Utensils for the Enjoyment of Tea

Ryumonji-yaki Ceramics

One of the things to enjoy about tea is the utensils. There are many utensils, and they come in a wide variety of colors and forms.
The basic idea of wab_sab_ is to create tea utensils that “leave a space for you to play a role”
Ryumonji-yaki, or Ryumonji ware, is a ceramic tradition rooted in nature, with a profound story underpinning its basic design.

The origin

Kajiki-cho, Aira City, Kagoshima Prefecture

Kagoshima sits at the southern end of Kyushu, at the westernmost tip of Japan. This is the place where the first Christian missionaries landed in Japan in 1549. Nestled in the mountains overlooking Sakurajima - an active volcano - is a small community of about 15 homes that has been continuing the tradition of Ryumonji ceramics since 1688.

The Ceramicist

Shiro Kawahara (Union of Ryumonji Ware Ceramicists)

Ryumonji ware has a history of over 330 years. Shiro Kawahara grew up watching his father, who was also a potter, and at the age of 21, after three years of training at a pottery in Ise City, Mie Prefecture, he began making Ryumonji ware in 1975. Kawahara was certified as a traditional artisan in 2006, and in 2016, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare selected him as a Contemporary Master Craftsman, a title given only to those with the highest level of skills in Japan.


Superior techniques from Asia as the foundation of the craft.

In the latter half of the 16th century, at the end of a period of upheaval that lasted for more than 100 years, a feudal government continued to rule over Japan. Expeditions to the Korean Peninsula brought back some of the best ceramic techniques of the time, especially to the island of Kyushu, which is closest part of Japan to Korea.

Making Ceramic Utensils

 Nothing is mechanized. So no two things are exactly the same.

The studio and shop is run by six people. Everything is done by hand, the same as it was 330 years ago, from preparing the clay, making the glazes that bring out the color patterns and luster in the firing, forming on the potter's wheel, and firing in the kiln. That's why every finished item is unique and different to the next.

Deep Ties with the Community

The hearth warms the body and creates ash.

There is a hearth in the workshop, and a fire is kept burning during the cold season. The large logs are a gift from a nearby thicket. They are dried over a period of two years to make them easier to burn. After burning, the ashes are collected and burned on top of the clay to create a glassy layer of glaze.

Utensils for Tea

Making kyusu teapots out of clay that is not suited to kyusu.

Due to the nature of its clay, Ryumonji ware is not suited to large vessels. Conversely, it is suited towards small vessels for daily use. However, the clay's tendency to shrink to three quarters of its original size when fired generally made it unsuitable for use in kyusu teapot manufacture. When Kawahara trained for three years at a Shigaraki ware studio in Mie Prefecture, he realized that what could be done with Shigaraki clay, which shrinks very little when fired, would be difficult to reproduce with Ryumonji ware.

View Products

Dobin Set (Teapot and Two Teacups) | Handmade by the Master Craftsman

Kyusu Set (Teapot and Two Teacups) | Handmade by the Master Craftsman

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