Kyusu Tokoname
Sawayaka Kuro

Sawayaka by name, refreshing by nature, a traditional tokoname-yaki kyusu teapot with a matte black chara coating, handcrafted at a small specialist studio in Tokoname, Japan. This kyusu is an ideal everyday and entry-level model, suitable for brewing all kinds of Japanese green teas.
Type Side-handle teapot, yokode kyūsu (横手急須)
Kiln  Tokoname Yaki (常滑焼)
Origin Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
Studio/Artist Tomisen
Volume 330ml
Dimensions 10.4 x 6.4cm (diameter without handle x height without knob)
Weight 260g
Clay Red natural clay (shudei 朱泥) enriched with natural Bengara (弁柄; red iron oxide). Black colouring due to the reduction firing
Firing Reduction firing (kangen shōsei 還元焼成).
Glaze Wafer-thin application of the special clay layer (chara チャラ) which develops a characteristic sheen with age
Production The components of the lid and jug are cast into shape by hand and then assembled by hand for a precise fit (ikomi 鋳込み)
Strainer Fixed stainless steel strainer at spout
Packaging Box

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This Kyusu is made by a traditional, small craft studio (Kamamoto in Japanese) in Tokoname. All the work steps are carried out exclusively by hand. In this large traditional region for ceramics, only less than 40 studios exist today.

Kyusu 急須

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. 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.

Tokoname-yaki 常滑焼

Tokoname Yaki (常滑焼, Aichi Prefecture)

Tokoname is the oldest of Japan's so-called Six Old Kilns (roku koyo 日本六古窯). With about 200 kilns for traditional ceramics, Tokoname is now the largest centre of ceramics production. The pure natural clay (shudei) is red and particularly rich in iron, and has special properties in terms of taste and effect on green tea. Unlike other regions, Tokoname still has - albeit diminishing - reserves of its famous natural clay.

For the famous Shudei Kyusu, the most iron-rich, fine-grained clay with a special colour is used, which is found under rice fields in Tokoname. The even more special, genuine Hon Shudei clay with the ideal iron content, however, has become so rare that nowadays Shudei is additionally enriched with natural iron oxide in order to really achieve the desired shade of genuine Hon Shudei.

One way of producing differently coloured kyusus is to use chara (チャラ) on shudei kyusus. To do this, the potter sprays on a mixture of red clay and natural colour pigments after shaping the base. The process is called chara-gake. The kyusu is then fired. Finished Shudei pots with Chara have a special shine, which is achieved by polishing the potted Kyusu with a metal spatula or cloth before firing. For this reason, glazes or on-glaze painting are often avoided to let the clay speak for itself.

In the production of Tokoname kyusu, the so-called oxidation firing for red and the reduction firing for purple to black shards are used on gas or electric kilns. Some studios, especially well-known artists, sometimes use a combination of the two techniques for special colour patterns (yohen 窯変). Oxidation firing is done between 1100 and 1200 degrees Celsius, depending on the clay, and must be controlled extremely closely because of the colour changes and the risk of cracking.

The introduction of the multi-vaulted multi-chamber hang kiln (renboshiki-noborigama 連房式登窯) in 1834 improved the control of the firing process compared to earlier kilns. This and the help of Chinese specialists made possible the development of the red, unglazed Shudei ware (yakishime; 焼き締め). Tokoname has become famous throughout Japan, or rather the world, especially for the shudei kyusus made of red toki. But the studios of the region are also known for many other techniques, such as ash glazing (kaiyu 灰釉), dark burn marks by carbon impregnation (koge), celadon work and the mixing of different types and colours of clay.



Red natural clay (shudei 朱泥) enriched with natural Bengara (弁柄 red iron oxide).


The components of the lid and jug are cast into shape and then assembled by hand for a precise fit (ikomi 鋳込み).

Reduction Firing (Kyo Kangen Shosei, 強還元焼成)

When firing ceramics, various processes begin as the temperature rises. First, the water still left in the body evaporates. Above a temperature of 500°C, the clay is completely dehydrated and its chemical state is irreversible. The organic components burn - oxidation takes place. After solidification, the vitrification phase begins.

