Hokujo teaware

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Bok
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Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:37 am

Dear all,

Recent posts by Kyarazen about the latest batch of Hokujo Kyusus made me finally crack to see what all the fuzz is about... The name kept popping up in posts and my curiosity got the better of me over my already full tea ware cabinet.

Now that they are/were available in proper gongfu sizes of 75-95ml I had no more excuses not to see for myself! Snatched up the second last of the flatter version of it.

In anticipation of the impending arrival of my first ever purchase of a Japanese teapot I would like to gather a few opinions and recommendations.

From what I gather, they seem to work very well with oolong, especially Taiwanese oolong. Some like Victoria enjoy their roasted/heavier oxidised oolongs in it. I have also heard others mention it being exceptional for greener oolongs. It is his own special blend of clay, I understand. Anyone know more about its composition/properties?

Feel free to comment, join in on the praise, or just make this a general Hokujo Fan thread :)
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Bok
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Mon Aug 06, 2018 4:40 am

Curious, that the teapots get actually more expensive with decreasing size! But then, maybe not so much as it is way more difficult to throw a small pot than a larger one :mrgreen:

Also had a look at his son's work, but it feels a bit less elegant and refined. Anyone compared?
The filter issue that the previous small batches had seems to have lead to a new filter variety. Hopefully pouring smoothly!
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ShuShu
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Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:35 am

Was also wondering whether the big price gap between him and his son's work has anything to do with material/clay or is it the value of craftsmanship and reputation.
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Bok
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Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:58 am

ShuShu wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:35 am
Was also wondering whether the big price gap between him and his son's work has anything to do with material/clay or is it the value of craftsmanship and reputation.
Clay looks pretty much identical to me.
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Victoria
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Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:44 pm

Special orders will be more expensive. In Japan I’ve seen, sons youthful pots will be cheaper than experienced elders. All My Hokujo pots pour perfectly, both sesame and ball filters. I use his pots mostly for roasted oolong, but had one reserved for LiShan and DaYuLing or sim. but now use that one for sencha.

There is a nice Hokujo thread with members pots and where I posted a while ago at TC.
Regarding Shimizu Genji (Hokujo 3rd generation) material used, from my earlier post; ‘His dense pots are made of natural unprocessed high fired unglazed stoneware, Yakishime. Breaking with tradition he introduced this new type of clay to Tokoname's lineup. The clay is high in iron oxide, oxide reacts with tannins smoothing out tannic bitterness. The high quality clay used is somewhat porous, bringing out aromatics while maintaining the body of tea. The pots are hand thrown, dense but lightweight with relatively thin walls. I believe they are reduction fired, though the pots are not blackened from carbon. I find reduction firing brings out aroma and aftertaste. The pour is perfect and lid is an exact fit... a delight to handle’

Since you just bought a Hokujo from Artistic Nippon, you might also ask Toru for further information.
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ShuShu
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Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:52 pm

Victoria wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 3:23 pm
Here is a page from a 1980’s Tokoname teaware directory, showing Shimizu Genji (Hokujo 3rd generation) with his second son Kohokujo, Shimizu Takayuki
Thanks for the comment Victoria!
Have you tried Kohokujo’s work?
I see it quite a lot and material looks similar to Hokujo. Was thinking about trying them buy never heard any input about them
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Victoria
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Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:15 pm

ShuShu wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:52 pm
Victoria wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 3:23 pm
Here is a page from a 1980’s Tokoname teaware directory, showing Shimizu Genji (Hokujo 3rd generation) with his second son Kohokujo, Shimizu Takayuki
Thanks for the comment Victoria!
Have you tried Kohokujo’s work?
I see it quite a lot and material looks similar to Hokujo. Was thinking about trying them buy never heard any input about them
I have not held a Kohokujo, but from what is available at AN, the clay looks to be the same as his father’s. They both work out of the Hokujo kiln in Tokoname. The proportions and character are very different between the two.
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Bok
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Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:19 pm

Victoria wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:44 pm
Special orders will be more expensive. In Japan I’ve seen, sons youthful pots will be cheaper than experienced elders. All My Hokujo pots pour perfectly, both sesame and ball filters. I use his pots mostly for roasted oolong, but had one reserved for LiShan and DaYuLing or sim. but now use that one for sencha.
Thanks Victoria for taking the time to write this extensively, knew I could count on you for this one!

I found bits here and there on teachat, but more concerned with the usage of Japanese teas. Mine will in all likelihood drink very little of its own related teas, which is why I am curious to how it performs with oolongs. When it arrives, I will give it the full rotation of my teas and report back.

Any reason you abandoned its use for Lishan and Co? When I recently discovered that special Dong pian it made me think how high mountain can (sometimes) have hints of Sencha-ness.

