About the Steel Tea Tools #3

About the Steel Tea-Bowls

 Needless to say a tea bowl is a vessel for drinking tea, many of which are made of ceramics. The green tea powder is added directly to the bowl and hot water is added from the kettle. The tea is then stirred with the whisk.

 I say it so often, but of course, my tea-bowls are also made of steel. After the bowl was cast in steel, I immediately wanted to try to drink tea from it. The polished, shining steel set against the vivid green tea was so beautiful. I drank a big gulp. It was so delicious. However, the enjoyment of tea is in the moment. I sipped slowly the remaining tea in the bowl but in the next moment, it turned black. The green tea became a black discolored liquid. The intense taste of steel hits the mouth and the odor attacks the nasal cavity. To quote from Taro Okamoto "What is this?”.

 I researched this phenomenon and discovered that the "tannin" substance present in tea reacts with steel, and turns black. It is like a rust effect, but is harmless to the human body. The outside of a traditional steel kettle is sometimes actually stained black using this effect. I giggled to myself to know that it was harmless. It wasn’t enough for guests to experience only the visual and tactile sense of the tearoom, they should experience the taste and smell also. All the senses are plunged into steel. This is amazing! To foreign guests it should be said in the beginning, my way of tea is a somewhat crazy style, and that traditional green tea is much more delicious.

Shino Stoneware Tea-Bowl

 I was looking for a teabowl for casting and I found a Shinoware tea-bowl lying around my parents house. I was easily attracted to the universality and feeling of this raku-style bowl. I felt strange because I knew this tea-bowl had been there since I was a child. The right object was just there waiting for me all along. I examined the object up close. As my mother spoke about it, all I could hear was "blah blah blah" and I snatched the tea-bowl. This tea-bowl has its roots with my own family so I like it a lot.

Kizaemon Oido Tea-Bowl: steel replica

 When I was planning to create a new steel tea-bowl replica I was surprised to find the perfect form. It was the 'Kizaemon Oido Tea-Bowl". It is the most important of the Japanese tea-bowls and is designated as a national treasure. At a glance it is a shabby and dirty tea-bowl, no wonder as it was originally only produced in large quantities for daily use. These bowls were first produced in Korea as a somewhat disposable item. It is a cheap, miscella- neous object, remade over many many years, with an unknown creator, that went from meaning nothing to being a national treasure. I feel this encompasses perfectly the idea of "wabi”.

 I thought that perhaps I had seen these tea-bowls somewhere in the past. I was senstitive to the fact that this is a prime example of Japanese aesthetic sensibility. I'm generally immature, and I don't know much about tea-bowls, but this is a tribute to the 'Kizaemon Oido" tea-bowl, and I hope I made a satisfactory replica.

Translated by Ruth MacConville & Chie Uchida.

Special thanks to TEZUKAYAMA Gallery.