Tale of Genji

HOTARU (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.

HOTARU means firefly in Japanese. HOTARU is also one of the stories in the Tale of Genji. In this story, Hyobukyonomiya, who is the Emperor’s first son, visited Tamakazura’s house. She was an adopted daughter of Hikaru Genji. During this period, it was not allowed for a man to look at a woman directly, but only through a screen, so they talked through this screen, even though they were in the same room. Hikaru Genji released several fireflies in the darkness to reveal her beauty in silhouette through the screen. Hyobukyonomiya was so fascinated by Tamakazura’s beauty, that he fell even more in love with her.

This Matcha bowl portrays the scene where Hikaru Genji released fireflies on this romantic night. They fly in all directions, and the lights that the fireflies produce are colored in yellow and gold. The autumn leaves and the flowers decorated in red and green in the garden are also well matched to the fireflies. The lights that the fireflies dimly produce illuminate the luxurious screen panel. The golden color of the flower patterns are decorated on the orange screen, evoking the graceful life in Imperial Court during that period.

Inside the bowl, KAKITSUBATA iris and letters are decorated with golden clouds. One of three letters is tied to the iris stem. In the story of HOTARU, Hyobukyonomiya sent a letter with an iris to Tamakazura as a romantic invitation. The dreamy scene portraying the romantic invitation from the Emperor’s first son is well expressed on this Matcha bowl.

The light orange line called GOHONDE, which is one of the traditional techniques, is decorated inside and outside the bowl. This technique adds warmth to the bowl and paintings. The GOHONDE technique creates a warm atmosphere representative of the warm, summer season.

The story of HOTARU is well expressed on this Matcha bowl, which features traditional symbols of romance, such as natural illumination from fireflies and love letters. Their sophisticated arrangement will deepen the taste of Matcha.




FREE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING on all orders of US$36.00 or more.

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Overview of HOTARU

HOTARU is the 25th of 54 stories in the Tale of Genji.
Tamakazura, who is a daughter of Yugao, and also an adopted daughter of Hikaru Genji was embarrassed, because Hyobukyonomiya, who is the Emperor’s first son sent a love letter for marriage many times. Even though Hikaru Genji understood that it is a forbidden love, he also fell in love with Tamakazura, thus he asked her to give a favorable answer to Hyobukyonomiya. She was reluctant to accept the marriage, but she sent a letter to him against her will. He was so happy to receive her letter that he came to see her at night. They had a conversation through a screen between them. Her refined behavior and the scent in the room made him feel that she was very beautiful and a noble person. While chatting, Hikaru Genji, who was hiding in the room, released HOTARU fireflies. The dark room was dimly illuminated by their lights, and Hyobukyonomiya could just slightly see her face and became even more fascinated by her beauty than before.

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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