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Heath
Apr 29, 2008



Hi. I drink a lot of tea and I need things to drink it from. In particular I love matcha, which is a trendy green drink you've probably seen at Starbucks, except that poo poo is trash and bad. Matcha is green tea that has (hopefully) been made from carefully selected, high-quality green tea leaves, grown in Japan, and ground down into a superfine powder that is then mixed with a small amount of water and whisked into a frothy, umami-rich broth. It's best prepared and drunk from a deep bowl, and those bowls (called chawan in Japanese; cha, tea, wan, bowl or cup) have a long and storied history and come in a huge variety of designs, shapes, colors, everything. Some are mass produced, but I love the handmade ones a lot, and I have a small collection of them, which I will post about. I am not a good photographer, please forgive me.




This one is made by an artist named Fujio Yamada, estimated to be from sometime in the 90s according to the person I bought it from. This one is particularly well-balanced while still still maintaining a real hand-made look, and has a lot of subtle detail that I really enjoy -- the glaze has a sort of inky-black underlayer that the red sits on top of, and it's especially evident if you turn the bowl upside down and you can see where some of the black is exposed. In the formal tea ceremony, it's traditional to face your favorite "side" of the bowl to the person you're making tea for, so I highlighted my favorite side, and you can see at the top there's a spot where the glaze didn't quite take, giving it a small imperfection. I don't really know why, but I always feel the urge to drink from that particular spot. There's a little roughness to the texture of the exposed clay that creates a unique sensory experience from the rest of the rim of the bowl. The red color is also a bit unusual among teaware, which is what initially drew me to it.




This one is a newer piece, being made by an artist named Eichi Kato. This one has a really wild design, and has the most variance in texture of any of the pieces I own. The color shifts from rich browns to almost mossy-blue greens, and on top of it there's a layer of very strange lavender glaze that reminds me of something you'd see in a Voodoo Donut shop. I think this is one of the most striking ones simply because it's got such an odd palette and I love it. It's the roughest shaped one of mine, and has the most "traditional" form to it (most hand-made Japanese tea bowls I've seen tend to resemble this shape, with its waviness) but definitely not a traditional glaze. I use this one a lot lately.




This one is actually made by a Taiwanese artist named Bai Mu Quan. The hexagonal shape is very unusual, but much of Taiwanese tea design is unusual. It's not perfectly hexagonal, being just a little asymmetrical, which is one of the things I like about this piece in particular. Little flaws in the structure give it a unique appearance. The shape makes it very easy to hold, too, and I like using this one on cold days because the curves fit nicely into cold cupped hands. The glaze is called "blue Hare's Fur," and is part of a set of utensils I have in the same glaze. It's very dark in person, but in direct sunlight it absolutely glows deep blue and purple, with brown around the rim. Photos really don't do it justice. The contrast of green tea in it especially really makes the glaze pop.



This one is another piece by the same artist as above, in a tenmoku shape. I don't use this for matcha, but for gyokuro or sencha, which are other types of green tea. These bowls have a very small base diameter and are much more shallow than the larger ones, and don't take well to whisking. If I were serving multiple people, I might use these for matcha, since they hold less liquid.




This one is a recent acquisition, made sometime in the late 80s or early 90s, but I don't know the artist, except that it's Japanese. Another tenmoku type, using a very similar glaze to the one above, but this one is drat near black unless you put it under very bright light, and the patterns will show. I really love this one -- the outside is deep, dark, smooth lacquer black, but the inside lights up with this really unique pattern of drip with these voids, I guess? in between. This shows off the brown of the glaze moreso than the one above.




This may be my favorite bowl. It's another tenmoku type made by an artist named Seigan Yamane, in a style called Hagi-ware, meaning its base clay is super coarse and porous, so much so that it readily absorbs water and can actually leak a little bit until it becomes seasoned with use and the clay seals up. The first time I held this one, I was actually shocked by the way it felt. I can't really describe it too well, but the blue glaze around the edges feels almost soft, like putty, though it has no give, of course. But from a purely tactile standpoint it feels like you should be able to leave a fingerprint in it. It is a joy to hold, and it really does feel unlike anything else I've held before. It feels even more exquisite against the lips. Even the color is soft. I use this one for longer sessions where I have time to sit around all day and drink a gyokuro or sencha, just because I enjoy the feeling of having it in my hand. The purple bands on the inside aren't light reflections, they're just there.

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Heath
Apr 29, 2008



Davincie posted:

have you heard of hyouge mono? its a series about tea bowls/tea ceremonies/one of the masters of tea ceremony who invented the oribe style

I have not, but I am in the process of looking it up

Since I've started getting into this I've been surprised how much I've noticed the tea ceremony popping up in other Japanese media. In particular the game Nioh 2, which has a remarkably extensive side-bit about tea utensils specifically where you can have your bowls appraised to give you bonuses by arranging them on your shelf, and the appraiser will smash them in front of you if they're garbage. Each different type of bowl you can find has a short history attached to it so you can learn about where that type of bowl originated and unique features of it. It's crazily detailed for something hidden in a menu that 99% of people will not read or give a poo poo about beyond increasing their Item Find stat

Heath
Apr 29, 2008



Turns out, they're a real thing! Some of them are even national treasures in Japan, such as this Yohen tenmoku:



It has an iridescent surface and looks cool as gently caress. You see imitation ones around but they don't stand up to scrutiny next to the real thing. There's a website called Tenmokus that mass produces them but they're goddamn lies. The bowl above us estimated to be 800-900 years old, and very very few of them exist.

Heath
Apr 29, 2008



I bought another tenmoku :sweatdrop: it's in the mail though so no pictures yet. I have other teaware I'll get some photos of soon

Heath
Apr 29, 2008





I've been trying for months to find a decent display stand for my bowls and I think this is it. The top stand is removable if I just want to put them out in a line.

Heath
Apr 29, 2008



I was supposed to post my new one!!!



I quite like it!! Although it's a little more glossy than I was expecting. The photos made it look more like a creamy finish. It is very nice and lightweight, and the eggshell color is definitely a nice contrast to the rest of my pieces. A good winter bowl.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUDzdjk5Mqs

Here's a very good primer for anybody interested in ceramics or the chawan in particular. It's hard to find resources in English that are this thorough.

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Heath
Apr 29, 2008



Arsenic Lupin posted:

Heath, thank you not just for the pictures, but for the lessons in how to look at them. Suddenly a lot of the art pottery I've been writing off as "clumsy" makes sense. (And I'm embarrassed at past-me.)

You're welcome. I am not a huge ceramics or pottery guy (although I love handmade pieces) but I've also gained a lot of appreciation for it as an art form since I've started drinking tea regularly, and especially since I've started making it myself.

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