As with all unglazed ceramics, wash with warm water and a soft cloth only. Do not use detergents or put in the dishwasher. Pat the outside dry with a towel and/or leave the kyusu to air dry naturally with the lid off. If tea leaves get trapped in the filter, brush away with a soft brush, such as a toothbrush.
|Type||Yohen Tokoname-yaki kyusu with side handle|
|Origin||Tokoname, Aichi, Japan|
|Production||Potter's wheel (rokuro)|
Jinshu Touen 甚秋 陶苑
Founded by Minoru Ito (伊藤 実) in 1955, Jinshu Toen is a ceramics kiln in Tokoname that is now represented by the second generation, Seiji Ito (伊藤 成二, b.1949). An award-winning Certified Traditional Craftsman specialising in kyusu teapots, he started producing ceramics as Jinshu in 1970. Besides the red shudei clay that Tokoname is renowned for, Jinshu also uses white and black clays, sometimes mixing them to produce unique results after firing. Embracing materials and techniques indigenous to Tokoname, typical Jinshu decorative features include mogake (藻掛け “seaweed covering”), where seaweed is wrapped around the unglazed clay before firing to produce fine, thread-like patterns; a spotted effect by sprinkling powdered oyster shells – a byproduct of local seaweed farming; as well as the signature matte texture using chara, a material with properties between a glaze and an engobe.
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.
Pottery has been produced in the city of Tokoname, Aichi prefecture, as far back as the 12th century. Tokoname was the site of the largest and oldest of the legendary Six Ancient Kilns of Japan and is celebrated for its local iron-rich shudei clay that turns red after firing. When fired a second time in a reduction oven, the red shudei turns black – the other characteristic colour of Tokoname-yaki. Traditional Tokoname kyusu teapots are unglazed on the inside, allowing the tannins in the tea to react with the iron in the clay body, which is said to reduce astringency and highlight the sweetness of green teas. Since 1976, Tokoname-yaki has been protected as a traditional craft of Japan.
Written as “kiln change,” yōhen refers to the variations in colour and texture of ceramics, which happen during firing. This technique is a feature in various Japanese pottery styles, including Tokoname, Shino, Bizen and Tenmoku. Within Tokoname-yaki, the red/bronze and black two-tone effect can be achieved by partially burying a red, oxidation-fired item in rice husks or ashes and refiring it in a reduction furnace, which will turn the exposed part black, while leaving the buried part red.