After my earlier article on Bizen-yaki pottery and my visit to Inbe, it seems natural to shine the spotlight on the artisan Nobuhara Katsushi and his works.
His raw materials are mixtures of mountain and “Iyose” clays extracted from around the Inbe rice paddies.
He works with a nobori-gama kiln. (For this reason, he makes little pottery using the “Hidasuki” 緋襷 technique, which is more suitable for a gas kiln.)
I am aware that the pictures speak for themselves, so I will not say too much in this article, except to note that absolutely no glaze is used on this pottery. Also, Mr. Nobuhara’s passion for his work and for Bizen and its history is huge. In the few hours we spent together, he showed me so many things, not only in his workshop, but also outside, where we visited the remains of ancient kilns that took me back in time, from the Heian period to today.
When I got home, I tested and photographed four of the seven works by Mr. Nobuhara that are available on Teas of Japan.
The grey dots are ashes that are deposited by chance, of course, during the firing. This produces a rough surface that almost resembles sandpaper.
I think that these objects have a very compelling aesthetic quality that cannot leave anyone indifferent; they have an almost overwhelming presence. I personally find them bewitching, but what the photographs cannot show is how they feel to the touch, the pleasure that comes from holding these works in the hand.
Now, let’s bring them to life with tea.
2013 Sencha from Mariko (Shizuoka, handpicked on April 1), Sugiyama Yaeho cultivar
Black tea from Sayama (fall harvest, handpicked, Musashi Kaori cultivar).
A formidable tea by Hiruma Yoshiaki. Its honey-sweet fragrance has increased tenfold after a few months of aging. The fine, discreet flavours of last fall are now much more assertive, and in particular the fragrance created by allowing little green insects to nibble the leaves is much stronger.