We are really happy that we got the chance to offer such an exclusive and rare piece of Japanese craft and tea history to you.
The Yamada Jozan family is by now one of the most famous families of teaware artists in Tokoname, at the latest since Jozan III became the first kyusu craftsman to be designated a living national treasure of Japan before his death. He brought a whole new standard of form, design and function to the world of Japanese teaware, that is still being further developed and perfected by his son Emu (current Jozan IV) and grandson Sou.
This set was made by his father Yamada Jozan II while he was still learning under the first Jozan. That's why the seal on the pieces still says Kojozan (or little Jozan), implying that it was made somewhere between the middle of the 1920s and 1943, before the first Jozan passed away.
The age is also significant, because it is said that in those times the legendary old Tokoname Shudei red clay was still used, which is thought to have run out later and be superior in quality to todays clays.
When we compared this set to modern Tokoname it definitely felt differnt both to the touch and in general craftsmanship and artistry. Having a direct hole filter the Kyusu pours well and quick once you got used to it and the small size makes it perfect for sessions of high quality teas of any genre. The Yuzamashi is great to handle and the cups a real pleasure to drink from. As for how the taste of tea brewed in it changes...
You have to find out for yourself!
About Tokoname and its clay:
Tokoname is counted as one of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan or Rokkoyō /六古窯. The others are Bizen, Seto, Shigaraki, Echizen and Tamba. The use of Tokoname wares reaches back to the end of the Heian-period (794-1185/92). Plates, tiles and such from there became widely used. With the maturation of Senchadō, the way of steeped tea, during the middle of the Edō-period (1600-1868) Tokoname also slowly started producing Kyusu and other tea implements.
The first teapot has been produced by Inaba Takamichi (稲葉高道) in the Bunsei Period (1818-29) after obtaining a book on teapot design previously owned by the Ashikaga shoguns (1336-1573).
The first Shudei or red clay teapot was produced in 1854 by Sugie Jyumon (杉江寿門) in collaboration with Dr. Hirano Chuji (平野忠司), an avid collector of Yixing pots, who found out that the clay of Tokoname had a similar composition as that used for his beloved Chinese teawares. They invited Kin Koshi (金恒士), a master potter from Yixing soon after and he helped significantly with the development of shape and function of Tokoname kyusu. Many masters after them added their touches to the craft and built a rich tradition to source from and build on.
How does it affect the tea you steep in it? The clay used in Tokoname ware ideally comes from the layers of earth beneath the hilly land of the area. It is smooth and vitrifies at lower temperatures in the kiln, allowing the craftsmen to form and fire it to an optimum for the particular use of the final product. Visually the red colour of Shudei is the most searched after, sadly leading to artists and companies mixing supplements into the clay to make it appear orange red. There are innumerable different variations in appearance and properties of the clay and just as many styles of the final kyusu. The optimal Tokoname teapot is said to balance out the liquor of the tea and make the aftertaste last for significantly longer.