Thursday, August 27, 2015

August 27th, 2015

Joel and I received a wonderful surprise in the mail today!

Joel's Auntie Seiko (Joel's grandmother's brother's wife) passed away recently. Kathy, Joel's cousin, sent us this lovely tea pot and two mugs from her house. Kathy knew it would be something we would treasure.
She told us that it was purchased by Joel's great grandfather. I am not sure when, but I will try to find out. I would be very interested in learning how old this set it.

Ma means horse

After a search of the internet I was able to figure out that this tea set is Somayaki pottery and was made in the Fukushima Prefecture (northern Japan) probably in the village of Namie. Sadly, the 300 year old industry was severely effected by the earthquake and nuclear disaster in 2011 Namie is within 20 km of the nuclear plant and all the residents were forcibly evacuated from their homes. Families have started to rebuild their livelihood and art in other cities in Fukushima Prefecture. (Source)

"Somayaki was established in 1690 in Fukushima, Northern Japan. During the Edo period, it enjoyed the protection of the Soma lords and grew to over 100 kilns, making it one of the biggest and most important potteries in Northern Japan. However with the advent of the Meiji restoration, the influence of the lords declined and the number of kilns gradually decreased to the 27 still in production today. Somayaki is proud of its history and draws from 300 years of tradition to create distinctive, unique pieces popular with collectors everywhere. One of the most recognisable characteristics of Somayaki is its "Hashirigoma"(galloping horse motif). The origin of the motif is the subject of much speculation, but there can be no doubt that it is related to Soma's long history of horse handling ( the "ma" in Soma actually means "horse"). Over 1,000 years ago, horses were used as a form of martial training. Warriors were prepared for battle by trying to wrestle sacred banners from the backs of wild horses. This tradition is re-enacted during the "Soma-nomaoi" festival held every July, drawing many visitors to the area. The galloping horse motif is painted on Somayaki following the tradition of the Kano School of Painting, one of the most prominent and respected schools of art in Japan.

 Another unique feature is the use of "double walls". The pieces are constructed with an inner wall which can be seen through cut-outs in the outer shell. As well as adding an interesting dimension, this feature also has the added advantage of keeping the tea warm while leaving the outer surface cool. "Aohibi" is the name given to the distinctive blue crackled glaze seen on most Somayaki ware. A combination of these three distinctive features combine to create warm, rustic pieces imbued with a sense of history and peculiar to the area in which they are produced." (Directly quoted from

I also learned that the hearts represent bird's footprints:

and the lines are waves:

You can read that for yourself and see photos of a craftsman working here

Please enjoy these other details of this amazing piece of history:

I tried to bring out what this was on the bottom of the teapot's lid. I wish it was more clear

Bottom of the tea pot

I hope you enjoyed this surprise as much a we did! Thanks so much for thinking of us Kathy!

Have a great night!!