Rakunyû Yoshimura II Musashino Raku Chawan

Potter: Rakunyû Yoshimura, Nidai, 2nd generation

Approximate size: W4.8″ by H3.5″ or 12.3 by 12.3 by 9.5cm

This is a special Raku chawan or ceremonial tea bowl by the nidai or second generation Rakunyû Yoshimura (1959-). The design and atmosphere of this chawan is a motif known as ‘musashino’ meaning autumn grasses and the moon. The vast majority of Raku tea utensils are glazed black or red. Another characteristic of Raku ware is its light weight. The chawan in question features a pale blue colour called ‘asagi’ that is only rarely seen.

Raku yaki or Raku ware is a type of pottery that is fired at relatively low temperatures and was first made in Kyoto by the Kichizaemon Family. This particular family has a lineage that goes as far back as the 16th century. It is traditionally created by hand by a technique called ‘tezukune’. Raku is typically simple in appearance, lightweight and usually has a soft surface exterior.

This tea bowl’s theme is called ‘Musashino’ or ‘Autumn grass and moon’. The pale green colour is unusual and coupled with a finely painted nature scene under a full moon gives it a refined appearance with a tranquil atmosphere. The second generation Rakunyû studied at the Ceramicists Training Institute in Kyoto and later at home with his father, the first generation Jinshiro Rakunyû. Together they focused on Raku style utensils for the Tea ceremony. He later inherited the title of Rakunyu the second and began working in the Kyoto Raku Ware Association, where he became president in 1985. Toshio’s oldest son has since become the third Rakunyû and operates the kiln.

1959 Born in Kyoto, first son of the Shodai, 1st generation Rakunyû Yoshimura
1984 Graduated from the Prefecture’s Pottery Training Institute, then starts apprenticeship under his father tutelage
1989 Founded Rakunyû-gama
2000 Received a seal from Sennyu-ji Kumagaya Tatsuhisa Osho
2001 Became a certified Traditional Craftsman
2004 Succeeded to the name of Manpukudo Yoshimura Rakunyû
2011 Was certified as a Kyoto City’s Master Craftsman of the Future

There is a saying attributed to several tea masters (including Sen no Rikyu), regarding the ranking of tea ware. “First Ido, Second Raku, Third Karatsu —when referring to ceramic ware used for the Japanese tea ceremony. It is considered one of the top styles of pottery for use in tea ceremonies in Japan. Ido referring to Ido style chawan from Korea.

A variation of the above can be seen in the Japanese proverb on topic of wares used in the Tea ceremony. “Ichi-Raku, Ni-Hagi, San-Karatsu.” Loosely translated, here the saying ranks Raku first, followed by Hagi and thirdly Karatsu utensils.

The chawan shows signs of use but remains in excellent, initiated condition. There are no chips or cracks. It comes with the original high quality paulownia tomobako of which the front bears the potter’s calligraphy and seal. The box comes packed in the original orange carton.

€280 + shipping cost

The black glaze that is often seen in Raku ware is traditionally created from crushed stones retrieved from the Kamogawa river in Kyoto (often abbreviated to Kamo river). Red glazes are mixtures of a translucent glaze over a clay body often fired multiple times to add darker areas in the red glaze called “fu“. When bowls or utensils are glazed with with red Raku glaze they are fired at approximately 800 degrees where the black glaze when fired can reach a kiln temperature of up to 1200 degrees.

This river was also the location of one of the most iconic and famous samurai battles in history; the encounter between Minamoto no Yoshitsune and warrior monk Benkei at Gojō Bridge during the late Heian period. Benkei was said to have wandered around Kyoto every night on a personal quest to take 1000 swords from samurai warriors, who he believed were arrogant and unworthy. After collecting 999 swords through duels and looking for his final prize, he met a young man playing a flute at the Gojo tenjin Shrine (上野東照宮), in Kyoto, sufficed to say he did not take this young man’s sword.