12 Days of Kyusu

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Victoria
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Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:47 pm

Chip wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:00 pm
Victoria wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:41 pm
Shimizu Genji (Hokujo kiln 3rd generation) designated Master of Traditional Craftsman by the government, and broke with Tokoname tradition by introducing a new type of clay, natural unprocessed high fired unglazed stoneware, Yakishime. Asako Isobe shared with me that it is sourced from an ancient lake bed, Lake Tokai in Tokoname. I find this reduction fired iron oxide rich clay really brings out aroma, body, and aftertaste in roasted oolong. The pour like Chip said is perfect, the lid fit very precise.
I was not aware Hokujo's Yakishime were reduction fired?!?!? Does not have the appearance of reduction firing.
Yes, I was also surprised to hear that Hokujo’s yakishime pots are reduction fired. There is an interesting interview with Hokujo in which he discusses the clay used and other techniques, Tokoname-yaki – a traditional Japanese ware carving out a future.

on Page 2, the interviewer asks Hokujo a question;
“What kind of technique is used to deepen vermilion color among the same color type teapots? Hokujo said, “It’s crucial to go through the process ‘yakishime’, baking at higher temperature in kiln. Soil contains iron content and we apply reduction firing, which means inside kiln becomes lacks of oxygen.” The color of soil will be finished in austerely elegant orange-tan color, which still appears pretty natural. Fire condition inside kiln can’t be checked from outside, so the expert skills and techniques depending on experience would be required.”
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Jo
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:35 am

OCTO wrote:
Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:08 pm
Chip Jo this thread is really scratching my itch for Japanese clay tea ware... hahahahahaha....... *must resist temptation.... rubbing itch...*

Keep reminding self.... *don’t scratch... don’t scratch*

:mrgreen: :D :lol:
Resistance is :mrgreen: futile!
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debunix
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:02 am

The last few posts prompted a session this morning with my Sou blue kyusu, and its spout, which has a distinct downward lower lip....

Image

And it does have a lovely pour--click below to go to the video

Image
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Chip
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:29 am

Day 6
Kobiwako Hojo proprietary clay kyusu by Junzo Maekawa.
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Lots more photos below!
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Jo
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:31 am

Later start to our 'TeaDay', I took advantage of my free time and slept in.

Day 6, Junzo Maekawa 220 ml kyusu, using this first generation pot for only the 2nd time. Chip chose this one today as our others are a little too small for our test tea session.

A little more background since Hojo has provided a lot of information.

The clay used is a proprietary clay where Hojo "works side by side" with Junzo. This is clearly controlled by Hojo. This clay is called Kobiwako and is found near the borders of Iga and Shigaraki. According to Hojo, it is rich in minerals with minute particles of iron. Pictures can attest that there are no visible signs of iron on the pot. He claims it improves taste and body and is suitable for all types of tea. This Kobiwako clay is extremely porous.

The patina aging is evident everywhere and extreme, both inside and out. The interior patina is not particularly beautiful, instead rather grungy looking. The exterior patina is evident everywhere as well, attesting to this clay's porosity.

This pot as well as our others of Junzo's, as Chip has found is a notorious 'dribbler', thus staining is everywhere. With every steep there is a new layer of dribble, the destiny of staining is already in process, rag or no rag.

Based on the potter profile, it seems that Junzo is/was more of an engineer than an artist as Chip perceives more emphasis on function than form.

A few of the issues he has with these first gen pots are quality control which perhaps is rectified by now, 5 years later. Sloppy lids and malformed kyusu are prevalent in our collection. This one on the handle side slopes down, lid does not have a good connection. Chip is considering obtaining the newer gen as these issues may now be rectified.

This ball filter is fairly large, as is the spout opening which is indicative of this generation of pots. This filter allows for particles to fall through which is actually personally desirable.

The pour was rapid, clear with a steady
stream, definite dripper, perhaps due to the roughness of the clay which has a sandlike texture which may cause a cohesiveness with the tea at the spout.

Today's tea had very different nuances than our previous tea experiences. Deep, oceanic flavor start to finish, almost "clammy" effect, very full-bodied and flavorful. The oceanic sensation with lots of umami was very pleasurable. The first steep had little traces of bitterness, no astringency, was very balanced, not soft. By the third steep
astringency was quite noticeable, but palatable.

Sometimes very porous clay kyusu take away too much. But in Chip's humble opinion. This one does not, the clay, the collector and the potter have reached a remarkable balance.
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Chip
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:40 am

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Chip
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:51 am

A few issues
#1 ... 2 purchased were obviously "leaners", both leaning towards the handle, and should have been in Hojo's outlet.

The smaller/ taller in background of 2nd photo below easily tipped over. Hojo replaced this one.

The one used today in first photo and in front of 2nd photo, I did not notice the lean and let it go since it will not tip over being fatter/lower.
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Chip
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:05 pm

Issue #2 These all seem to be extreme spout dribblers likely due to both spout design and clay roughness/porosity.

