Written as “kiln change”, Yōhen refers to the variations in colour and texture on the surface of ceramics that happen during the firing process. This is a feature found across various Japanese pottery styles including Tokoname, Shino, Bizen and Tenmoku. Within Tokoname-yaki, the typical two-tone Yōhen effect can be achieved by firing the ceramic item for a second time in a reduction furnace, but by partially burying it in rice husks or ashes, only the exposed part changes colour.
|Product||2x Yunomi teacups, brown|
|Origin||Tokoname, Aichi, Japan|
|Maker||Jinshu 甚秋 / Seiji Ito 伊藤 成二|
|Dimensions||Ø7.1cm x 8.5cm|
|Finish||Unglazed (焼き締め Yakishime) outside, glazed inside|
|Decoration||Ombré (Yōhen 窯変 )|
|Artist mark||Signature on base|
Each piece is handmade and unique, therefore colour, volume, dimensions and weight may vary slightly
Founded by Minoru Ito in 1955, Jinshu Tōen is a ceramics kiln in Tokoname that is now represented by Seiji Ito (b.1949), the second generation of Jinshu. A much sought-after certified Traditional Craftsman, he began his career as a potter at the age of twenty initially focusing on teacups before turning his hands to Kyusu teapots.
Combining form and function, the teapot that defines Jinshu is the multi-award winning Hira (“flat”) Kyusu. Shallow with a wide base, its shape enables tea leaves to spread out across the increased surface area to enhance the aroma and flavour, besides helping cool down hot water faster with the greater exposure to air. For these reasons the Hira model is perfect for brewing fragrant green teas at lower temperatures.
Apart from the red Shudei clay that Tokoname is famous for, Jinshu also uses white and black clays, sometimes mixing them together to produce unique results. Embracing materials and techniques indigenous to his hometown, characteristic Jinshu finishes include Mogake: wrapping seaweed around the 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 his signature matte finish using Chara: a coating with properties between a glaze and an engobe.
Literally a “utensil for drinking hot water,” the Yunomi is a tall, cylindrical Japanese teacup that is typically made of ceramic and does not have a handle. It is ideal for everyday use for all types of teas – with the exception of Matcha, which is best served in a Chawan tea bowl. Please use both hands when drinking from a Yunomi: one hand around the cup to hold it, and the other underneath to support. Since Japanese teas are served at temperatures below 80°C the Yunomi should not be too hot to handle, and will provide extra warmth to the hands during colder months. For this reason, Japanese teas that are served at higher temperatures, such as Hojicha, Genmaicha, and Bancha are particularly recommended for Yunomi.
Pottery has been produced in the city of Tokoname, Aichi prefecture, as far back as the 12th century, and since 1976 has been protected as a Traditional Craft of Japan. Tokoname was the site of the largest and oldest of the legendary Rokkoyō (六古窯): the “Six Ancient Kilns” of Japan, and continues to be the leading ceramics production centre in Japan today. Synonymous with Tokoname is the local iron-rich Shudei clay that turns a bright red after baking. When fired a second time in a reduction oven, the red transforms to black – another characteristic colour of Tokoname-yaki. Traditional Tokoname Kyusu teapots are unglazed on the inside, allowing the tannins in the tea to interact with the iron in the clay body, which is said to reduce astringency and highlight the sweetness of green teas. Another key feature of Tokoname Kyusu are the perfectly fitting lids, which are ground into the clay body after firing in a technique known as Suriawase. Besides red and black, Tokoname wares can also come in a variety of colours and finishes by mixing other pigmented clays or coating in Chara (チャラ) slip glaze, as well as traditional decorative techniques such as Yōhen (窯変) ombré and Mogake (藻掛け) "seaweed covering".
Hand wash with warm water and a soft cloth or sponge, using washing-up liquid as necessary. Pat dry with a towel and/or leave to air dry naturally. Do not put in microwave.