Shidei banko will quickly develop a patina and become more glossy with use. It is natural that fingerprints will stand out on the surface in the first few months but these will begin to subside as the surface starts to develop a deep lustre. When cleaning, only use water and a soft cloth, then leave to air dry naturally. Do not use detergents or put in the dishwasher. Hard water may cause limescale deposits to develop, in which case rinse with soft bottled water, then wipe with a soft cloth.
Hiramaru Biri 平丸ビリ
|Type||Side-handle Banko-yaki kyusu|
|Origin||Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, Japan|
|Dimensions||Ø10.2 x 4cm|
|Manufacture||Assembled and decorated by hand|
|Strainer||Fixed stainless steel strainer at spout|
|Artist's Stamp||On base|
Founded in 1829, the Tozan ceramics studio is now in its fifth generation. The first generation was a Meiji-era kyusu master who studied under legendary Yokkaichi potter, Yamanaka Chuzaemon, and nearly 160 years later the Tozan studio continues to specialise in manufacturing Banko-yaki teaware. While proudly cherishing tradition, Tozan strives to make playful and affordable Banko wares that complement modern tastes and lifestyles. To achieve this, they primarily employ a jollying method that makes use of mechanically turning moulds, as well as slipcasting or gabaikomi for more complex shapes.
The traditional Japanese teapot, kyusu are typically made of ceramics with a side handle placed at a 90° angle to the spout for ease of pouring – however the handle can also be found over the top or in the back. Kyusu are perfect for preparing green teas and tend to be on the small side to prevent overbrewing. Depending on the size, shape and type of clay a kyusu is made from will determine what type of tea is best prepared in it. There are many different regional styles as well as kyusu made by certified master craftsmen, which are prized amongst collectors.
Merchant and passionate chajin (“tea person”) Nunami Rozan is credited as the founding father of Banko-yaki. Back in the 18th century he opened a kiln in what is now Asahi-machi, Mie prefecture, stamping his wares with 萬古不易 – banko-fueki: “eternally unchanging” – in the hope that his ceramics would be passed down across generations forever. Today Banko-yaki is still produced in the Mie prefecture, primarily in the city of Yokkaichi, and is a protected traditional craft of Japan. Synonymous with Banko is the local, iron-rich shidei "purple clay", which when baked in a high-temperature reduction furnace becomes very heat resistant and turns the characteristic deep violet-brown of Banko-yaki, with an almost metallic sheen. It is said that the tannins in green tea react with the iron in unglazed shidei teaware to soften the astringency of the tea, highlighting its sweetness; therefore umami-rich teas such as sencha, kabusecha and gyokuro come highly recommended when using Banko.
Biri or Tobikanna 飛び鉋
A classic decorative feature seen in ceramics across Japan, tobikanna translates to "flying (carpenter's) plane" and is where a metal tool is used to carefully incise the surface of dried but not yet fired clay objects as they turn on the potter's wheel, creating a continuous pattern around it. In Yokkaichi this technique is regionally known as biri.