Akitomi Beizan Shino Meimei Zara

Potter: Akitomi Beizan

Approximate size: W5.7″ by H0.8″ or 14.5 by 2.0 cm

A set of 5 high quality Shino plates called Meimei-zara (銘々皿), for use in the tea ceremony by the famous Shino potter Akitomi Beizan. Meimei-zara generally consist of five or six plates made of lacquered wood, fired clay or glass. This type of utensil is used by the host of a ceremony to serve guests omogashi which are a sort of treats with a strong taste that creates either a bond or a contrasting flavor with the matcha, powdered tea served a little later. Its also called the ‘main sweet’. This delicacy is served before the preparation of koicha, thick matcha tea (generally not served with the thinner variant matcha called usucha).

The next level of formality after individually covered lacquered bowls (most often made of wood), is the utensil known as meimei-zara which are individual ceramic or lacquer plates. What is generally served is one sweet and one kuromoji each (sometimes a salty tasting condiment is served with it to balance flavors with the main treat however it is believed this custom is a later addition).

The most formal style for presenting omogashi is in individually lidded lacquer bowls called kashi-wan. Usually sweets served this way are heated and the bowl topped with the lid keeps them warm. Omogashi for koicha are served in lacquer fuchidaka, trays with high walls which evolved in Daitokuji. There are several types of materials used in konomi, starting with Rikyu-gata shin-nuri, as well as ceramic and glass fuchidaka.

Konomi are utensils chosen by the Grand Master and other tea masters as being suitable for use in Chanoyu.

For example, the utensils favored by Sen no Rikyu are called Rikyu-konomi.

Next is the meimei-zara or individual ceramic plates like the set presented here. Both kashiwan and meimei-zara are usually served with one sweet and one kuromoji each. Using unique and handmade utensils like these change the atmosphere and your perception when using them in your own personalized ritual, be it in a formal gathering or just a afternoon snack.

Pottery has been produced in the Mino area of Gifu prefecture since the Kamakura period (the end of the 12th century). The main names synonymous with Mino are Oribe, Shino and ki-Seto. It is said that Shino was the first ware to decorate its pieces with brush-drawn designs as shown on this example. Before the use of brush-drawn decorations potters had been carving, incising or were appliquéing their ideas and fantasies.

This set, sealed by the potter have no chips or cracks and condition is excellent. Comes with the original high quality shiho-san paulownia tomobako with kiln stamp and calligraphy on the side, a informational pamphlet about the maker and a dedicated tomonuno (tea cloth).

€225 + shipping cost

The first Shino ware was developed during the Momoyama period (1568–1600), in kilns in the Mino and Seto areas. The glaze, composed primarily of ground local feldspar and a small amount of local clay, produced a satiny white color. It was the first white glaze used in Japanese ceramics. Wares decorated with Shino were fired in the anagama kilns used at that time. Anagama kilns were single-chambered kilns made from a trench in a hillside that was covered with an earthen roof. As the anagama kilns were replaced by the multi-chambered noborigama kilns during the first decade of the 17th century, Shino was supplanted by the Oribe ware glazes used in the newer kilns. Shino enjoyed a brief revival in the 19th century but then seemingly faded into obscurity.