CH Global Spin: Japanese Ceramics
CH Global Spin: Japanese Ceramics
Exploring the wonderful world of handmade delights in Tokyo
by Karen Day
In Japan, tea is a serious subject. As we learned by participating in Tom Sachs’ artistic take on the traditional tea ceremony at New York's Noguchi Museum this year, the concept of chanoyu dates back to the 9th century, adheres to a very strict set of rules and can go on for several hours, depending on whether you’re there for what’s referred to as thick or thin tea. The tools also play a major part; each kettle, cup, bowl and scoop are treated with the utmost respect and care. With that in mind, we wondered where might be the best places to pick up a tea set when in Tokyo. We asked Johnny Fogg, a photographer and the certified tea expert who guided us through Tom Sachs’ ceremony, and Reiko Kaneko, a renowned Japanese-British ceramicist, to name some of their favorite spots to shop for ceramics in the city.
Higashi Aoyama // 東青山
This unassuming shop is tucked away on the first floor of what seems like a Japanese strip mall, directly across from the stunning Nezu Museum in Tokyo’s Aoyama neighborhood. Higashi keeps a small inventory of earthenware teapots, porcelain chopstick rests and cast-iron ashtrays (smoking is a part of the tea ceremony ritual), as well as a rotating selection of small clay sculptures. 〒107-0062 Tokyo, Minato 南青山６丁目１−６
Toukyo // 桃居
Toukyo maintains a rustic, Japan-meets-Tuscany vibe through a simple collection of loosely glazed, familiar objects, all neatly displayed on rows of wooden shelves and tables. The store, which opened in 1987 in the Nishi-Azabu area, adheres to a straightforward philosophy of stocking ceramics that are handmade by passionate artisans—many of whom are still young and undiscovered, and interested in experimenting with the ancient craft. 〒106-0031 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Nishiazabu, 2 Chome−25 西麻布２丁目２５−１
Zakka // 土の記憶
Stepping into Zakka is like entering someone’s home. A delightful older woman sits working at a table, overseeing an eclectic assortment of ceramics, linens and glassware. There are items placed in drawers ready for discovery, a little kitchen stove in the corner for sampling and even a small zen garden for raking. To put it simply, Zakka is a just lovely little shop and whatever you pick up here will take a special place in your life. 〒150-0001 Tokyo, Shibuya, Jingumae, 5 Chome−42−9 グリーンリーブス # 102
Hakusan is a classic pottery shop in Japan that was originally founded in 1779, but made famous around the world in 1958 when designer Masahiro Mori created the G-type soy sauce dispenser. Extremely elegant in form and effortless in function, the iconic dispenser is now included in numerous design museums’ permanent collections. A stop by Hakusan is a must for this reason alone, but the family-run porcelain company also peddles a wide range of everyday items that are just as covetable. 〒106-0031 Tōkyō-to, 5-3-10 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku
Located within an upscale shopping mall in Ayoama called Tokyo Midtown (where you can find stores like Beams, Plain People, Pleats Please Issey Mayake, The Slowear Store), IDÉE SHOP is a modern mix of furniture, home goods, clothing and cafe. Ceramics by local potters sit next to Jasper Morrison cutlery and linen jackets from cult Japanese brand POOL. If you don’t grab a snack at the in-store cafe, make your way downstairs and take a spin through Precce Premium, which is what seems to be a Japanese version of Whole Foods. 2 Chome-16-29 Jiyugaoka, 目黒区 Tokyo 152-0035
Those familiar with The Future Perfect in the states or SCP in the UK will undoubtedly love Cibone. We spent time checking out ceramic plates and bowls from an international mix of studios like Echo Park Pottery, 1882, Toru Hatta and Jars Ceramistes, but spent a fair amount of time wandering around admiring everything in this expansive store. There’s furniture from Piet Hein Eek, Hay and Magis, leather goods from Hender Scheme, stationary from Postalco, and an enticing variety of coffee table books. 〒107-0061 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Minamiaoyama, 2 Chome−27
To celebrate their Round The World offering Star Alliance partnered with Marriott TRAVELER to offer Cool Hunting Editor-at-Large Karen Day her dream trip. She chose to explore locations she'd visit on a professional gap year, taking a break from the grind of NYC to explore places that inspire the creative spirit.
Hakusan Shop image courtesy of the brand, all others by Karen Day