When following Kyarazens remarks on Hokujo pots over the years, I sometimes got the feeling, reading between the lines, that they perform better in terms of clay-tea reaction, than Yixing clays :shock:
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Bok
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Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:35 pm

Another thing I was wondering is patina. Does his teaware change over time? Most sets I see, seem to look pristine in condition.
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Victoria
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Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:21 pm

Bok wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:19 pm
Any reason you abandoned its use for Lishan and Co? When I recently discovered that special Dong pian it made me think how high mountain can (sometimes) have hints of Sencha-ness.
Bok, After I wrote that I keep one Hokujo for LiShan & DaYuLing, but switched to sencha for that pot, I realized right in front of me was that pot, a 190ml nanban kaolin chip kyusu, paired with HY Chen’s Charcoal light roasted Lishan Primitive Wild Forest. Seems right now I’m alternating using that pot between lighter roasted oolong, and lightly roasted sencha. This intermixing works fine. I do though rinse a pot with near boiling water after using it, which flushes out some of the residual tea oils from that session.

I agree, and have commented in the past, how certain high mountain oolong with higher theanine content have sweet umami-like tasting notes, as well as sweet chestnuts, sweet potatoe, evergreen, pine, and more, not the same but reminiscent ....
Bok wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:19 pm
When following Kyarazens remarks on Hokujo pots over the years, I sometimes got the feeling, reading between the lines, that they perform better in terms of clay-tea reaction, than Yixing clays :shock:
For lightly oxidized oolongs like LiShan, DaYuLing, ShanLinXi I mostly like using Hongni yixing and Shimizu Ken's shudei clay.
For roasted oolongs aside from Hojuko’s slightly more porous stoneware, I like using Zini purple clays, but it depends on the level of roast. Hard to generalize though since each pot will vary. Also, light roast w/low oxidation can go in Hokujo, as well as a few different yixing; Hongni, Nei Zhi Wai Hong, Qing Shui Ni, Zhuni ..... my yixing preferences are just based on trial and error using pots I have from 60-90’s.
Bok wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:35 pm
Another thing I was wondering is patina. Does his teaware change over time? Most sets I see, seem to look pristine in condition.
Regarding patina, I’ve been using one Hokujo with roasted Taiwan oolong nearly every day for several years now, and the inside is quite a bit darker than it use to be, the outside is also a shade darker but not as much as the inside. My other Hokujo pots that I use maybe 4x month each, have only changed slightly, just a shade darker.
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Bok
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Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:46 pm

Thanks again, no further questions at this point :)

Anticipation is mounting, especially for this ultra small size! Will allow me to do good side by side comparisons.
(edit)
What I am curious about is how it will compare with local Taiwanese wood-fired pottery!
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Victoria
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Tue Aug 07, 2018 1:08 am

Correction update, deletion of previous post (to eliminate misinformation) and repost:

I wrote to Asako Isobe for confirmation regarding Hokujo page #222 found in a 1980’s Tokoname teaware directory (that Ferg kindly sent me). My suspicions were correct, so rather than update, I am reposting her comments here. Asako who is in Aichi, represents many Tokoname craftsmen such as those at Hokujo and Yamada kilns. A few of us here have acquired beautiful Hokujo, Emu Yamada pots from her while in Tokoname, and via her FaceBook page using messenger. Her web site http://isobe.shop-pro.jp/

She has informed me that this picture is of Hokujo (Shimizu Genj) when he was 35 with his father. I suspected as much given it was taken in 1980, plus Genji has those happy playful eyes still seen in his current pictures.
From Asako: “The book was published in 1980, small circulation only in Tokoname. The picture is of Shimizu Genj (aka Hokujo) and Genji’s father, Shimizu Keizo. Genji’s father is Keizo. Keizo (has) already died. When this book was published, Takayuki (aka Kohokujo) was 4 years old. The president of our company (my husband) is the best friend with Takayuki. They were high school classmates.

Thank You Asako.”

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Bok
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Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:45 am

It has arrived! Lightning speed, only ordered Sat night. Impressive packaging skills by artistic nippon. Could not have been wrapped any safer. More to follow...
Very cute in that size :P
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Bok
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Tue Aug 07, 2018 8:07 pm

Really need to take some pictures, please bare with me.

Hokujo really is a master potter! There is one detail in the spout design that escaped me when looking at the images before buying:
It is not straight, but slightly slanted in a way that when you pour it is in a perfect vertical line, taking into account the rotation by the hand and wrist. I have never seen this kind of clever design! And from my own pottery experience I know how hard this is to do in such a precise way. Straight and geometric is easy, but planned off-geometric is really hard!

Super lightweight as well, lighter than any other pot I own. Been soaking it in water now and hope I soon have some leisure to start brewing and taking pictures for everyone to share the excitement (although I come late to the party :mrgreen: ).
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Bok
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Wed Aug 08, 2018 4:31 am

Finally first impressions of my 95ml teapot :)
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