Classic ways to relax in style

by Mio Yamada

Crafts that help perfect a calming break from it all.

Setting up the perfect view

There are names for particularly majestic views of Mount Fuji. “The Diamond Fuji” is when the sun meets the mount’s summit and it becomes a radiating lustrous peak, while the “Sakasa (Reverse) Fuji” materializes when Fuji is mirrored in perfect symmetry in a still lake below. When these happen in unison, it’s called the “Double Diamond Fuji” — truly a sight to behold.

If you haven’t been lucky enough to witness such views, Gingado — a life-goods brand of metalware manufacturer Nagae — has found a novel way to bring the Sakasa Fuji into the home. Better yet, it has combined the experience with a little sake. Designed by Hidekazu Kainai, the Sakazuki (large, ¥5,400) and Choko (small, ¥4,860) Mount Fuji Cups are sand-cast in tin in Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture, an area famous for its handmade metalware. The relief of Mount Fuji on the cup reflects in the shot of sake, making each one a miniature diorama of one of Japan’s most popular views.

Gingado also makes Fuji aluminum incense burners and vases (each ¥5,184), both of which produce the sakasa effect when filled with water, and come in the classic colors of wintry blue, autumnal red and sumi-ink black. The incense burner makes use of its pool to catch ash, while the vase includes a spiked holder that supports flowers like tiny trees arching over the water.


Pottering around at home

Nabeshima ware has a prestigious history. It began in 1675 when 31 ceramicists of Arita and Imari (in present-day Saga Prefecture) were selected to create luxury porcelain items for the shogun and daimyo of the day. Today, the Kawasoe family, descendants of one of the original 31, still make the highest quality porcelain at Nabeshima Kosengama — though, it is, of course, a lot more accessible.

Nabeshima Kosengama’s new Kosen collection, designed by Product Design Center’s Keita Suzuki, highlights modern applications of the three decorative styles that Nabeshima ware is celebrated for: colorful painted glazes, blue-and-white designs and translucent aqua green celadon finishes.

The lineup includes striking goblets and cherry-blossom shaped plates in multicolored or blue-and-white striped patterns, but it’s the Othello-like “reversi” game set (¥32,400) and Japanese teacup (¥2,160) that impress the most. A white shippō pattern replaces the reversi’s traditional square grid, while ceramic pieces in celadon or red, blue, yellow and green make the game look like a contemporary work of art. The teacup, meanwhile, may look simple, but it showcases a highly skilled glazing technique, where the celadon overlapping the rim has been so precisely applied that it naturally stops in a straight line halfway down the exterior. Not only does this create an attractive design, but the lip formed by the glaze allows the cups to be neatly stacked.

Kosen will launch April 1. For more information, visit the Product Design Center website.


Take a tea break

Hailing from Echizen, Fukui Prefecture, is the Chakan tea caddy by Yamatsugi Seishijo, a company that takes pride in the fact that no machinery is involved in any of its washi (Japanese paper) production.

Japanese tin tea caddies are often decorated with colorful paper, but the Chakan’s washi is monotone, its pattern only made visible by texture. Yamatsugi Seishijo calls this ukigami (raised paper) and it’s a company original. The ornamental arches and lines protrude as if embossed, but instead of being punched into a flat sheet, they are formed during the actual paper-making process. The result is an unusually well-defined sculptural pattern that feels solid to the touch. The textile is also resilient enough to be saturated in dye for intensely rich colors.

Available in different sizes and priced from ¥2,160 to ¥2,916, the Chakan can only be ordered directly from Yamatsugi Seishijo. For more information, visit the company’s Kami no Kami website.

www.kaminokami.jp (Japanese only)