The ruins of old kilns were discovered when an athletic park was being constructed in Handa City, Aich Prefecture. They are considered to be the kilns used from the middle of the 12th to the early 13th centuries. Currently, 3 of the eight kilns are preserved in their original forms and displayed inside the preservation center in the park.
From their relatively small sizes, they are supposed to be used mainly for firing small vessels including bowls, which are called “Yamajawan” by locals. Yamajawan, literally meaning “a mountain bowl,” is a defected product that was thrown away around the kilns. When the mountains were cultivated by the people in later periods, they discovered a lot of pottery bowls and called them “Yamajawan.” There are supposed to have been thousands of kilns built in the mountains in Chita Peninsula.
Chasen is one of the utensils of the Japanese tea ceremony. It is a bamboo whisk to mix matcha with hot water evenly in a bowl and make it foamy. There are about 120 kinds of chasen with variety of shapes, materials and the number of ears at the head. Which chasen to select depends on a school of tea ceremony or a tea master’s preference. Basically there are two kinds of chasen; Kazuho, which has thin and sparse ear at the head, is used for usucha (thin tea), while Araho, which has thick and dense ear at the head, is used for koicha (thin tea). To use a chasen in a formal manner, one holds a chawan (tea bowl) with the non-dominant hand and holds a bamboo handle of chasen with a thumb, the index finger and the middle finger of the dominant hand. Here, we can see emphasis on the formal beauty that is in common with calligraphy. Chasen is an indispensable tool for Japanese tea ceremony culture.
Toshiro Uchida is a silver craftsman from Tokyo and was born in 1925 in Daito-ku, Tokyo.
Silver is highly valued because of its beautiful surface and other unique qualities. Now, 90% of silverware in Japan is produced in Tokyo.
Tokyo silverware is tasteful and bright and is made using techniques developed in the Edo period, such as hammering and fine engraving. One technique is known as 'kiribame': a design is cut out of the silver and another metal, like copper, is soldered into the space.
Toshiro learned hammering from his father, Uzaburo, in 1946, and kiribame from Tomoe Ogawa. Toshiro is particularly good at kiribame.
In 1984, Toshiro was designated as a Tokyo Silverware Traditional Craftsman by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. In 1988, he was also designated as a Tokyo Traditional Craftsman. In the same year, he was awarded a prize and designated as a Tokyo Excellent Artist.
Celadon, or Seiji in Japanese, is a pottery that has a long history dating back to the 1st century in China. Its origin goes even further back to more than 3,500 years ago when China began making real glazed ceramics called “primitive porcelain” during the Yin Dynasty. The techniques of making Seiji, whose distinctive color is created when iron in glass-quality glaze glows a deep blue/green like color during reduction firing, was established during the Later Han period around the 1st century and since then it has been followed rigorously to this day.
Seiji became popular in other countries and, after around the 9th century, it was exported extensively to Japan, the Korean peninsula and other Southeast Asian countries. Especially in Japan where China was highly regarded at that time, Seiji was actively collected and copied, and production techniques were rapidly refined.
Because Seiji tea cup brightens the color of green tea inside, Seiji became essential for use during the tea ceremony and has been much valued by tea masters, feudal lords and temples over the years.
Seiji, with its exquisite graceful hues of blue that evokes the transparent sea and subtle green, enchants people’s hearts around the world.
Ohi pottery is a traditional handicraft handed down for about 330 years in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture. The making of Ohi pottery dates back to 1666, when the fifth lord of the Kaga domain, Tsunanori Maeda, invited the founder of the Urasenke school of tea ceremony, Senso Soshitsu, from Kyoto. At this time the first Chozaemon Ohi accompanied him to make tea utensils. Chozaemon found suitable clay at Ohi village and started making tea bowls and jugs that suited Soshitsu’s taste. He became the founder of Ohi pottery.
Ohi pottery masters have succeeded the name of Chozaemon Ohi and now the tenth generation of Chozaemon Ohi carries on the tradition.
Ohi pottery is made in a unique process, which uses no potter's wheels. The pottery is shaped by hand and working-out of the details is given by knives and planers. A special glaze is used to produce a unique amber coloring, which gives a very sensitive and mysterious impression.
The works of the successive generations of Chozaemon Ohi are displayed at Ohi Pottery Museum, which is located next to the kiln of the present generation.
Kaishi is Japanese tissue paper folded and tucked inside the front of one’s kimono, used especially for writing poems or letters or for placing sweets, cleaning the edge of a tea bowl and so on at the tea ceremony. It is also called “Futokoro-gami” or “Tatougami.”
Kaishi paper dates back to the early 7th century, when paper making technology was introduced to Japan from China. It became widely used in the Heian period (794-1192), when the Kokufu Bunka (Japan’s original national culture) developed and writing waka (classical court poems) and other forms of poems became popular among the noble class. In the Edo period (1603-1868), Kaishi paper was indispensable article for tea ceremony.
Kumano Kaishi and Yoshino Kaishi are famous as traditional handicraft today. Kaishi paper with various patterns such as cherry blossoms, plum flowers or autumn leaves is sold now. It is not only used for tea ceremony or writing poems but also used for many purposes such as wrapping gifts or serving sweets. Kaishi paper is a Japanese wisdom, which meets the trend of ecological consciousness today.
Hagi Ware is a pottery made in Hagi City, Yamaguchi Pref. As it goes “ichi Raku, ni Hagi, san Karatsu”, or first Raku, second Hagi, third Karatsu, it has been noted for pottery ware that is favored by masters of ceremonial tea. Hagi ware is light in weight, and simple in pattern, so it is very suitable for the atmosphere of Wabi-cha (tea ceremony). As tea bowls, it is said that Hagi Ware with its solid texture and massive feeling is superior to Karatsu Ware with gorgeous paintings. Jusetsu Miwa is one of the representative potters of Hagi Ware. He was born in Hagi in 1910 and designated as the holder of National Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National treasure) in Hagi Ware in 1983. He succeeded the glazing technique from his elder brother Kyusetsu X, in which special straw ash glaze is used to create pure white color called “Kyusetsu White,” and introduced a new style to Hagi Ware. Handing down the traditional techniques in Hagi Ware, he has established his own dynamic style of pottery, which is called “Art of Jusetsu.”