May 2023





[How You Use It Is up to You! Chobundo’s Whale Chopstick Rest]

Chobundo’s Whale Chopstick Rest is popular for its cute size and rounded form. It is a product that people see in our showroom and always say, "How cute!" The blue whale, the world's largest animal, is approximately 25 to 30 meters long, making it larger than the length of a Shinkansen train, yet it is a chopstick rest that fits in the palm of your hand. It is hard not to think it is cute.

In fact, this is a whale made in Yamagata, Japan, by Chobundo, a manufacturer of Yamagata castings with a 900-year history. The third-generation owner of Chobundo developed this product in collaboration with a design office. It can be used not only as a chopstick rest, but also as a paperweight or an objet d'art. Yamagata cast metal is called "usuniku-birei (thin-walled and gorgeous)" because of its thin wall thickness and beautifully cast surface.

We would be more than happy if this cute whale could trigger your interest in Yamagata cast iron and tetsubin. If you see one in our showroom, please take a look and touch it. You will definitely be attracted by its smooth texture and cuteness.

Chobundo’s Whale Chopstick Rest (now back in stock for the first time in several months)
Showroom Information









[Kyo-Yaki and Kiyomizu-Yaki]

Kyo-yaki and Kiyomizu-yaki are traditional Kyoto crafts that have developed since the Momoyama period (1573-1600) along with the popularity of the tea ceremony.

"Kiyomizu-yaki" was the generic name for pottery produced at kilns in the Gojozaka area, the approach to Kiyomizu-dera Temple, and "Kyo-yaki" was the generic name for pottery produced in Kyoto, including Awataguchi-yaki and Otowa-yaki. Since the official name "Kyo-yaki and Kiyomizu-yaki" became the official name for traditional crafts designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, all pottery produced in Kyoto is now called "Kyo-yaki and Kiyomizu-yaki."

Unlike other pottery production areas, Kiyomizu-yaki and Kyo-yaki do not have a specific style or technique, but are a fusion of various molding and decorative techniques, such as tebineri, rokuro, kata, tsuke, iroe, sabie, and kochi. This is due to the fact that Kyoto, the capital of Japan, was a city that attracted the finest materials and craftsmen from all over Japan, as well as the presence of shrines, temples, royalty, and aristocrats who supported the culture of the city. The good qualities of the various production areas have been accumulated to create the present-day Kyo-yaki and Kiyomizu-yaki. Kiyomizu-yaki is unique in that it is produced in small quantities and is very rare because most of the processes are carried out by hand. Although there are still more than 300 potteries in Kyoto, the industry is small in scale compared to other famous production centers, and because of the limited amount of items that can be produced, Kyo-yaki and Kiyomizu-yaki may not catch the attention of the public.

Kyoto, as the center of Japan, has long been a huge market for pottery from all over the country. In the Momoyama period (1573-1600), along with the popularity of the tea ceremony, Raku-yaki and various tea ceremony utensils and vessels began to be produced in Kyoto City, and were offered to tea masters, court nobles and court nobles, and lords and temples in various regions. It is said that Raku-yaki, which Chojiro began to produce under the guidance of Sen no Rikyu, a famous tea master who served Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, marked the beginning of full-fledged Kyoto and Kiyomizu-yaki. In the Edo period (1603-1867), the techniques were refined by master potters such as Nonomura Ninsei and Ogata Kenzan. After Inzan, many kilns went into decline. However, Okuda Eisen, who fired porcelain for the first time in Kyoto, Aoki Mokubei, Kinkodo Kamesuke, the brothers Ninami Douhachi and Ogata Shuhei, and the father and son of Eiraku Hozen and Wazen have left their names in history as master potters of Kyo-yaki and Kiyomizu-yaki in the Edo period. Their works reproduced and applied the techniques and styles of pottery from China, Korea, and Japan, while at the same time showing some individuality of their own, giving birth to a variety of styles and shapes in Kyo-yaki and Kiyomizu-yaki. The techniques and designs were not limited to Kyoto, but spread to Kutani and other parts of Japan.

The Kikkougama kiln in Osaka, which we carry in our store, is one of the kilns that learned pottery from the masters of Kyo-yaki. During the Edo period, Jihei Toda, a native of the Iyo-Ozu domain, went to Kyoto to learn pottery from masters such as Ryonyu IX of the Raku family, Rokubei Kiyomizu I, Dohachi Ninami, and Shusai Asai, and founded Jusoken Shogetsu in Jusomura, Osaka. The name Kikkougama Kiln originated when the 11th shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate was pleased with the turtle's food basket (jikirou) and gave the kiln the name Kikkou, after the turtle's shell, "kikko" (turtle shell). Kikkou-yaki is the only pottery remaining in Osaka today, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has about 30 pieces in its collection.

Kikkougama's deliciously shaped Broad Bean Chopstick Rest are molded in a unique clay mixture containing a layer of charcoal, baked at 1,000 degrees, and then glazed and colored clay is applied by hand with a brush. The base is made of the same clay and then fired, so the bottom is also colored. Each chopstick rest has different shades and textures, with vivid yet deep colors, and an easy-to-use size and shape with a gentle roundness that gives a sense of stability when chopsticks are placed on it, overflowing with the good qualities of handmade work. They are currently on display in the Sanjo Showroom, so please take a look at them when you visit our store.

Kikkougama's Broad Bean Chopstick Rest
Sanjo Showroom


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[Japanese Conveyor Belt Sushi]

Conveyor belt sushi (kaiten-zushi) is a place where you can casually enjoy sushi not only in Kyoto, where we live, but also in all of Japan. There are counters, so you can casually go in alone, and tables can be enjoyed by two people or a family.

The lanes usually have popular items so that anyone can pick them up quickly. Recently, however, with the evolution of technology, sushi ordered on a touch panel is delivered in a special lane and stops at your table, so you don't have to worry about picking up someone else's order by mistake. You can place your order without worrying about when the sushi you ordered will arrive.

One of our favorite conveyor belt sushi restaurants is Kurasushi. They do not use any of the four major additives (chemical seasonings, artificial sweeteners, synthetic colors, and artificial preservatives) in all of the more than 200 ingredients served at their restaurants, including gari, soy sauce, vinegar, and dashi, as well as in the sushi. They not only serve safe and delicious sushi, but also pursue the speed of serving and the enjoyment of eating sushi, using Japanese rice, carefully selected ingredients from all over Japan, sushi vinegar, soy sauce, and dashi.

Most impressive of all is the company's effort to achieve low prices, starting at 115 yen per plate. Even if you buy the ingredients at the supermarket, it would be impossible to make sushi at home at this price. However, in such a wonderful place, we rarely see tourists from overseas. If you have come all the way to Japan and are a sushi lover, it would be a shame to miss out on the conveyor belt sushi! Japanese companies are very good at offering "not expensive but very tasty." And sushi is a fast food from Japan that is more readily available than you might imagine.

It is not only traditional items such as tai (sea bream) and tuna that are on the menu at kaiten-zushi restaurants. If raw fish isn't your thing, there are also takuan and cucumber rolls and sushi with barbecued meat on top. And what is surprising is that you can also eat udon, ramen, and rice bowls. Kaiten-zushi is Japanese food entertainment.

Now, do you want to try kaiten-zushi? You can find it anywhere in Japan, so please open the door to it.

Kurasushi (pronounced "Kurazushi" in Japan)
Showroom Information