Monday, November 28, 2011

December Open House & Events

Saturday, December 3rd, will be our next Open House for WaSabiDou Antiques & Folk Crafts and Charaku Fine Japanese Tea. Come share a cup of tea, find the perfect holiday gift (tea and tea cups make great stocking stuffers or fine gifts,) or just enjoy the old & new crafts on display.
As always, we have lots of pottery, folk toys, woodblock prints, furniture, textiles, and more.
Recently arrived inventory includes some wonderful black raku
tea bowls by George Gledhill of Payette, ID. Come have a look!
When: Sat, Dec. 3rd, 10am - 5pm
Where: Our showroom at 127 NW 136th Street, Seattle, WA 98177.
Info/Directions: 206-660-4189

On Saturday, December 10th, at 12:00 noon, I'll be holding a tea class at FORTE Music Art Dance Studio on Camano Island. The event is part of their "Holiday Gallery Weekend," which will feature a variety of art media: glass, jewelry, painting, photography, as well as chocolate, coffee, & tea! Come visit if you're in the area and feel the pulse of the island
1095 Essex St Unit A-1, Camano Island, WA 98282 (the location of the old Utsalady Grocery.)
The gallery event runs Dec 10 & 11 from 10am-5pm. For more Info: or 360-926-8519.

On Sunday, December 11th, I'll be serving matcha at Tokara Japanese Confectionery in Seattle from 1:00-5:00pm. Chef Tokara is one of the few professional Japanese wagashi makers in the country and has a lovely shop in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood. Our Charaku Premium Organic Matcha will be served alongside her handmade, seasonal Japanese sweets for $5.00 a set. We strongly recommend advance ordering as sweets for walk-in customers tend to sell out. Come enjoy the authentic taste of Japan during this December touryanse Open House.
Where: 6208 Phinney Avenue N., Seattle, WA 98103 (just a few blocks north of the Woodland Park Zoo.) Call for advance orders and inquiries 206-784-0226.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Open House Dates: Nov 12th & Dec 3rd, 2011

Fall is in the air and the colors outside are amazing! For some of you back east, this has meant snow already and I hope you are all safe and well.

There are new items on both Charaku & WaSabiDou websites and I also wanted to let you know about two Open House dates in the next few weeks for those of you in the Seattle area.

DATES: Saturday, November 12th and Saturday, December 3rd.
TIME:10:00am - 5:00pm, both dates.
LOCATION: Our showroom for antiques/crafts & tea tasting is in north Seattle at
127 N.W. 136th Street, Seattle, WA 98177.
Please feel free to call or e-mail for directions, 206-660-4189.

New items to check out will be:
-2011 teas in stock (a great gift of health and culture for the holidays.)
-A rare & wonderful collection of vintage Miharu Hariko Papier Mache Dolls from Fukushima.
-Works by Pacific Northwest Potters; Tea bowls & more by George Gledhill (Payette, ID,) Tea Cups by John Miller (Portland, OR,) and Tea Bowls and Tableware by Sachiko Furuya (Seattle, WA.)
-A large selction of antique & vintage Kashigata, wooden sweet molds, from Japan.
-Still available is the rare Shoji Hamada Tea Bowl made in Okinawa.
-Plus Woodblock Prints, Textiles, Furniture, Japanese Folk Toys (including kokeshi,) and more!
Please visit the WaSabiDou and Charaku websites for updates and images during the coming week.

I'm also excited to be serving tea in December at two locations:
-Saturday, December 10th at Forte Music, Dance, Art, a brand new studio/gallery on Camano Island
-Sunday, December 11th at Tokara in Seattle, maker of exquisite, fresh Japanese sweets
More details will follow on these two events closer to the dates.

Charaku Fine Japanese Tea
WaSabiDou Antiques & Folk Crafts


-Bowls (suitable for Tea Bowls) from SE Asia & China, 15th-18th Century.

-Khalong Dish, Northern Thailand, ca. 17th Century.

-Jarlet, Vietnam, ca. 18th Century.

-Murata Gen Yunomi (Tea Cup,) authenticated with signed box by son, Hiroshi.


