of these pots. 

 [Manabu Tanaka   Teapot 10,800 yen]

We adore this teapot by Fukui Prefecture artisan Manabu Tanaka for its soft, gentle blue and the simple form with faceted surface.  The teapot is big enough to serve tea and coffee for a group of people.  

 [Keishi Tanaka    Teapot 8640 yen    Medium Size Plate 7560 yen]

The high fired unglazed teapot by Keishi Tanaka based in Shiga Prefecture is a quiet, understated piece that reveals its true beauty after years of regular use.  Tanaka-san pride his high fired unglazed works for its durability and claims that after decades of use, his pieces gradually change their expression and in the end, they almost resemble wood.  He says that the long hours of firing with wood enables the fire to thoroughly reach to the core of the ware, thereby making his work durable for many decades of use.  The ash from wood firing gives each piece unique finish with variance in rustic pattern and color. 

[Tetsuya Kowari   Teapot  21,600 yen   Plate 2,700 yen  Cup 3,240 yen]

Tetsuya Kowari from Fujinomiya City near the foot of Mount Fuji makes pieces that are steeped in the tradition of Shigaraki-ware but also have one of a kind presence with strong, bold form.  This wood fired tea set is sure to attract attention when used in tea time and will also be a wonderful wall display. 

 [Akira Yamada   Cofee Cup & Saucer 10,800 yen    Tea Pot 21,600 yen]

Though the word “tea” is oftentimes associated with Japanese green tea, we often say “tea break” even when we drink coffee and black tea, which is why we asked some of our artisans to make pieces that go well with coffee for this event.

Kyoto Prefecture artist Akira Yamada makes beautiful pieces with stunning colors and modern, stylish design.  The remarkable contrast of scarlet and silver of this coffee cup & saucer is quite unique, and sure to make your coffee time a special moment.  

Our event “Tableware for Tea Time” will be held for a month at our store.  Please take this opportunity to find your favorite piece for a relaxing tea time. 

[Tableware for Tea Time]

Teaware for green tea, black tea, and Chinese Tea, as well as coffee cups, mugs, and accessories.  

April 15th (Sat.) ~ May 14th (Sun.)

Artisans:   Fuminari Araga, Maki Oida, Kazuhiko Kudo, Taira Kuroki, Tetsuya Kowari, Shiho Takada, Keishi Tanaka, Manabu Tanaka, Michihiro Domoto & Kumiko Domoto, Kenichi Muso, Takahiro Yahagi, Saori Yamazaki, Akira Yamada, and others. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Visit to Nobuhiko Tanaka-san's Pottery Studio

March came like a lion and went out like a lamb! Now we can enjoy the gentle April weather with the wind carrying the faint smell of fresh flowers and newly grown baby leaves. Though there may be some conceptions that the city of Tokyo is a vast sea of gray concrete, it is actually filled with small parks and gardens, in which you can enjoy all different colorful flowers and plants. Take a stroll outside to embrace spring weather, and your eyes will be met with a beautiful array of colors of seasonal, flowers: grape hyacinth, daffodil, daisies, crocus and tulip.

Tanaka Nobuhiko, a new artist in our store who we have waited so eagerly to introduce, is an artist that creates works that reminds us of such vibrant colors of spring: the colorful flowers, freshly grown leaves, and brilliant blue sky. 

We had the pleasure of visiting Tanaka-san’s studio in Iruma City, Saitama Prefecture where we  were warmly welcomed by Tanaka-san and were mesmerized by his collection of works.  
We will give you a sneak peak of Tanaka-san's colorful, sensual works that we stocked up on our visit.  They are perfect to freshen up the table for this season and upcoming summer. 

 [Mini Bowl with Lip   3240 yen    Bowl (in the front)  9720 yen    Bowl (in the back)  5184 yen] 

The works that especially caught our eye are Tanaka-san’s blue pieces.  Not only is the cobalt blue color refreshing, the thinly made simple form makes these pieces ideal for the table for upcoming hot summer weather.  

We are very excited to share some behind the scenes photos of the Tanaka-san’s studio where all the magic happens! 

In order to create his colorful works, Tanaka-san uses over thirty glazes that he himself makes with his own recipe.  

The thinly made pieces that are drawn with a potter’s wheel are carefully stored on a shelf inside a place called “muro”, a small, semi-humid room in which the ceramics are dried slowly and evenly in order to avoid creating cracks on firing. 

The surface of these cups is finished with chatter decorations called “tobi-kanna”, literally translated, jumping planer.   While the dry ware is rotated on a wheel, a flexible metal tool is held against the surface, so it jumps rhythmically, cuts nicks on the surface, and creates a characteristic pattern.   Though “tobi-kanna” is an old, traditional method typically used in Koishiwara-ware and Onta-ware, Tanaka-san’s works have a distinct modern flair that is unencumbered by the weight of traditional technique.  

