A full accounting

If there ever were a point at which a person can have too many teapots…

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I must soon be approaching it.

Unpacking and then organizing all my stuff after my move has led me to reassess what I have, and at least think about (and perhaps act upon) what I should keep and what I don’t need/want anymore.  What you see above are all my unglazed teapots – there are a few missing, because they live in boxes and I didn’t quite feel like taking them out.  Of these 100+ items, however, I really only use these ones on a very regular basis

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A number of others I use more sparingly

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Some I used to use a lot, but for various reasons, I don’t anymore

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And some that I know I’ll never, ever use, because I got them for more or less decorative purposes, and they are sized and shaped in such a way as to making tea brewing almost impossible

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Among all the Yixing pots here, there are a few tokoname, which are more or less easily identifiable.  There are also the ugly ducklings — Santou pots, which are less obvious.

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After I took this picture I realized that one eluded my eyes and hid among a bunch of yixing pots.

So, what does that leave me?  There are still dozens of pots that I have not accounted for, basically.  One reason is because quite a few of them are in bad shape, cleanliness wise.  I need to wash and clean them before I can actually use them, and am currently in the process of doing that.  I also need to start doing a better job of rotating my teapots so that I have less “rarely, if ever, used” ones and more “frequently used” ones instead.  In other words, I need to spread the tea around.  Finally, I need to start culling the collection.  There are some items here that I know I’ll never use (personal preference), or are just not practical (usually too big).  So, those need to go.

Yamada Jozan

I’m using this today

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Looks awfully like a yixing, but is in fact a tokoname pot made by one of the Yamada Jozan (there have been three so far, in good Japanese tradition of passing down the name).  I’m not quite sure which generation made this particular one — some indication online seems to suggest the first, but I can be wrong.  This type of pot was made basically in imitation of yixing ware, and the Yamadas have been particularly good at it.  I got this without the original tomobako, but it comes with a yuzamashi and five cups.  I’m only using the pot at the moment, and ignoring the rest.  Obviously, this was intended for sencha, but I’m making Chinese tea with this, with good results.

Spot the difference game, part two

Ok, we’re back.

To keep you all occupied while I am still learning the ropes, here’s something for you:

Which one of these three pots is Yixing?  For the two others that are not, what are they respectively?

Keep in mind this is pre-cleaning.

The prize is either a cup (chosen from a group of them) or a few tea samples.  Winning entry must specify what each pot is.  Good luck :)

Tokoname yaki

Is this a yixing pot?

At first glance it might be, but look closer

Maybe not?

The pot is a tokoname yaki, which are sort of the Japanese equivilent of Yixing pottery. They are widely used to make tea, and most of the time, the pottery comes in the shape of a typical Japanese kyusu, with a side handle rather than the back handle like this one. However, in the 19th century I believe some guy from China (IIRC he’s called Jin Shiheng) went to Japan and taught them how to make Yixing style pottery, and so nowadays there are pots that look like this — sort of Yixing like in their appearance.

The clay, as you can see, is a bit on the orange side of things. It’s very fine. The pot is thrown on a wheel, I think, rather than being molded like a Yixing pot would. In this sense, it sort of reminds me of Shantou pots from China, which are also of an orange colour clay and thrown on wheels.

This particular pot was extremely dirty (and thus extremely cheap), and after cleaning, I discovered that there’s a nasty crack at the tip of the spout. It’s still usable, but doesn’t pour very well. I bought it partly as an experiment to see the clay for myself, and to play around with it, eventually. There’s a Yamada Jozan (four generations of them now) who is the most famous of these potters who make such back-handled pots. Prices for those can be rather high because that line is basically designated as National Living Treasures in Japan… and I am personally not sure what the value in them may be, other than as art objects.

Regardless, one more toy from Japan.

Nothing too interesting going on

Sorry folks, been rather busy the past few days and haven’t had a chance to drink real tea. Instead, it’s been teabags of some sort or another… such as Bigelow Darjeeling (which tastes nothing like Darjeeling) and that kind of thing. Things should go back to normal tomorrow as I return home.

In the meantime, though, I found this site about Yixing pots. It’s a very comprehensive site — probably more info and pictures than any other place online regarding antique (or at least allegedly antique) pots. It’s in Japanese, so probably not too many of you can read it, but click on any of the links in the bottom — you should find pictures that are worth your time just staring at.