The Art of Tea Workshop in Tokyo 5

The last day we finished several projects and raku fired our glazed pots.

1) Steve explaining,72_1

Steve explains how the procedure goes.

2) Steve strating the gas fring,72_1

Steve starts the gas firing.The temperature will be at 900 Celsius in 1 hr.

3) Orange color iside,72_1

Almost ready for take out.

4) Jennifer taking out pots,72_1

Jennifer taking out pots.

5) Smoking trashcan,72_1

You put the pots in a trash can. There was lots of paper in there. When it starts burning you quickly close the lid to get the reduction going, which affects the glazes.

6) Taking out pots,72_1

Still some burning  and flames.

7) Results,72_1jpg

The pots were taken out, put in water and put on a ledge to cool of further and look at the beautiful colors!

8) Results,72_2

We raku fired the big bowls and finished the workshop with a tea ceremony in our chawans and admired Tatsuo Shimaoka-san’s teabowl which Euan owns.

Thank you Steve, Euan and Kusakabe-san for the wonderful, interesting Art of Tea workshop!

The Art of Tea Workshop in Tokyo 4

After returning to the International School of Sacred Heart we glazed bisques pots for the raku we would do the next, last day.

Kusakabe-san showed us how.

In the evening we enjoyed our last dinner together in a Balinese restaurant.

8) Balinese dinner,72_1
Milan, Ixchel, Euan, Jennifer, Helen, Catherine, Kasakabe-san, Steve, Micha and Titus.

9) Balinese dinner,72_2

Lisa, Laura, Marianne, Swanica, Heather, Rebecca, Debi, and Jennifer. Unfortunately, Amber is missing, but with her due date for her pregnancy almost being up, she always went home to rest after our full days.

The Art of Tea Workshop in Tokyo 3

Kusakabe-san showed us the next day how to trim Japanese tea bowls. Every tea bowl has its own characteristic foot “kodai”.


He starts out trimming with a bamboo stick to make it even and to clearly mark the beginning of the bottom part of the bowl.



And of course every foot has a different name with the specific type of bowl.

Then we went to the Nihonbashi district in Tokyo to the Toyoda restaurant from Master Chef Touru Hashimoto-san.

1) Toyoda restaurant,72_1

2) Chef showing old building,72_1

Hashimoto-san shows us how the old restaurant looked like.

You have all kinds of different tea ceremonies. One of them is very elaborate and starts with a dinner. The food is very specially prepared and also the service ware is specifically chosen. Very important is to choose foods from the season as well as the dinnerware has its specific seasonal colors. Hashimoto-san prepared the dishes for this ceremony.

4) Hashimoto-san preparing the food,72_1

5) Hashimoto-san preparing the food,72_2
6) Prepared food,72_1

7) Prepared food,72_2

It all tasted very delicious and is exquisite to eat food prepared in such a caring way.

The Art of Tea Workshop in Tokyo 2

I am on my way back to the US and am in the train from Kamakura to Narita Airport what will take about 2 1/2 hours. A perfect time to continue my writing until the battery runs out.

The 2nd day started out with a demonstration of Euan Craig to make different kinds of ceramic ware for the food part of the tea ceremony: “Chakai seki dori”. They were all busy throwing or making slab plates or using plaster molds to make plates.

Then, after eating a delicious bento box lunch, we went to see the Tea Master Saito Noriko.1) Waiting for the train,72_1
We’re waiting for the train to Kita-Kamakura, an one hour train ride.
We divided in two groups and I took 8 participants to the Engakuji Temple (see blog 5/14/06 or Kamakura/Temple category) and the Kamakura Old Pottery Museum, which I just had visited last week (see blog 10/17/08 or category Kamakura).

It was pouring, but that gave a special, wonderful, mystic atmosphere.
2) Engakuji temple,72_1

3) Engakuji Temple,72_2

A  lantern on the Engakuji grounds.

4) Teaceremony,72_1

Saito Noriko-san and her team of helpers. In the back ground the Tokonoma with a scroll “Kakemono”. I wrote earlier about the teaceremony (see blog 2/9/07 or category chanoyu tea ceremony).

5) Kusa-san coiling,72_1

When we arrived again at the International School of Sacred Heart, Kusakabe-san showed us how to make teabowls other than throwing.

Here he makes a coil tea bowl.

6) From block,72_1

He makes a tea bowl by carving out a block of clay. First, he made a texture on the outside and trimmed a foot. Then you empty the block with a carving tool.

7) Euan burner,72_1 10) Debbie throwing slab,72_1

Euan drying a textured, slip colored block of clay with a torch. Debbie throws it on the floor to make it a slab from which she later made a vase.

11) Jennifer working with slab,72_1

Jennifer making a vase out of the torched slab and working on a coil pot.

11a) Helen block chawan,72_1

12) Milan making block chawan,72_1

Helen and Milan both working on a block chawan.

13) Steve,72_1

14) Steve,72_2

Steve Tootell, the organizer and camera man and everything else. He made everything possible. Thank you.

The Art of Tea Workshop in Tokyo 1

The 9th World Art Educators’ Workshop in Tokyo, Japan started in the evening with a first meeting for signing in and dinner. But before that we prepared for the coming days.