And due to this extreme porosity of the clay, each pour simply adds layer over layer over layer to the growing stain.

I literally watched very closely as each dribble would disappear into the clay before each subsequent steep.

And no amount of wiping after the session is going to undo this process.

Again, this the 2nd session for this kyusu. To see the long term effect, see the next post of a same generation Kobiwako that I used for 100s of sessions X 5-7 steeps each time.
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Literally seconds after the above photo ...
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Chip
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:15 pm

Still Issue #2. Same generation Kobiwacho that has been used for 100s of sessions.
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Final steep today ... 2nd session for this kyusu.
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And after 2 sessions ... and so it begins! Faint dribble stain is already visible.
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Chip
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:34 pm

Issue #3. Not a huge deal and no longer an issue.

First gen all basically looked alike back then except for screen options, size, and handle design (each size had it's own type of handle the "the engineer" Junzo decided was best for the size.

A rather rudimentary design that, except for dribbling, worked very well.



Not an issue per se, but these will stain/patina A LOT! And everywhere! I am sure this is due to the extreme porosity of the clay. Overall, the exterior will darken including handle and spout. It is a rather crazy transformation.

Again, my heavily used Kobiwacho ...
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Even the kudai.
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Chip
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 12:43 pm

All that aside, this kyusu realllly brews well! I can see this kyusu being an enigma to some and controversial to many. My rating for this kyusu will likely reflect some of all these sentiments!

Stay tuned ...

I am inclined to purchase a new gen version which addresses "they all look alike" and hopefully the dribbling.
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Chip
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:03 pm

I will endeavor to rate each kyusu based upon the following categories on a scale of 1-10. With a noteworthy citation if applicable. 

Appearance-my impression
Form-relative conduciveness to brewing the test tea
Feel-tactile in hand
Pour & Screen function
Flavor based on test tea only
Overall

Hojo proprietary Kobiwacho kyusu by Junzo Maekawa.

Appearance- this is not a beautiful and precise Hokujo. It has a rudimentary feel and look and definitely lacks precision. It has ... issues. If you can get over that, it is a rough hewn diamond. 8

Form- Meh, "engineered" to brew tea well and it does this very well! 9

Feel- I like texture and this has it. Despite the rudimentary design, it feels well in hand in every respect. 10

Pour and screen function- pour is very fast but precise. Screen is perfect. But a major dribbler. I could go low or high on this. I am generous and give it a 9

Flavor- ok, Hojo "magic clay" (his words, not mine) brewed an incredible session. The clay as promised added body and flavor and depth! Truly GREAT! 10

Overall- I could again go low or high. Ultimately flavor saved the day! 9
...

I am hoping the new generation versions have corrected all the issues.
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pedant
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:18 pm

i only have experience with one of junzo's pots, but i think its spout is quite good as i said in another thread:
pedant wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:20 am
regarding junzo's craftsmanship.. i think it's excellent.

the pot i have from him has excellent ergonomics. his stuff is made with practicality in mind. nice, wide openings. generous handles. two air holes in the lid. form follows function, and yet nothing looks bad or over-exaggerated. hojo says junzo studied engineering, and it shows.

as for the spouts, the pot i have has excellent pour, and it's difficult to make it dribble in normal use but not completely impossible if you first prime it by wetting the spout's underside to make it more hydrophilic.
i think easily one of the best spouts i've seen. a little better than my hokujo pots (which are also great). i think it's surpassed only by jozan IV (yamada emu) and his son, yamada sou.
comparing pictures, my junzo spout has more of a downward lip than yours. i wonder if all his spouts are like that now.
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Bok
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:31 pm

Can also say that mine has perfect workmanship. Previous issues seem to have been rectified.
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Jo
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Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:38 pm

pedant wrote:
Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:18 pm
i only have experience with one of junzo's pots, but i think its spout is quite good as i said in another thread:
pedant wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 12:20 am
regarding junzo's craftsmanship.. i think it's excellent.

the pot i have from him has excellent ergonomics. his stuff is made with practicality in mind. nice, wide openings. generous handles. two air holes in the lid. form follows function, and yet nothing looks bad or over-exaggerated. hojo says junzo studied engineering, and it shows.

as for the spouts, the pot i have has excellent pour, and it's difficult to make it dribble in normal use but not completely impossible if you first prime it by wetting the spout's underside to make it more hydrophilic.
i think easily one of the best spouts i've seen. a little better than my hokujo pots (which are also great). i think it's surpassed only by jozan IV (yamada emu) and his son, yamada sou.
comparing pictures, my junzo spout has more of a downward lip than yours. i wonder if all his spouts are like that now.
Thanks pedant ...
Guess it appears we may soon own another kyusu! You just confirmed what Chip presumed.
Last edited by Jo on Mon Jan 07, 2019 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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