Friday, March 10, 2017

New in Stock Items and Restocked Items

We are starting to feel the end of bitter, cold winter and the beginning of warm spring as we smell the faint scent of plum blossoms and daphne.  The spring season that the iconic cherry blossoms bloom beautifully and fall is usually the season for the end and the beginning in Japan:  the school year ends in March and begins in April, and generally the newly graduates start their work in Spring.  So spring makes us want to start something new, explore new places, and find new items.  Today, we wanted to share a selection of new items in stock at our store that will freshen up the table for the new season. 

Let’s start off with pieces by Manabu Tanaka, a Fukui Prefecture artist whose items we haven’t received for a while.  
 [Manabu Tanaka  Single Bud Vase   2484 yen]
Charming single bud vases each with unique form and finish.  We adore the deep, yet subtle color palette that kind of remind us of cloudy, heavy sky of Hokuriku (North Western) region of Japan where Tanaka-san is from.  Having a single flower from the garden in a bud vase will surely dress up the table and remind you the coming of spring.   

[Manabu Tanaka   Small Pot  4860 yen]
This small pot is a new addition to our store.  It is a lovely piece that can be used as a sugar pot or a container to store some condiments like miso. 

 [Manabu Tanaka   Soy Sauce Pourer  4104 yen]
Our patron customers from restaurants love these soy sauce pourers, because not only are they nice aesthetic pieces to have on the table, they are functional and do not drip on the side. 

 [Manabu Tanaka   Small Plate   1296 yen]
We also received from Tanaka-san a variety of plates that you can use with soy sauce pourer. 

In addition, we also received new items from other fellow artists from Fukui Prefecture, Michihiro Domoto and Kumiko Domoto. 
 [Kumiko Domoto   Chopstick Rest   864 yen]
We were waiting so eagerly for the day to introduce this piece! This charming chopstick rest is made by creative craftsman Kumiko Domoto. The first time we received a couple dozen of these lovely items and we quickly sold out in a day. This time, we received fifty items and were astonished by how each piece was original in its carved painting and shape. Quite a remarkable hand craftsmanship and ingenuity!!  The longer ones can be used as a cutlery rest as seen in the photo. 

We also have one off items from the Mishimade series.  Each piece comes with different carved pattern, so it’s very difficult to choose just one. 
[Michihiro Domoto and Kumiko Domoto 
Sake Cup with “Fuku” character meaning fortune in the prospect   3780 yen
Small Lidded Container   5400 yen
Sake Pourer   4500 yen]

We were also able to restock Shiho Takada’s works from the crackle series and titanium glaze series. 

[Shiho Takada   Oval Bowl 4320 yen]

This oval shaped piece by Kyoto artist Shiho Takada goes beautifully with colorful vegetables because the muted gray cracklings accentuate the colors.  We are delighted to be able to offer again this highly sought after item at our store.

Shiho Takada’s rice bowls from the titanium glaze series.  The small one on the left is for children. 
Some people say that they are afraid to have children use expensive, delicate tableware because they fear them breaking them.  We partially agree to this, but at the same time, we believe there is some merit in having children exposed to nice tableware from early age.  By having children handle these breakable items, they can have a learning experience in which they are taught to cherish and take good care of the items.  How about giving your beloved child a special piece that an artist has taken great care in making them?  

Last but not least, we wanted to take time to introduce some blue and white porcelain pieces by a young Ishikawa Prefecture artist Mayumi Hiyama. 
[Mayumi Hiyama   Mini Plate  2300 yen]

 Hiyama-san is a young, talented ceramic artist trained in a training school in Ishikawa Prefecture for Kutani-ware, one of the two most famous porcelain styles in Japan. We just love these charming butterfly-shaped pieces that look like they are fluttering around when set on a table.
Butterfly has been historically a popular pattern in Japan. In the age of warring states, butterfly pattern was highly favored among the samurai warriors and was carved on armor and used in family crests, because they considered butterflies as a symbol for rebirth. The samurais were mesmerized by the way a butterfly transforms from a larva, to pupa, and eventually into a beautiful butterfly with wings.
These butterfly shaped mini plates will certainly be perfect for spring time table! 

 [Mayumi Hiyama   Square Plate with Peony Painting   2400 yen]

Please come to the store to find items for the early spring table if you are in Tokyo.   

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tableware for Daily Use

While I was taking a stroll on the street close to our store, I came across a gardener trimming a beautiful tall stewartia tree, so I asked him if I could have a branch. 

Tall stewartia, “hime-shara” in Japanese, is a type of camellia that blooms in spring to early summer and bears charming fruits that split into five parts in fall.  

Placed in a titanium glaze pitcher by Shiho Takada, the hime-shara branch revealed simple, quiet beauty.    Perhaps because they are made from earth’s natural ingredients, ceramics made from clay seem to enhance and complement beauty when placed with items from nature, such as vegetables and wildflowers.   

Soetsu Yanagi, the founder of "Mingei Undo" (folk craft movement), advocated that beauty lies in ordinary, functional objects and handicrafts for daily use created by nameless and unknown craftsmen. Although our ceramic artists are not nameless craftsman, we also believe that simple beauty lies in everyday functional tableware, so today we wanted to introduce some of the beautiful items that are perfect for daily use. 