1) The art of Tea poster_1

Steve Tootell was the organizer of the workshop. The two Master Potters were Euan Craig and Kasakabe-san, the Master Chef was Hashimoto Touru and the Tea Master was Saito Noriko. I helped with setting up and with throwing: anything what needed to be done.

2) Kusakabe-san throwing teabowls,72_1

3) Kusakabe-san throwing chaire,72_1

Kusakabe-san is throwing teabowls “Chawan” and tea caddies “Chaire”.

I had turned the camera vertically, but understand now that you can’t do that. But it shows very well what they are presenting.

4) Euan throwing,72_1

Euan throws teaceremony food dishes “Chakai seki dori”.

5) Example bowls,72_1
A small example with drawing explanations of the many chawan and chaire Kusakabe-san threw.

Japanese Gardens

When I go to my friends on the other side of Kamakura, I bicycle over the grounds of the Hachimangu Shrine. The atmosphere is great and relaxing, especially, when you pass the very big pond.
But there are always people and sometimes big crowds and lots of schoolchildren. They come from everywhere to visit the shrine and they are mainly Japanese tourists. And this on a normal weekday.

Crowds at Hachimangu,72_1

On that day, when I bicycled on the Hachimangu grounds, I discovered eight installations of Japanese gardens along a path.

In Japanese culture, garden-making is a high art.Though often thought of as tranquil sanctuaries that allow individuals to escape from the stresses of daily life, Japanese gardens are designed for a variety of purposes. Some gardens invite quiet contemplation, but may have also been intended for recreation, the display of rare plant specimens, or the exhibition of unusual rocks.
Strolling Gardens require the observer to walk through the garden to fully appreciate it. A premeditated path takes observers through each unique area of a Japanese garden. Uneven surfaces are placed in specific spaces to prompt people to look down at particular points. When the observer looks up, they will see an eye-catching ornamentation which is intended to enlighten and revive the spirit of the observer. This type of design is known as the Japanese landscape principle of “hide and reveal”.




Stones are used to construct the garden’s paths, bridges, and walkways. Stones can also represent a geological presence where actual mountains are not viewable or present.
The raked gravel or sand simulates the feeling of water in Karesansui gardens. The rocks/gravel used are chosen for their artistic shapes, and mosses as well as small shrubs are used to further garnish the Karesansui style (Japanese Lifestyle). All in all, the rocks and moss are used to represent ponds, islands, boats, seas, rivers, and mountains in an abstract way.


A water source in a Japanese garden should appear to be part of the natural surroundings; this is why one will not find fountains in traditional gardens. Man-made streams are built with curves and irregularities to create a serene and natural appearance. Lanterns are often placed beside some of the most prominent water basins (either a pond or a stream) in a garden. In some gardens one will find a dry pond or stream. Dry ponds and streams have as much impact as do the ones filled with water.


Green plants are another element of Japanese gardens. Japanese traditions prefer subtle green tones, but flowering trees and shrubs are also used. In addition, bamboos and related plants, evergreens including Japanese black pine, and such deciduous trees as maples grow above a carpet of ferns and mosses, which give a broader palette of seasonal color.



The tradition of the Tea masters has produced highly refined Japanese gardens of evoking rural simplicity. Chaniwa Gardens are built for holding tea ceremonies. There is usually a tea house where the ceremonies occur, and the styles of both the hut and garden are based off the simple concepts of the tea ceremony. Usually, there are stepping stones leading to the tea house, stone lanterns, and stone basins “tsukubai” where guests purify themselves before a ceremony.
After the tea ceremony was refined by Sen Rikyu, the historical figure with the most profound influence on the Japanese tea ceremony, the tea garden, house, and utensils all served as a way to “awaken consciousness and to realize with humility our relationship with all that is around us and with the universe itself(Miller).” Also, tea ceremonies were partly designed to teach participants how to gain absolute control over body and mind. As a result, “it emphasizes not disconnection but connection between body movement and mind. Culturally, the Japanese followed the five Confucian virtues (loyalty, righteousness, politeness, wisdom, and trust) to ground these tea ceremony ideals off of. In short, the tea ceremonies were a cultural activity to teach Japanese/Confucian virtues that were important for life.

In the Kamakura and Muromachi periods (1185-1573), a great many gardens were created during these two time periods due to improved garden techniques and the development of Zen beliefs and the refinement of the tea ceremony. Another factor that allowed gardens to flourish stems from the fact that the shoguns simply enjoyed gardens.

It was a wonderful treat.

Kamakura coffee shop

I often go drink a cafe latte at the coffee shop close to Kamakura station. It is a Starbucks. In the US I supprt the local coffee shops, but this is a great place: nice atmosphere and good service. It is always busy and you meet nice people there. I always study some Japanese and do a Sudoku puzzle. The employees are very friendly.


This is Rie-san, Mai-san, Nori-san and Mari-san.

