Kawabata Kinsa V (1915-1999)

Large Tea Caddy with River Scene

Inv. Nr. #18.018
Date Shōwa period
Material Wood, lacquer, gold and silver
Dimensions H 7,5  x D 7,4 cm

Comes with fitted signed and sealed wooden box, sealed silk cloth and extra storage box for protection.

Price: EUR 8,000

Fantastic maki-e tea caddy with a river scene depicting reeds and traditional stone baskets (jakago) in takamaki-e on a polished black lacquer ground with fading nashiji decoration (togidashi-e). The skillful use of gold applications and masterful composition make this large tea caddy (ō-natsume) not only a visually complex but also a haptically appealing object. Much attention is paid to the reproduction of the traditional rock baskets used in ancient Japan to manipulate riverbeds. Here, the golden baskets are fixed between brown takamaki-e logs with rough bark and filled with flakes of cut gold leaves. Curling golden lines between them suggest the winding waters of the stream. The inside is coated with silver powder. Rims in gold lacquer. The tea caddy is signed in gold on the bottom: Kinsa-zukuri ('Made by Kinsa').


Kawabata Kinsa V was born as Miyoshi in 1915 in Nara Prefecture and learned lacquer ware at the age of 12 from the fourth Kinsa (Kawabata Taisaburō, 1891-1975), who adopted him in 1941. Miyoshi became the heir of the over 200-years old family tradition in 1963. His works were regularly exhibited at the National Exhibition (Nitten). IN 1981 he was honored by the Governor of Ōsaka Prefecture for his merits.


The Kinsa family is one of the most influential one in lacquer ware, which is reflected in a popular Japanese saying that emphasizes their importance: "Kinsa in the East, Sōtetsu in the West" (Higashi no Kinsa, nishi no Sōtetsu 東の近左、西の宗哲). These words are referring to two of the most influential lacquer traditions in Japan: the Kinsa family, which came originally from eastern Shiga prefecture, and the Sōtetsu family, which is from the ancient capital Kyōto in the west.


The storage box bears Kinsa's original handwriting: Ashi jakago maki-e ō-natsume, uchi gindame ('Large tea caddy with gold lacquered reeds and stone baskets, silver coated inside'). The box is signed: Kinsa and sealed: Kawabata.


For reference works see for example Alistair Seton: Collecting Japanese Antiques (2004), p. 260.