Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tableware for Tea Time 3


Japanese tableware is unique in many ways when compared to Western tableware.   Rather than buying a complete set of dinnerware with matching colors and patterns, we Japanese usually purchase each item separately and match them to create our own dinner set.  We sometimes even buy one piece at a time for personalized items like tea cups, rice bowls, and chopsticks, so family members may all have different rice bowls with various sizes and designs. In hopes that you will find a special, personal cup for your relaxing tea time, we gathered quite a selection of tea wares made by various artists for our event “Tableware for Tea Time”.    
 
 
 It’s just too difficult to choose just one from these charming mugs by Kenichi Muso!   Muso-san’s meticulous craftsmanship can be seen in the flower pattern on the surface called “Inka”, which are carefully made by making indentations with stamps in equal intervals.  

We also carry cups without handles and sake cups from the same “Inka” series.  


 

 We Japanese love to enjoy the change of seasons by switching tableware to match the season.  These refreshing pastel color tea cups are perfect for spring and summer season.




With faint gradation of pink that is created during firing, these white teacups by Taro Sugimoto from Kyoto prefecture are perfect for sipping roasted green tea and brown rice tea. We also have a teapot from the same series in stock.

 

Using local clay that he digs himself, Kazuhiko Kudo makes pottery with distinct warmth in Hokkaido, the Northern Island of Japan with harsh cold winter.  The white birch series is done with glaze made of ashes from the white birch tree near his neighborhood.  This earthy tea set is sure to be a warm delight in a cold winter day.  



Shiho Takada’s signature series with gray cracklings is always a popular choice among our customers from overseas.  The simple, stylish form seems to make Takada-san’s work universally appealing.  


 
We can’t miss out on some sweets if we’re having some tea!  These lovely bowls with high foot by Taira Kuroki are great items to have ice creams and frozen yogurts with.  Yum yum.  
 



Come join us at our event “Tableware for Tea Time” to find an item that will make your tea time even more pleasurable experience.  

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Tableware for Tea Time 2


We are delighted that so many of our customers are enjoying our event “Tableware for Tea Time” that started in April.  

We will showcase some popular items from the event in the following.  




[Kazuhiko Kudo   Buck Wheat Noodle Cup   2700 yen      Small Plate 3780 yen]

 

The two separate items that we used as cup & saucer are “soba choko”, a cup for buck wheat noodle dipping sauce, and small plate.  We actually recommend this set to have some cold tea or coffee.  Having cold drinks in earthenware might seem a bit strange, but it actually makes sense for a couple of reasons.  The clay absorbs cold liquids and retains coldness so your drinks will stay cold.  Also, the clinking sounds made against the clay when the ice melts is charming and refreshing.  



 


[Kazuhiko Kudo   Cold Sake Cup   3780 yen]

We absolutely fell in love with these unique shaped pieces by Kazuhiko Kudo. The tall cup is great to have cold sake, but also goes well with cold tea and beer.  

 

 



We received charming tea cups with delicate paintings by Maki Oida from Kyoto prefecture.   We also have a sugar pot with most intricate paintings and small plates perfect for sweets by Oida-san in stock as well. 

 

 

 

 
Manabu Tanaka’s highly coveted mugs are in stock.  We received a wide range of items from Tanaka-san, so please come see them before they’re sold out!  
 
 
The good thing about Japanese tableware is that you can be creative in how you use your wares.  For instance, these sake pourers can be used as a “yuzamashi”, a type of pourer used to cool down boiling water before poured onto green tea or Chinese tea.   


 
Caffeine lovers, elevate your coffee time with special accessories!  These coffee measures measure beans for about one cup serving.   The brass coffee scoop is by Shunsuke Tanaka, and the cherry tree scoop is by Koji Ishii.

 

To all of those tea lovers and caffeine lovers, we still have wonderful items related to Japanese tea, Chinese tea, black tea, and coffee in our store.  Please come and see items that will bring your tea time to another level if you are in the Shibuya area.  
 

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.  

Friday, March 10, 2017

Stocked 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.