Kamakura Old Pottery Museum

And there, I finally found the museum! How could I have waited so long!
Close to the Engaku-ji temple stands this beautiful old farmhouse, transferred by the owner from the Fukui Prefecture, north of Kyoto. Actually, they are 3 combined farmhouses and were built around 1850 at the end of the Edo period.
1) Kamakura old pottery museum,72_1

2) entrance,72_2 Passing through the entrance gate I walked into the yard. It took my breath away, so quiet.

3) The yard,72_1

4) Old tree,72_1

I just have to show you all the pictures from the inside of all the art. It is really astounding!

5) Samurai painted door,72_1

Samurai outfit and duck painting on a sliding door.
6) Painted side pannels,72_1

Beautiful wild flower painting.

7) Wood carving,72_1

Some flower wood carving. It may have been a decoration above a door or gate.

8) Vessels,72_1

And then the pottery. Kamakura doesn’t have any clay deposits. So, originally there were no potters. They imported the vessels mainly from Echizen from which they also transferred the farmhouse. Echizen is unglazed, high fired ware. You see the flaming of the fire and the ash drippings on the pots.

Almost all the vessels in the museum are from the 13th-14th and 15th century.

9) Dishes, bottles,72_1

Dishes and bottles. Some are ash glazed.

10) Big vessels,72_1 Those storage vessels are probably from the Tamba kiln site located in Hyogo Prefecture near Kyoto.


Found shards in Kamakura.

13) The attic,72_1

End last but not least, the attic. Look at those big beams to support the roof and in the winter the heavy snow. And then those large storage vessels again. All very impressive.
I have to tell though that my father was an historian and the curator of the Open Air Museum in the Netherlands. He collected and transferred farmhouses important for the Dutch history into the museum and saved them for future generations.


I had a wonderful discovery today.

I rode my bicycle all the way to North “Kita” Kamakura, up a steep hill, to check out where the tearoom of the tea master for next week’s workshop of “Art of Tea” is.
It brought me on little alley ways with old Japanese style houses aligning the paths. The weather was perfect: sunny with a cool breeze.
Kamakura is surrounded by rocky hills, so, some ways tunnel through the hills to go from one place to another. And so, also the bicycle paths. I had to get of my bicycle and watch out for my head.

Bicycle,walk tunnel,72_1
Inside of tunnel,72_1

The inside of the tunnel. It may be carved by hand. It looked really old, but I could not find a date.
The other side of the tunnel,72_1

The other side of the tunnel. I see it when I pass it with the train and wanted to know already for a long time where it would lead to.So, it connects two parts of town. It is quicker to go through the hill then over it.

And this tunnel was really low.
Another tunnel,72_1

Then on top of a hill is a neighborhood temple with a very old tree. The roots of it are grown into the old stairs.
Old stairs and tree roots,72_1
Some slab stones were standing there with the carved out monkeys: “Hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil”.
Three monkeys,72_2
The three monkeys are a pictorial saying of wisdom and truth.
The source that popularized this pictorial maxim is a 17th century carving over a door of the famous Tosho-gu shrine in Nikko. The maxim, however, probably originally came to Japan with a Tendai-Buddhist legend, possibly from India via China in the 8th century (Yamato Period).
In Chinese, a similar phrase exists in the Analects of Confucius: “Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety”. It may be that this phrase was shortened and simplified after it was brought into Japan.
Monkey stones,72_1

Award Ceremony Mashiko Competition

It was great to be back in Mashiko.

When I got my catalogue I looked up my work and there was the picture of my Arsia Caldera Plate. They told me they had chosen the Circles of Life Plate. So, they switched the plates and the Arsia Caldera bears the name of “Circles of Life”. So, I think both of them are in: the title of one of them and the actual plate of the other. 20) Arsia Caldera_1

The “Circles of Life” Horsehair Plate ( the actual “Arsia Caldera”).

Circles of Life Horsehair Bowl,Judges' Commend. Award, Mashiko 08,72_1aThe actual “Circles of Life” Horsehair Plate.

1) Billboard Mashiko exhibition_1

The announcement poster of the exhibition of 97 winners in the 7th Mashiko International Ceramics Competition of 2008. This is where you go up the stairs to the Mashiko Tougei Messe, the Ceramics Arts Museum of Mashiko.

3) Before the start_1

The award ceremony.

9) Ribbon cutting_1

The opening of the exhibition by cutting the ribbon.

It is a great and interesting exhibition and the judges choose wonderful art work.

They found a perfect spot again for my plate. Incredible!

21) Arsia Caldera_2

“Circles of Life” Horsehair Plate

23) Swan Arsia Caldera_2

11) Jorgen's speech_2

Jorgen Hansen’s “Flower Pots” were chosen this year for the Special Judges’ Award by Rupert Faulkner (like my Horsehair Vase was chosen 2 years ago by him).

The first 2 awards are amazing.
26) Catalogue Hamada Shoji_1

A beautiful plate for the Hamada Shoji Award.

27) Catalogue Kamoda Shoji_1

Incredible art and craftsmanship for this flower for the Kamoda Shoji Award.
25) Catalogue front_1

The catalogue of the competition.

24) Catalogue Arsia Caldera_2

My page and on my page lucky number 55!

Judges' Commendation Award