Rice bowl by Toyoki Onimaru from Koishiwara-ware, a type of pottery made in Fukuoka Prefecture in the southern island of Japan.  It is said that Bernard Leach who is regarded as a father of British studio pottery visited Koishiwara village and praised Koishiwara-ware for its beauty.    

One of the unique features of Japanese tableware is that they are designed to be held in hand while eating, except for the large plates that are not moved away from the table.  In the old days, meals were eaten on a tatami floor, and therefore, bowls and small plates were held in palm so that the food would not drop on the way to the mouth.  

Rice bowls are usually held in the left hand when eating, so how the bowl fits in the palm is critical.  This particular bowl has a tall, slightly curved foot, which makes it easy for the palm and fingers to cradle the bowl, and pick it up from the table. The bowl is available in the following three patterns: brush mark, slip trailing, and three color pattern.   

Toyoki Onimaru   Rice Bowl
dimensions:  diameter 11cm×height 7.5cm   1296 yen

Fuminari Araga-san is well known for his kohiki (white-slip) series, but he also makes wonderful porcelain series and ash glaze series.    The following rimmed plate from the porcelain series is a practical piece that can be used as a bread and butter plate, or a dessert plate.  The understated color inspires use with all sorts of colorful meal and is easy to coordinate with other tableware!  

We also love this porcelain piece because of its durability.  Durability is one of the most important factors when choosing tableware for daily use.  While fragile, delicate dinnerware may be suitable for formal occasions, it could be a little stressful worrying about them breaking.  This sturdy porcelain piece does not break easily and is very reliable when it comes to using them casually every day.  

 Fuminari Araga   White Porcelain Rimmed Platel
dimensions:  diameter 17cm×height 4cm   2808 yen

This elliptical shaped bowl is also a nice addition to a table.  We adore the refreshing, yet muted tone of bluish gray which beautifully showcases a meal.   

Fuminari Araga   Ash Glaze Eliptical Shaped Bowl
dimensions:  14cm×12cm height 6.5cm   2160 yen

You can never have enough of tableware that are functional, easy to use, and inspire cooking.  We have gathered quite a bit of a collection of those functional items, so please come see them at our store in Shibuya.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Exhibitions and Events for the Year 2017

We cannot believe that the first month of this New Year is almost over!  
We will continue to strive this year to introduce you many wonderful ceramics by artists in Japan. 

Please look forward to the following exhibitions and events we will be hosting at our store this year. 

April:  Vessels for Tea Time
June:  Momoko Otani and Kotomi Daigo Exhibition
July:  Taira Kuroki and Shiho Takada Exhibition
October:  Cups for Soba Noodles
December:  Akira Yamada and Fuminari Araga Exhibition

This year, we will be having three exciting exhibitions, and two events that will be displaying items made by various ceramic artists.  For the first event of the year, “Vessels for Tea time”, we will be offering tea cups, mugs, and tea pots for tea time (or coffee time) made by many different artists.

We hope you come visit us at our store in Shibuya.   We will be announcing the details of our events on this blog, instagram, and facebook, so please check them for updates and announcements.   

Monday, January 16, 2017

Sake Vessels for the Holiday Season

The end of the year and new years is one of the biggest opportunities for Japanese to drink sake.  At the end of the year, Japanese drink sake in a get together called “bonenkai”, literally translated, a meeting to forget the year, to appreciate the hard work done for the year, and forget the troubles of the past year to look forward to a new year.  Then, on the new years, they drink sake to celebrate the new year.  “Otoso”, a drink taken in the morning of the new year in hopes for a longevity, is believed to purify the body and prevent illness for the year. 
 So, our store had our talented ceramic artist specially make sake vessels for this holiday season!  The following are some of the many beautiful pieces we received at the end of last year. 

This is a photo of a sake pourer and a cup from the white porcelain series by Taira Kuroki, a Kyoto prefecture artist known for delicately made, elegant pieces. 

Kuroki-san also sent us a new series called “Yohen Ao”, literally translated, kiln strange.  The dazzling color variation is created during the firing process. These are stunning pieces that we recommend seeing in person. 

We now have sake vessels by Shiho Takada from the ash crazings series, titanium glaze series, and iron glaze series, three highly sought after series. 

Fuminari Araga-san’s “Kohiki” pieces, white-slip ceramics, are a beauty of simple, yet refined form. 

Kotomi Daigo-san is an artist known for her bronze glaze series, but she sent us a strikingly modern pourer from the new high-fired unglazed series, which we just fell in love.  

Taro Sugimoto-san’s roundish pourer gives off a warm impression and is perfect for drinking sake on a cold winter day.  

Another charming piece by Sugimoto-san.  The circle pattern continues on the inside. 

Lastly, Akira Yamada-san’s gorgeous sake vessels that matches perfectly in the celebratory occasions. 

Please pop by our store to see other wonderful sake vessels by various skilled artists! 

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!!