Temple kiln: Komon-Do, Kiyomizucho Temple
Approximate size: W4.7″ by H2.9″ or 11.9 by 7.3cm
Rarely offered, even on the Japanese markets, a superb aka-Raku tea bowl from the Komon-Do (古門堂), kiln located at the Kiyomizucho Buddhist Temple complex in the small city of Yasugi, Shimane prefecture. The work originating here has a very unique feeling among the vast and diverse Raku world. This kiln used to work exclusively for the local Matsue clan and production numbers have always been very small.
This bowl has a half cylinder shape formed by hand as is Raku tradition and features an exquisite array of fu and other firing effects. The soft grey in this piece is unique to this kiln and the way the swirling temperature influenced the glaze is absolutely stunning. The photos don’t do it justice. Please take a look and get lost in the dynamic swirls over isles of red.
The areas of smoky black, which are hidden by the coating of white glaze, are known as ‘fu’, and are seen on traditional aka-Raku. Fu is a color change which occurs when fired surrounded by binchotan charcoal produced from Japanese Ubame oak. In other words, it is the burn mark created by binchotan. The surface of aka-Raku is like canvas fabric and the unique black designs of binchotan appear during firing in the kiln. Superb fu depends on the quality of binchotan charcoal and the skill of the craftsman to control the kiln’s fire.
The black color patterns made by burning charcoal in the kiln appear not only on the front side as with many ceramic bowls, but on all side surfaces. These special black color patterns as mentioned above are found only on aka-Raku and are called “Fu”. Large numbers of charcoal surrounded this bowl during the first or subsequent firings.
The chawan has no chips or cracks and is in excellent condition. Comes with the original high quality paulownia shiho-san tomobako or storage box bearing the kiln stamp and calligraphy on either side of the lid.
€420 + shipping cost
Shimane Prefecture can be understood best by making a distinction between its eastern and western halves. The east is made up of the cities and towns near and around Lake Shinji and Lake Nakaumi.
The major municipalities include the cities of Yasugi, Matsue and Izumo. An area of exception that should also be in this category is the Oki Island Archipelago, which is about 75-85 kilometers off the coast. The eastern region of Shimane has the largest population and is home to the prefecture’s capital, Matsue City.
Western Shimane Prefecture or more precisely the southwest, includes the cities of Masuda and Hamada as well as the Tsuwano Town on the border with Yamaguchi Prefecture. The western half of Shimane is characterized by its natural beauty from the hinterland to the coast.
The cultural bond that unites the entire prefecture can be found in the shared reverence for the history, myths and legends of the land. One example is the Kagura dance for the gods that is performed throughout Shimane in several variations.