Mashiko part 3, actually buying pots

Pot number 1, a small tenmoku dish from Hamada Museum, for my good friend who drove me to Aberdeen airport at 5am to catch my flight to London to connect with the Narita flight. No photo of this. ImagePot number 2, a white glazed vase. Half way down the high street at 3pm and despairing of finding anything open which wasn’t a tanuki shop. We were told that the best stuff is always on the upper floors, but with so many shops it seemed too time consuming to try every top floor of every shop. We were looking for 2 galleries recommended to us but of course we couldn’t read the signs and had only vague descriptions of them. Finally I nipped into a small one room place sited back from the pavement. Some nice little pieces and one very attractive Ido style teabowl (I know this because JH had been to the “Ido Tea Bowls: Treasured Possessions of Muromachi Daimyo” exhibition in Tokyo) with accompanying major price tag. Image At this early stage of my visit there was no question, the bowl remained and the vase came home, fulfilling all the criteria elegantly.

Pots number 3 & 4, pressed tenmoku dish, shino glazed tokkuri.

Finally we found the two galleries recommended by Maggie Zerafa (a Skye potter who apprenticed in Mashiko for two years, Toko and Moegi. What treasure troves. Most of the work on display is functional for Japanese purposes, many different dishes for individual portions, even so most would stand alone proudly on display for their forms and surfaces alone. I have always loved rich dark tenmoku and this is a lovely example. I would be glad if anyone could explain how the aubergine motif in the glaze is achieved.  ImageAfter a long time looking JH drew my attention to a small unglazed sake cup (guinomi) of rough clay, wood fired and set amongst an eclectic grouping of unrelated pots. I hadn’t noticed it but once seen was utterly smitten. Each face was different, like morning, evening and midnight; small fused feldspars shining like stars in a dense black sky, a flush of glowing red and the cool silver grey of a well reduced clay body. We asked who had made it and the answer sealed it’s fate – Matsuzaki Ken. It’s coming home, but with whom? We did a deal for joint custody, at which moment JG joined us and asked if there were any more by Matsuzaki. Two more appeared from the depths of the store. A squared, sake bottle (tokkuri) with tiny winged flanges, thick white crawled shino glaze flushed orange which JG fell for instantly but didn’t appeal so much to me. The third piece, another tokkuri, was rather plain. I was a little disappointed, no wow factor in this pot but it was a lovely organic shape, gently swollen belly, short neck and flaring rim, classic. Image

The slightly pinholed matt shino glaze covers entirely it apart from the three finger marks left from dipping the piece in the glaze bucket. The iron in the body has been drawn through the glaze to colour it a dark pinky brown. It was the feel of the piece which finally sold it to me, soft and warm it comes perfectly to the hand, (and frankly I wasn’t leaving the shop the only one without a Ken pot). It grows on me, it is modest and quiet and most importantly, I now understand, it comes with it’s story of a wonderful day in Mashiko with friends and potters.

ImageNow that this piece is home on Skye I find the colour is that of the native birch trees in winter, the colour in the heart of the deep mounds of moss in those birch woods, the colour of the evening hills on the mainland as the sun sets.