Imai Kōjin (*1937)

Iga Tea Caddy "Green Mountain"

Inv. Nr. #17.013
Date 20th C.
Material Ash glazed stoneware
Dimensions H 10,1  x Diam. 6,3 cm


This extraordinary tea caddy (chaire) was made by Imai Kōjin who was born 1937 and has studied pottery between 1957-61 under Kawai Zuihō (1913-64) in Kyoto. His works were shown on many important exhibitions in Japan such as Art Exhibition Kyoto, Shiga Prefecture Exhibition, Nitten (Japanese National Exhibition) as well as exhibitions abroad under patronage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1973 Kōjin moved to Iga and devoted himself to explore and study Old-Iga ware, which gained with its carefree irregular style popularity for the production of tea ceremony utensils in medieval Japan. Much of his efforts and knowledge culminated into this excellent piece. On the dark clay, which turned brown through oxidation during firing, large areas are covered by a bluish green ash glazing on which single glaze drops are running downwards.


The current 12th head of the Matsuo-ryū tea ceremony branch, Myōgensai Sōten (or Matsuo Sōten, *1962), who is a Zen-priest at Daitoku-ji, Kyoto, has named this Chaire "Green Mountain" (Aoyama/Seizan 青山) and inscribed it in the inside of its wooden box. In tea ceremony circles only the most valued items get their own name.

Despite the fact that this Chaire really reminds one on a moutain, covered by lush greens, from which streams of blue rivers or waterfalls running downwards, the words "Green Mountain" are bearing a strong Zen Buddhist connotation. An aphorism recorded in the Jingde chuandeng lu from around 1004 that was probably made by Zen master Mazu Daoyi (709-788), wants to give an idea of our own inherent Buddha nature. He explains: It is like a "Green mountain, that is originally unmoved. White clouds are coming and going by themselves".