Tale of Genji
MIOTSUKUSHI (handcrafted Matcha Bowl)

This is limited edition only available in autumn and winter 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.

MIOTSUKUSHI generally means a navigation channel for a ship, but this word also has another meaning that someone devotes him or herself to another person. In this story, AKASHI NO KIMI, who met Hikaru Genji during his withdrawal from the palace, and had a baby with him, visited SUMIYOSHI shrine. Hikaru Genji already came back to the palace and also visited the same shrine. She happened to see him in the shrine, but since she saw his commanding presence with his servants, she felt inadequate, due to their class difference, and she left the shrine without meeting him. When Hikaru Genji found out about it later, he immediately sent a WAKA traditional poem to her, saying that he would like to devote himself to her.

On this Matcha bowl, the place where Hikaru Genji and AKASHI NO KIMI happened to meet at the shrine is decorated. A large, red shrine gate is placed on the center of the bowl. Lush green pine branches are gracefully arranged around the red gate, and its color contrast between red and green is well matched. Golden clouds and lines along with the red gate also add to the noble atmosphere of this bowl.

KANNYU cracking occurs due to the different levels of shrinkage between the earthenware and glaze. KANNYU cracking is emphasized when the red color is absorbed into the cracked lines. The pattern expresses as if the red gate has been standing for a long time. Each pattern of cracking is so different that each bowl has a unique pattern.

Inside the bowl, one boat which AKASHI NO KIMI took during her visit to the shrine is decorated. In contrast to the design on the outside of the bowl, the composition and the use of color inside the bowl are very simple. It seems that her sorrowful feeling toward Hikaru Genji is well expressed. Contrary to her wish, she became overwhelmed by the realization of the social class difference between them, and gave up her desire to meet him. The contrast between the rich elegance outside the bowl and the sorrow evoked by the simple composition and lonely scene are poignant and superb.

The design of this Matcha bowl not only expresses the gorgeous atmosphere in the ancient time but also describes the emotion of the characters in the story of Tale of Genji. When gazing at this bowl, you will be drawn into the story.



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MIOTSUKUSHI is the 14th of 54 stories in the Tale of Genji.

Because the Imperial Court was in collapse after Hikaru Genji's withdrawal, he was asked to come back to the palace. Hikaru Genji visited SUMIYOSHI shrine to give thanks. When he stayed in the shrine, a woman named AKASHI NO KIMI, who was deeply in love with him, happened to visit the shrine at the same time.However, since she saw his commanding presence with his servants, she felt inadequate, due to their class difference, and she left the shrine without meeting him. Once his servant told him about what had happened, he felt sorry and sent a poem to her.

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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