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Kyusu by Gafu Itō
Kyusu by Gafu Itō
Kyusu by Gafu Itō
Kyusu by Gafu Itō
Kyusu by Gafu Itō
Kyusu by Gafu Itō

Kyusu by Gafu Itō

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Japan, Tokoname
AGE Contemporary
MATERIAL Red and black Tokoname clay

Gafu Itō is a Japanese potter situated near Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture, who works with high quality clays, forming everything from body to filter and lid of the Kyusu by himself. His works are fueled by the love for his craft and tea itself, which you can see and feel in every one of his pieces. Tokoname, the place where Gafu lives and works, has a long history with pottery and an especially
good reputation for its Kyusu. Let’s explore the history of these kilns a bit!

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. You can really feel all this heritage in Gafu Itōs works. This time we are happy to be able to provide
some pots by him that are made both from red and black clay.
But with all this talk about clay, 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.
In our experience Gafu Itōs kyusu do just that. Through the clays finely porous structure it may take a while to absorb some flavor and show its full effect, which makes you of every step of the process.
We find it works very well with every type of tea and definitely improves your experience while seasoning just as much when it is fully developed.
Beside these effects he also produces some of the most stunning teapots in appearance. The precision he puts into every detail of every piece is incredible and he also goes out to source his clays, mixes and matures them for years for the best cup of tea possible all himself.