-Miharu Hariko Papier Mache Dolls, Fukushima Prefecture, 1970's-1990's.

-Tea Bowls, Sake Cups, Tableware, & Fissured Jar (background on tansu) bu George Gledhill.

-Assorted Yunomi (Tea Cups) from Mashiko, Okinawa, and Kumamoto with Matcha Chawan (Tea Bowls) by contomporary artist Sachiko Furuya in background.

Contemporary NW Potters - New Works

WaSabiDou is always proud to feature the work of local artists. Images to the right, from top to bottom, are: Winter Tea Bowl by George Gledhill, of Payette, ID; Shino glaze Yunomi (Tea Cup) by John Miller, of Portland, OR; and Idogata Tea Bowl interior with copper glaze by Sachiko Furuya, of Seattle, WA.

George Gledhill's Tea Bowls, Tea and Sake Cups, Vases, Mizusashi, & Jars have long been popular with our clientele. His work is influenced by the nature of the materials he works with, many of which he sources locally near his farm in the high desert area of SE Idaho. His pieces are often highly regarded among tea enthusiasts for their wabi quality.

We are pleased to start showing the work of John Miller, from Portland. A native of the New York and a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, John's work is strongly influenced by mingei and mingei-influenced potters such as Shoji Hamada, Bernard Leach, and Shimaoka Tatsuzo. His tea cups have the warm feeling of long-ago country potters.

Sachiko Furuya, orignally from Yamanashi Prefecture on the west side of Mount Fuji, is another local potter whose work has been highly collected among WaSabiDou and Charaku customers. They are elegant while still allowing the nature of the materials show through. Lately, she has been working with copper glaze, creating lovely blue pools on her tea bowls and dishes. We have a number of chawan and tableware pieces available now in the showroom.

Antiquarian Society of Seattle - Mingei Presentation

On October 26th, I was honored to have the opportunity to speak to the Antiquarian Society of Seattle on the topic of "Mingei Biron," or Folk Craft Theory. This group of 40 women from the greater Puget Sound area was originally founded in 1938. They carry on a tradition of supporting the arts in and around Seattle. Many are artists or art historians in their own right and make presentations to the group in their own area of specialization.

My talk centered on Soetsu Yanagi's Mingei Theory, and a discussion of Yanagi's views on Art vs Craft and on a number of Japanese craft traditions. I was allowed to bring in several antique and contemporary craft items to speak for themselves. This "Sansui Dobin" (Landscape Tea Pot) from early 20th Century Mashiko was a popular piece that afternoon, as was the Tea Bowl made by Shoji Hamada, pictured below.

Thank you again to this wonderful group for the opportunity to share a subject about which I am passionate, and for their continuing support of the arts and crafts!


We've recently acquired a rare and wonderful collection of vintage Miharu Hariko ningyo. These dolls are all for sale at reasonable prices. As this region of Fukushima is close to the site of the Daiichi Nuclear Reactor, the future of this 14th-generation folk craft is uncertain. These vintage examples are a great way to keep the tradition alive in your own collection.

Miharu-machi (town) is located just NW of Koriyama City in central Fukushima Prefecture. They say the town’s name "mi’ (3) "haru" (spring) comes from the fact that the three famous blossoms of spring; plum peach, and cherry, bloom here in profusion. This colorful backdrop, along with a scenic rural setting, and a long craft history, help to provide the inspiration for the papier-mache dolls known as Miharu Ningyo (Miharu Dolls.)
Over 300 years ago, the first ancestor of the Hashimoto family to
settle in the region was Hashimoto Keibu, a samurai displaced by civil wars. His descendants began making Miharu Ningyo under the patronage of feudal lords during the Edo Period (1600-1868.) Similar in form and theme as the clay dolls produced a bit north at Tsutsumi in Sendai-han (Province) , Miharu Ningyo were instead made of scrap paper pressed over mountain willow wooden molds,

