Asahi-yaki in Uji & the heritage of Nagatani Sôen in Ujitawara

As the new season approaches, I had the pleasure last week to go to and Ujitawara Uji, near Kyoto.

Here in Uji, the Asahi-yaki workshop. Along the river Ujigawa on the shore opposite to that of Byôdô-in. 10min walk from JR station and 5 minutes from the Keihan train station.

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a sencha tea set by Hosai. This red ''copper" glaze technique is very difficult.

a sencha tea set by Hosai. This red ”copper” glaze technique is very difficult.

Usually, this part of the workshop is not open to public.

Usually, this part of the workshop is not open to public.

The excellent hôhin, samashi and cups by Asahi-yaki are available on Thés du Japon.

Ujitawara is reputed to be the place where Nagatani Sôen developed the method for hand rolling and drying steamed sencha in 1738. (It is an isolated area, difficult to access without a car.)

This is where he and his descendants would have lived, but the house (which is open to the public only on weekends) is no longer the original. It was built to protect the remains of the hoiro that Nagatani Sôen would have used. (A hoiro is a paper-covered surface that is heated from underneath and used for rolling and drying tea leaves during the temomi process.)

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A modern made hoiro. Note the small piece of wood, typical Uji / Kyoto temomi (hand rolling) method, which is used for the final kneading stage. In Shizuoka and elsewhere one did not use it, using the palm of a hand only.

A modern made hoiro. Note the small piece of wood, typical Uji / Kyoto temomi (hand rolling) method, which is used for the final kneading stage. In Shizuoka and elsewhere one did not use it, using the palm of a hand only.

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Remains of Sôen's hoiro

Remains of Sôen’s hoiro

Next door is a small shrine erected to the glory of Sôen, passed to deity status for farmer and tea merchants. We see engraved on marble blocks the important contributor’s name: big wholesalers or tea shops chain company.
Offering of few coins, clap in hands, bow, and 2015 should be a great year for Thés du Japon thanks to Sôen’s soul !

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Categories: Coverage, miscellaneous, Tea ware and works by artisans

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2 replies

  1. Merci Florent for another interesting article on Uji ken campbell

  2. Such beautiful pictures. I downloaded some to use on my windows wallpaper.

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