|How quality Tokoname teapots are handcrafted at Hokujo.
|In June, 2007 I was fortunate enough to visit Mr.Shimizu Genji of Hokujo
kiln at his atelier in Tokoname.
He is an extremely friendly man and we chatted for an hour over tea before he demonstrated his hand throwing techniques for us on his potter's wheel.
Here are some unique insights into how his beautiful Tokoname teapots are made.
|The mastercraftsman throws a block of clay onto the wheel, creating the teapot's body, handle, spout and lid one after another, all from the same block. It really is quite mesmerising and awe-inspiring to watch.
Disection of teapot's body
|It goes without saying that good teapots are both attractive and functional.
These Tokoname teapots are actually much lighter than they look,as the
weight of the boiled water is also taken into consideration during the
Please refer to the photo on the left to appreciate the thinness of the walls of the body. During firing, excess moisture is expelled, shrinking the walls even further.
*Not all Tokoname teapots are made in the same way. Some craftsmen may prefer to make their teapots thicker in order to achieve a certain effect.
|Once the teapots are assembled, they are dried out prior to firing. Drying
out too quickly can result in the pieces coming apart. The drying out process
is slowed down by placing the teapots in wooden boxes for three days. This
is just one example of the time and care invested in the crafting of exquisite
|Some extra photos from Hokujo kiln...
In the photo above left, you can see how seaweed is applied to a teacup before firing.The seaweed is secured to the piece with string. After firing, the traces left by the seaweed remain, creating the same "Mogake" design as seen on the teapot in the background.
|Tokoname Natsume (Teacaddy)
I was also surprised to find these ceramic natsume at Mr. Shimizu's atelier.
Natsume are usually crafted of wood, making these pieces very rare, especially
as they are no longer in production.
The exact fit of the lid is mind-bogglingly perfect and is a testament to the
precision of the master craftsman's art.
|Having visited a Tokoname atelier for myself and seen the craftsman at
work, I can attest to the sincerity put into these products and the painstaking
care and attention involved in their creation.