Reductive firing of the ceramic produces an excess of carbon and a reduction of oxygen in the kiln. Carbon monoxide extracts oxygen from the surroundings and the body. A strong smoke development is the result. The body changes colour, from light grey to black, depending on the intensity and time of the reduction. The clay has less oxygen, becomes firmer and more solid and at the same time acquires greater porosity. All in all, this leads to the specific properties of a kyusu fired in this way when preparing green tea in terms of taste and effect. After firing, the special clay, which is rich in minerals, reacts in a characteristic way with the ingredients of the tea and the water (see Suitable For tab).


Special clay layer (chara チャラ) applied wafer-thin on both the interior and exterior. Develops a beautiful, characteristic sheen with age.


This traditional Kyusu is handmade from natural clay by a small, specialised studio in the famous Tokoname. The great tradition of craftsmanship and the extremely careful method of production make this Kyusu the ideal entry-level and everyday model for connoisseurs of high-quality Japanese green teas.

Tokoname is one of Japan's six ancient ceramic centres. High-quality earthenware has been produced here since the 12th century. The particularly ferruginous clay deposits still present there are responsible for the characteristic red body which, together with the oxidation firing, is so decisive for optimising the taste of the tea. A special feature of the production of Kyusu from Tokoname are the lids, which are cut by hand and fit precisely.


  • Handmade in original Tokoname studio
  • Hand cut lid
  • Red, ferruginous natural clay
  • Special black clay layer (chara チャラ) applied wafer-thin before firing, which develops a characteristic sheen with age

Suitable for

Recommended for the Following Japanese Green Teas:

Suitable for all Japanese varieties of all harvests.

Earthenware made from reduction spirit helps the green tea to have a larger and more balanced body and thus brings out the aromatic substances and the general taste better overall. At the same time, however, peaks and individual characteristics are smoothed out somewhat. These Kyusus can be described as all-rounders for all types of green tea.

In the long run, it is advisable to use only the similar tea types recommended above in the same kyusu. The Kyusu, which is unglazed on the inside, develops a patina in interaction with the respective tea, which improves and intensifies the taste over time. For this reason too, if possible, do not use tap or bottled water with a high lime content, but rather soft, low-lime water (similar to natural mountain spring water).


For the care of high-quality Japanese ceramics, please use low-limestone, soft water for all preparations and cleaning steps.

A kyusu should first be warmed with warm water before the actual tea preparation so that the clay can react better with the tea leaves. Only then are the tea needles put in with a wooden spoon. Depending on taste, variety and quality, 1-3 heaped teaspoons per person are recommended. Advanced connoisseurs usually prepare the tea much stronger than beginners, who are less accustomed to the intense taste and bitter substances.

Now pour the water carefully and slowly over the leaves, ideally from a yuzamashi (vessel for cooling the water after boiling) of the same or similar clay and firing. For better results, fill the water only to the top third of the sieve. During the brewing time, please close the lid.

To pour, hold the kyusu with one hand so that the thumb rests on the knob. Make sure that the small opening on the lid is at the same level with the spout. Then pour the tea slowly into the cup in several puffs and drink it fresh. If several cups are being filled, they should be poured in small steps one after the other to achieve an even result for all cups. At the end of the pouring process, carefully but firmly jerk the kyusu downwards repeatedly with both hands to extract the last, particularly rich drops from the tea.

Then leave the kyusu closed for the next infusion. After the last infusion, remove the tea completely from the kyusu and rinse it vigorously with water only. Do not scratch or otherwise clean the inside. Finally, rinse the inside and outside of the pot with low-limestone, soft water in order to avoid detrimental limescale deposits. Briefly rub the outside with a clean cloth, then leave the kyusu open to dry completely.


Cleaning the Exterior:

Only with clean water and a soft cloth. If dirty, rub with infused green tea and then rinse.

Cleaning the Interior:

Rinse only with clean water. Do not scratch or otherwise clean. During use, the kyusu accumulates patina on the inside, which should not be removed.

After using tap water containing limestone, rinse the kyusu inside and out with low-limestone, soft water, in order to avoid the deterioration caused by limescale deposits. Then wipe the outside with a clean, soft cloth.

It is advisable to use only the recommended similar tea types in the same kyusu in the long term (see the tab on tea types). The kyusu, which is unglazed on the inside, develops a patina in combination with the respective tea, which improves and intensifies the taste over time. For this reason, too, when preparing the tea and during the cleaning, it is best to use soft, low-calcium water (similar to natural mountain spring water) rather than tap or bottled water containing limestone.

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