Tale of Genji

KIRITSUBO (handcrafted Matcha Bowl)

This is limited edition only available in spring and summer season.

(Please note: Because this item is made-to-order, it takes approximately 3 weeks from the time you order this item until the date it is shipped from Kyoto, Japan. Once ordered, any order change or cancel can NOT be accepted. If you order this item with other items, they will be shipped together.)

The Tale of Genji is one of the oldest novels in the world. Written by noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu of the Japanese Imperial Court, this novel is composed of 54 stories and more than 800 WAKA Japanese poems.
The work recounts the life of Hikaru Genji, from his birth to death, and afterward. Through the book, Murasaki describes the life of aristocracy, romance in the Imperial Court, and political disputes. She expertly portrays the internal emotion and expression of each character of her novel.
We, Hibiki-an have collaborated with Zenshoh Yamaoka, who is the leading expert of paintings derived from masterpieces in the middle ages and acclaimed Kyo Yaki artisan, to release a series of Matcha bowls featuring the Tale of Genji. Zenshoh Yamaoka selected 12 stories out of 54, one suitable for each month of the year, arranged by season. ( Tale of Genji Matcha Bowls + Cups page)

Zenshoh Yamaoka expresses luxury and elegance in the palace, the secrets of human nature in each scene, and WABI-SABI aesthetic during this time, by making full use of various techniques. For example, in order to portray the gorgeous scenes of the Imperial Court, he uses luxurious gold to paint clouds, Japanese traditional cloth KIMONO, auspicious ornaments and so forth. This effect characterizes the affluent lifestyle of the Japanese Imperial Court during this period and makes the Matcha bowl brilliant. Clouds are one of the key features of the bowl. Clouds are frequently used in Japanese traditional painting to separate and define space and time. The use of golden clouds makes this Matcha bowl bright and luxurious.

KIRITSUBO is the title of the 1st of 54 stories in the Tale of Genji, and it is also the Emperor’s name, who is the father of Hikaru Genji. The painting on the Matcha bowl is about the birth of Hikaru Genji. He was born between the Emperor Kiritsubo and a woman who was not in the noble class. The noblewomen in the palace became extremely jealous and treated princess Kiritsubo poorly. Due to the constant stress from this unfortunate situation, she passed away when Hikaru Genji was only three years old.

The main feature of this Matcha bowl is the lady Kiritsubo and her son, Hikaru Genji. Zenshoh Yamaoka nobly describes the celebratory occasion of a new baby. KIMONO Japanese traditional cloth, which Kiritsubo wears, is colored in red and pink. The KIMONO design, which is a colorful floral pattern in red, is well reflected on the pink cloth. In contrast, the baby Hikaru Genji is wrapped in a white cloth. Red and white are traditionally well-loved colors, used for auspicious events in Japan. In addition, the hem of the KIMONO and its patterns are decorated in gold. The refined touch enhances its gracefulness. The graceful and subtle white texture called NINSEI-KIJI accentuates not only the beauty of the bowl but also expresses the love between the mother and her child. The more we gaze at this bowl, the more we are drawn in by its beauty.

Inside the bowl, the KIRI Paulownia tree is elegantly painted behind golden clouds. The leaves are colored in lush green, and its veins are decorated in gold. The Paulownia tree produces small flowers which are colored in sky blue. The cool colors of blue and green on the inside of the bowl contrast well with the warm colors of red and pink on the outside of the bowl. Moreover, the use of colors inside the bowl evoke the atmosphere of new life, full of potential, like the baby Hikaru Genji. Even the design of the tree inside the bowl seems to celebrate new life.

The brief yet radiant moment between a mother and her child is well expressed on this Matcha bowl. The design of the KIMONO fabric and the luxuriously decorated room depict the brilliant life of the Imperial Court of those days. The joyous moment portrayed on this bowl is absolutely enchanting, and will certainly enrich your enjoyment of Matcha.




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Overview of KIRITSUBO

KIRITSUBO is the 1st of 54 stories in the Tale of Genji.
The story starts at the palace in ancient Japan. The Emperor Kiritsubo deeply loved a woman who was not in the noble class. Since her father had already passed away and she had no financial support, she relied solely on the Emperor Kiritsubo. She received much favor of the Emperor, and had an imperial prince with him. His name was Hikaru Genji. The noblewomen in the palace were so jealous. Especially, Empress Kokiden was furious, because she also had a baby with the Emperor, and thought that her child could not become a prince. The acute jealousy in the palace caused Princess Kiritsubo to fall ill, and she passed away when Hikaru Genji was only three years old.

The Tale of Genji was translated into English by the scholar Arthur Waley and this version is highly regarded throughout the world. The original is very difficult even for Japanese to understand due to archaic language. If you would like to read more of the story, please refer to the below edition.

Translated by: Arthur Waley
Publishing company: TUTTLE PUBLISHING (R)

Zenshoh Yamaoka

Zenshoh Yamaoka was born in 1942. He worked under Zenjiroh Ueyama for 10 years, and then opened his own Zenshoh kiln in 1969.
His paintings derived from masterpieces in the middle ages are excellent. It is said his precise drawing techniques are in a class of their own. Indeed, he was officially designated as a traditional craftsman by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in 2002. His sophisticated, exquisite, elegant, and advanced drawing techniques receive high acclaim in the Kyo Yaki pottery industry.


- It is best to wash this item using only tepid water or mild chlorine-free dish washing detergent.
- If necessary, you may occasionally use a chlorine detergent.
- Do not sterilize by boiling, or in a dish washing machine.

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