The inhabitants of this place, moreover, take the issue of ceramics extremely seriously. So much so that the Tokoname-yaki, a particular type of containers, crockery and teapots, became in the mind of the whole country from the fourteenth century a sort of synonym of the very concept of molded land, in particular forms that could be considered useful to civil society , of the devotees of Zen theism, as of all the others, who had not yet known that world. Moreover, a certain degree of humility must always remain in the work of a great master, on pain of losing that very state of grace that allows him to be what he is. As can be seen, no doubt, in Hokujo's work shown.
The scene takes place inside his workshop, where the craftsman seems intent on showing the ancient craft to a little girl and to the tourist Petr Machek, the one who later, to our great benefit, chose to share the experience on the web. And it starts in a very simple way, with the creation of the typical container of clayey substances. As in the famous scene from the movie Ghost with Demi Moore (will we ever be able to remove it from collective memory?) The mound of moistened earth is rotated on the lathe typical of this tradition. Which is not, of course, of the pedal type, but much simpler from the design point of view: it is in fact simply a disc, in which the rotary motion is induced from the beginning, thanks to the repeated thrust of a simple stick. Relying on inertia, for all the rest of the work. Which must therefore be quick, precise: and from this point of view, man certainly does not disappoint. The shape rises, then stretches and widens, then acquires a countersink which must serve to support its lid. At this stage of his creation, of course, he still appears to us without a handle and a spout. Which will be promptly made following, by a subsequent extrusion of the same material, then arranged next to said bulbous container. Each piece, perfect in its proportions, separated from the rest in a single fluid movement, through the use of a thin cutting edge. It is fascinating to note how the same handle of the teapot, being also worked on a lathe, takes on the appearance of an interchangeable cylindrical shape, which as per the tradition of kyūsu (急 須 - teapots for green tea) can eventually be applied laterally (yokode k.) or laterally (ushirode k.) in the finished product. Someone went to great lengths to define such a curious implementation as the approximation of a trumpet. Personally, I would see more of the accelerator of a motorcycle.
It is a coincidence repeated several times in the history of Japanese arts and crafts that a system borrowed from the neighboring countries of Korea and China, brought to the East by trade and the testimonies of travelers, had become part of the national repertoire in strength of the good taste of the community. Yet, the country of syllabic alphabets and samurai was never like a mere cultural province, for the simple fact that each influence was studied, separated and modified, on the basis of extremely specific and felt needs. It is undeniable. That such a generic discourse is more appropriate than ever to describe the life experience of the monk Eisai, who went to a Buddhist religious center in the continental region of Jingde and had the opportunity to study his breath very thoroughly, his mind, the fundamental piece of land and the proverbial small stone. Thus becoming around 1191 AD, from a simple student who was, in his turn, a teacher, of what from that day would be nationalized with the term of Zen - "meditation". Strangely enough, unable to leave a mark in the customs of his country that could be said to be greater, on balance, than the impact had by the contents of his purse: some leaves of a humble plant, whose leaves heated over the fire together with water they had the gift of releasing an infusion with a flavor, if not extremely good at the first sip, at least ... Interesting. Stratified and impregnated with the very substance of that world upon which Illumination was to be sought, through an irremediably imperfect sensorial knowledge. And that plant was the 茶. Pardon! That plant was o-cha (Japan). Indeed to be clearer: I meant chuan (Han dynasty) No, come on. It was the ming (Mandarin Chinese). That is, tea. Yes, just the: as they said to Xiaomen, the city from which several years later, this superfine substance would be embarked and transported to the West. From the grandparents of our great-great-grandparents, who instead of savoring it for what it was and meditating, put sugar in it. What a terrible missed opportunity to ...
But it would certainly be naive, and imbued with the presumption of moderns, to imagine the ancients dipping sachets or using the strainer, as technocratic anachronists in the sports bar. Indeed, it is a widely established fact, that the methodologies used for the preparation of such a drink were themselves considered as a ritual, which Eisai's followers acquired through the reading of his text Kissa yōjōki (喫茶 養生 記 - How to heal by drinking tea - 1214). Considered by the first abbots of the temples, for its sacred character, preferably above the rustic pottery owned by the Japanese of the time, still dating back to the national craftsmanship of the past Jōmon and Yayoi eras, nothing more than terra cotta in the vast underground ovens called anagama, sometimes decorated with the impression of a stretch of rope. Throughout the course of the Heian era and the early part of the Kamakura shogunate, then (1185-1333) some timid attempts were made to apply the lead-based tri-color glazing borrowed from neighboring peoples, although the preferred drinking vessels at the source of creation, by anyone who could afford it, were always rigorously imported from afar. Almost as if the people of the Middle Kingdom had a preferential channel to communicate with the Buddha, his exit, the fluidized wisdom of the substance used to approach him. Until it happened, around the 11th-12th century, that four gods most famous ovens in the country of Yamato did not spontaneously take, and each for a different process, to improve their techniques and the product that bore their brands: they were the "big six" of Shigaraki, Tamba, Bizen, Seto, Echizen and Tokoname. Precisely the scenario, the latter center, which rose to the role of city during the cadastral reforms of the Meiji Restoration (1889) of the work of the master - Genji Shimizu). Certified in 2013, during an important ceremony, as a living heritage of the nation and humanity. A goal, if we want, not really within anyone's reach.