Tale of Genji
ASAGAO (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.

ASAGAO means morning glory in Japanese, but in this story, ASAGAO is the name of a woman whom Hikaru Genji loved and proposed to. ASAGAO morning glory usually blooms in summer, but the story of ASAGAO takes place in winter, creating the unique contrast between the seasonal word for summer and the winter scenery.

The painting on this Matcha bowl is about the conversation between Hikaru Genji and Murasaki no Ue after Princess ASAGAO declined his confession. They sat in the room with a fine view of the garden, and he told stories from his past in order to comfort her. Snow lightly falls outside the palace, and small hills in the garden are capped with snow. Large snowballs made by children are placed outside the garden. A traditional Japanese brazier, colored in purple, is placed inside the palace, signifying the cold atmosphere.

Not only the contrast between the warmth indoors and the cold garden outside, but also the contrasting shapes within the design, create the beauty of this composition. In the garden, the round shape of the snow balls are placed near the oval shape of the pond. The small and round shapes of the snow lightly falling, the gentle shape of the small hills covered with snow, and the rounded shapes in the garden create a gentle and warm atmosphere. In contrast, the palace is constructed with a square, angular form. The wooden handrail, corridor and wall are decorated with straight lines, emphasizing the solid image. This solid atmosphere contrasts well with the soft impression of the garden.

One of the focal points of this Matcha bowl is the traditional technique known as GOHONDE, orange flecks inside and outside the bowl. Its color blends into the earthenware texture. This technique also adds the warm accent to the snowy view of this bowl, as if the heat from the traditional Japanese brazier warms the snowy atmosphere.

Plum branches capped with snow decorate the inside of the bowl. Even though each branch is painted in black and no leaf is decorated in order to express the harsh winter season, the contrast of white snow adds to the warm atmosphere. In addition, the golden color around the branches adds a noble accent, not only to the branches but also to the Matcha bowl itself.

This Matcha bowl not only offers a glimpse into the life of the palace in winter but also tells us of the beauty of the composition, especially the use of contrasting shapes. We are certain that this design will enhance the taste of Matcha.

Price:US$318.00

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Overview of ASAGAO

ASAGAO is the 20th of 54 stories in the Tale of Genji.

ASAGAO means morning glory in Japanese, but in this story, ASAGAO is the name of a princess whom Hikaru Genji loved. He sent a letter and had a chance to visit her house, but he could only talk to her through a blind, with her assistant present. Whenever he sent a letter to her, she replied, so he felt quite endeared with her, especially because of her dedication. On a snowy day in winter, he had a chance to meet her at her house. He made a marriage proposal to her. She also had an affection for him, but indirectly declined his proposal in a way that would not cause him embarrassment. She did not want to experience the loss of his affection, like so many other women.

When Hikaru Genji came back to his imperial house, Murasaki no Ue, who was a wife of Hikaru Genji felt depressed, because she knew where he went and what he had done, and she was afraid that Princess ASAGAO would become the main wife. Hikaru Genji appeased her, and convinced her that she did not need to worry about it. He also told her stories of his past love affairs.

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.

Title: THE TALE OF GENJI
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.

Directions

- 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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