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Japanese Life & Culture

National Treasure-Class "Yohen Tenmoku" Found in TV Show

By December 22, 2016 at 12:17 am
Tenmoku Chawan
Tenmoku Chawan(Photo : TV Tokyo Official website)

Tea-cups come in all sizes and designs - some quite ordinary everyday cups while other rare ones in the class of national treasures.

A TV show "Quick-Luck : Ask Connoisseurs" hunted out December 20 a piece of tea-cup presumably of national treasure-class quality named "Yohen Tenmoku Chawan" -  only three of the kind are known existing in the world, all designated national treasures.

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According to TV Tokyo, a male ramen noodle-house owner in Tokushima brought the tea-cup for authentication. His great-grandfather, a carpenter, brought it together with other items when he was commissioned to build the residence of a descendant of the eminent warlord Chokei Miyoshi.

One of the members of connoisseurs, Seinosuke Nakajima,  judged the tea-cup a genuine "Hohen Tenmoku" worth 25 million yen.

Hohen Tenmoku is a product in the Southern Song period in China. The currently existing Hohen Tenmokus belong to Daitokuji Temple Ryuko In in Kyoto, Fujita Museum in Osaka and Seikado Bunko Art Museum in Tokyo. 

Hohen Tenmoku features silver spots on the jet black glaze surrounded by lusters all around as if stars sparkling in space.

An episode might enchant pottery fans. The Yohen Tenmoku housed in Tokyo's Seikado Bunko Art Museum is nicknamed Inaba tenmoku after the family name, Inaba, when a Yohen Tenmoku was given as a gift from the 3rd in the Tokugawa Shogunate, Iyemitsu, to his nurse, Hasuga Tsubone. She passed it on to her relative Inaba.

This Yohen Tenmoku is known to be the highest of the three in quality. Later in 1934, Koyata Iwasaki, the leader of the Mitsubishi zaibatsu, but never dared to "make humble use of a heavenly pottery". The cup is 6.8 cm high, 12.0 cm in diameter and base diameter 3.8 cm.

Incidentally, I've visited the museum twice - once on one other occasion and the second time just to take a direct glance at this tea-cup. It was worth a trip and an hour spent to appreciate it. (Nathan Shiga)

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