Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Friday, December 04, 2009
My long-time love of tea has finally come to fruition with my own line of fine Japanese tea. Charaku, literally the "Pleasure of Tea" was launched in December of 2008 with an independent website, www.charaku-tea.com.
Partnering with suppliers and farmers in Japan, my goal is to introduce the width and depth of the Japanese tea experience. This of course includes well-made tea wares that connect the user to nature and to the artisan. We carry a wide range of leaf teas representing a variety of appellations and processing styles around Japan. We also have Premium Organic Matcha, granite stone-milled for an authetic experience. Our teas are fresh packed in small nitrogen-flushed batches for maximum freshness and health benefits.
Our website and packaging get lots of compliments for their aesthetics and I always like to give credit to these good friends; the calligrapher, Chiyo Sanada; and the web designers, DonnaClaire Design. Please visit the "Resources" page of the website for contact info for both; and continue to browse for tea, tea wares, and tea education. Dozo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu.
I tend to favor those utilizing traditional Mashiko glazes such as nami jiro (white), kaki (brown, literally "persimmon,") Mashiko guro (kuro-black,) ame (a yellow resembling butterscotch,) and seiji (celadon green) with simple or little brushwork.
Below is a shot of Gary performing INSIDE an old pottery kiln in the ancient kiln city of Tokoname. A Kyoueigama Gallery in Tokoname, 65 seats fit into this old kiln that formerlyly fired a few thousand pots at a time. The glazed brick interior was an acoustic blessing and it was a real treat to hear Rod Kendall's clay flutes in there.
Next, we were off to four Buddhist Temple concerts in Gifu Prefecture. Here Gary is outside of Houfukuji in Kakamigahara City, not far from Nagoya. Inside, he played an evening concert lit only by the temple's candles and incense. Afterwards, the guests were treated to a shojin ryori (temple food, mostly vegetarian) meal prepared by Mrs. Nishibu (Rev. Nishibu's wife) and temple staff. Another temple concert was in the mountain town of Takayama at the historic Kokubinji Temple (founded in the 7th century.) After these concerts, we headed to my old town of Mashiko, where the annual Pottery Festival was going on. Gary played at the Mashiko Messe Ceramic Museum in front of the Hamada Shoji House. The next day, a performance held in a stone "kura" (storehouse) converted to a cafe made another great acoustic venue for Gary's flutes. It was a memorable trip and we have plans for another Japan in the near future!
This was a lecture/discussion and exhibit at Shoreline Community College just north of Seattle. Several items from our collection were on display: small furniture, lots of pottery, textiles, folk toys, etc. The discussion was meant to expose Yanagi Soetsu's "mingei biron" (Mingei Theory) to the local public. While many mingei discussions revolve around the objects themselves in an anthropological sense; the basis of mingei actually is centered on Yanagi's theories, many of which are rooted in Buddhist philosophy. It is this theory that brings to the light the possibility of bringing mingei out of the realm of the "Unknown Craftsman" of yesterday into that of the contemporary studio-artist. During the preview and intermission, soothing Okinawan folk music by played on shamisen by Mako. With an authentic Kumejima kimono displayed behind her, all we needed was an island breeze to make us feel like we were in Okinawa. See http://mingei-folkcraft.blogspot.com for more information on this event.
This was the Open House Sale & Exhibition that accompanied the lecture at Shoreline Community College. The postcard at left featured the following three items featured in the sale: Teacup by Shimaoka Tatsuzo (National Living Treasure,) ca. 1970's; Woodblock Print of Jar by Tomimoto Kenkichi (National Living Treasure,) ca. 1955; and a kasuri kimono from Kumejima Okinawa (designated a National important craft,) ca. 1960's.
Below is a wonderful tea cup attributed to Hamada Shoji, early 1970's.