These are the tools Tanaka-san hand made to make the chatter decorations.  It’s astonishing how these simple looking tools create those complex patterns. 

[Flat Plate (Olive and Yellow) each 5184 yen    Rimmed Plate 5184 yen] 

The flat plate on the left finished with chatter decorations is an aesthetic piece that reflects Tanaka-san’s contemporary, artistic sense.    

 [Flat Plate (Yellow) 5184 yen   Single Bud Vase 4860 yen    Sake Cup 3240 yen]

The muted gold color of this single bud vase and sake cup looks gorgeous when placed on a yellow chatter decoration plate. 

[Small Pot 10800 yen]

The placing of chatter marks and the amount of glaze applied are each carefully calculated and administered in order to create the stunning gradation of vermilion and pink.  

The burst of refreshing color of these soba chokos, cups for dipping sauce for eating buckwheat noodles, render a modern impression and makes them especially useful for placing fresh fruits and yogurts in the morning.  

[Soba Choko  3456 yen]

Tanaka-san strives to make pieces that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but functional as well.  Take this cup, for example.  The angle in which the handle is formed is carefully crafted so that the thumb fits comfortably when you hold the cup.  Each cup comes with different color combinations. 

 [Cup  3888 yen]

All of Tanaka-san’s pieces have a soft color palette that is soothing to the eye and are finished with a transparent glaze, which renders soft, matte finish. 

[Rice Bowl  3780 yen]

Tanaka-san’s colorful work has officially brought spring to our store!  If you are enjoying the cherry blossoms in full bloom down by the Meguro River near our store, please do stop by our store and see these colorful pieces.  


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Ceramics with Natural Textures and Earthy Tones

At long last, the days of hibernating and getting cooped up is over, and we are finally starting to feel Spring here in Tokyo!  Spring is an exciting season for people who love cooking in Japan because it is a season in which nature come back to life and offer us delicious seasonal vegetables, such as bamboo shoots and spikenard. When cooking with earth’s natural ingredients, it makes us want to use ceramics with natural textures and earthy tones, perhaps because we like to thank the earth for its blessings. To show our appreciation for nature, we would like to share two artists create works that have such textures and tones.

First is Morito Tatsuruhama, an artist based in Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture.  Tatsuruhama-san’s works are typified by their rough, earthy texture, and glaze with earthy, deep color palettes.  When looking at Tatsuruhama-san’s creations, we are humbly reminded about a simple fact about ceramics; that they are fundamentally made of natural elements, clay from earth, fire, and water.  

 [Morito Tatsuruhama   Large Flat Bowl with Brush Mark  7020 yen]

This is a beautiful piece finished with brush marks.   We love the contrast between the sturdy, heavy body and the light, airy brush pattern playfully made with white slip.    

 [Morito Tatsuruhama   Black Rust Glaze Flat Bowl   10260 yen]

Tatusuruhama-San’s black rust glaze is not just simple flat black, but is a more natural color with complex shades of dark brown, grey, and white. With use and age, this piece will grow depth in color and will almost resemble the dried earth.

 [Morito Tatsuruhama   Bowl  3780 yen]

Matcha bowl from the fallen leaf glaze series with rustic texture that resemble dirt as is.  The form is just perfect and is easy to hold in the palm. 

We also received many other wonderful items from the fallen leaf glaze series and withered leaf glaze series. 

Second artist is Daisuke Ikeda, who we have just welcomed to join our store.

Ikeda-san is a young artist in his mid thirties who lives in the suburb of Tokyo.  Ikeda-san started off studying ceramics making in university and went off to continue training in Shiga Prefecture, a region historically known for ceramics making.  After years of training there, he just recently moved back to Tokyo. 

While using traditional techniques of inlaying called “mishimade”, Ikeda-san’s work give off a very modern impression and inspires cooking not just for Japanese food, but Western food as well.  

[Daisuke Ikeda  Mishimade Series Flat Bowl  3800 yen]

[Daisuke Ikeda   Mishimade Series Cup  2160 yen]

This particular cup is a very versatile piece that can be used for pretty much anything.  Though called “soba choko”, a cup to store dipping sauce for buckwheat noodles, this cup can also be used for drinking coffee and tea, eating ice cream, and storing some side dishes. 

 [Daisuke Ikeda  Flat Plate from the Mishimade Series   4320 yen]  

The geometric herringbone pattern is carefully made by carving each line with a nail and inlaying it with white slip.  The bright colors of spring vegetables are beautifully shown off by the deep, muted tones of brown. 

We have a wonderful selection of items that will inspire you of spring time cooking ideas, so please come to our store to check them out.