Searching all of Japan for handcrafted items that express its heart and soul, our proprietor, KASHIYUKA, presents things that bring a bit of luxury to everyday life. This was her encounter with Shussaigama earthenware in Izumo, Shimane prefecture; a refreshingly beautiful and life-affirming group of objects that imbue the modern lifestyle with Mingei inspiration.
“Will delight reach the lips?”
Coffee cups born of this idea are said to still be made. Upon thinking about this I headed to Shussaigama Studio in Izumo, Shimane prefecture. Five young men from the local area joined together in 1947 to found this studio on the idea of using local clay to fashion pottery for everyday use. They were deeply influenced from the first by Japan’s Mingei art movement and its seminal theorist Sōetsu Yanagi and potter Kanjirō Kawai.
“If there’s joy when it meets the lips, it’s easy to hold — in other words, if this ceramic vessel enhances your enjoyment of the coffee… That’s the value of such an implement. Back in the day we were taught that by the British ceramic artist Bernard Leach,” says Mr. Shin Tatano, Shussaigama’s director, as he shows me around. At this time, the studio has 13 artisans making things like coffee cups, Japanese-style tea cups, bowls, and so on. Each has their own wheel. Each crafter takes every piece from the beginning — kneading the clay, forming and lathing the shape, and glazing — to completion.