then glued and hand painted. Such items were sold to the retinues of samurai and officials that were forced to travel to and from their outposts to the capital in Edo (Tokyo) under the Shogun’s "san kin kotai" (alternating residences) system. Souvenirs to take back to Tokyo were a must along the route. At the peak of the trade’s history in the 1700's some 30 families worked at this craft in Miharu, proding such items as Ebisu, Daikoku, &Daruma dolls. Today, there are about a dozen of the Hashimoto descendants continuing the tradition today at a collective of farm houses and gift shops known as Deko-Yashiki.
Miharu artisans started out with paper because there were no good clay deposits in the area, but today say that paper actually creates a more lively, and expressive figurine than the stiffer, hardened clay. This can especially be seen in the dancing figures. Other standards are Ebisu, Daikoku, & Daruma dolls, as well as masks, and the popular zodiac animals. To meet the annual demand for the zodiac figures, work begins in the summer months and only a limited number of the following year’s animal is made, and released for sale at year’s end. But, loyal customers don’t mind the annual wait. Today’s dolls also use a higher quality hand-made paper of mulberry bark fibers, and are still hand-painted by the Hashimoto family descendants in this centuries old traditional
folk craft.

Individual images above: Mother Nursing Child, Dancing Maiden with Water Buckets, Ebisu as Sumo Wrestler.


Dentou (Traditional) Kokeshi of NE Japan:
We've got about a dozen new kokeshi in stock looking for good homes. I grew up with dolls like this around the house since my mother was from Sendai, in Miyagi Prefecture. Traditional kokeshi are ALL from the Tohoku region of Northeast Japan,
the area struck by the earthquake and tsunami last March.
We have not yet heard any reports of how the contemprary
kokeshi industry has been affected by these event. But, most of the workshops are in villages located inland from the coast so are hoping that all have survived. Tourism is way down in the region, so we are certain that business is not good. What also may be true is that many of the older pieces in private collections throughout the region could be lost.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

KASHIGATA (Wooden Sweet Molds)

WaSabiDou has recently acquired a wonderful collection of old Japanese wooden sweet molds (kashigata.) There are some great examples of auspicious imagery to be found in these authentic works of folk craft. Molds like these have been used for a few hundred years in Japan, and some are still being used today. Visit our webiste, and look at the listings under "wood" (or just search "kashigata") to see all of these items with full descriptions.

Sweet molds, “kashigata,” have been a part of confectionary culture around the world. Well-known examples in Asia come from Japan, China, Korea, and Indonesia. In Europe; countries such as Germany, Holland, and England have a rich history of cake mold production. Materials such as wood, ceramic, glass, plastic, and numerous metals such as iron, copper, and tin have been employed to shape cakes, cookies, and candy into objects of art and symbolism.

In Japan, kashigata history goes back over 300 years, and wood has been the primary material since then. Commonly used woods include yamazakura (mountain cherry,) katsura (Japanese Judas,) ichou (ginko,) tsubaki (camellia,) and keyaki (zelkova.) Rarer examples may be made from kuri (chestnut,) kaki (persimmon,) and yanagi (willow.) An extremely wide variety of images was produced during the Edo (1600-1868) and the subsequent Meiji (1868-1912) Periods.

Auspicious symbols such as cranes, tortoises, pine (evergreen,) and shrimp or lobster (with rounded backs like the elderly) symbolized long life; while others such as plum and bamboo represented the qualities of perseverance (plum is the first tree to blossom after the harsh winter) and resilience (after bamboo’s resilient nature against the elements.) The Sea Bream fish, “tai,” would have been used for any celebratory occasion due to the play on words “omedetai” (congratulations, felicitations.) Any of these could have been used for a wedding, birth, or New Year celebration. Other examples could be seasonal references; cherry blossoms in spring, chrysanthemums in winter, mushrooms in fall, peaches in summer (also symbolic of fertility.) In the late Meiji, Taisho (1912-1926,) and early Showa (1926-1989) periods; examples of Japanese imperialism also were portrayed in kashigata; including war slogans and military designs. In other cases, simple geometric patterns were utilized in kashigata. Throughout their history, Japanese kashigata have been produced in a tremendous range of imagery, symbolism, and design that has imbued the spirit of the carver and the mystery of natural and supernatural symbolism, into the artisanal tradition of handmade Japanese sweets.