Linden Gallery/Mizuya show update

We just returned from Door County after a weekend showing of tableware and kimono from Mizuya at the Linden Gallery. We had a very full two days and wish we could have spent more time with gallery owners Brian and Jeanee, as well as their kids, Shane and Bryce. The gallery is located in the small town of Ellison Bay, almost at the tip of Door County, and makes its home in an modern building with a soaring arched ceiling. They told us the building was originally used as a church!

We showed tableware, including ceramics and lacquerware, but also brought along some vintage kimono, juban (kimono undergarments) haori and michiyuki (coats to go over kimono). It was our first foray out of the closet instead of the kitchen — you could say — and it was very successful.

So successful, in fact, that we’ve extended the show through the month of September and have committed to another show next summer. Details will be shared here and on Savory Japan.

Kirk did some beautiful, sparse ikebana in Bizen, Tamba and Shigaraki vases as well. I was surprised by the speed at which he created them, and everyone commented on how they added beauty to the displays.

It was a great chance to show how living with Japanese tableware can bring a measure of calm and beauty to everyday life.

We also presented a talk and demonstration on the releationship between Japanese food and tableware, using just the items from the show.

After a brief introduction on the basic principles of Japanese cuisine, we traveled through the seasons — starting with a spring arrangement of shrimp, takenoko (bamboo shoots) and wakame (seaweed). Next came a summer otsukuri (sashimi arrangement) on a cool-feeling blue & white Imari plate, followed by roasted mushrooms for fall, and a selection of winter appetizers on a Shino platter. The final dish was a  jubako (lacquer box) filled with osechi-ryori (New Year’s cuisine), which elicited a gasp when the lid was lifted. Finally, we shared the food and no one went home hungry.

To see more photos, friend us on Facebook (link to the right).

April: Hanami Bento and Kinmata’s Tableware

The April features for Savory Japan are now online. In honor of Cherry Blossom season, we show you how to create your own hanami (flower viewing) bento so you can celebrate spring under any flowering tree in your country. Some new recipes are included.

And, we profile Kinmata Ryokan’s fine tableware collection, once again illustrating the important relationship between food and tableware. This traditional Japanese inn in Kyoto has a long history and an excellent collection of ceramic and lacquer ware which is used to great effect.

There’s also a link to an article written during a prevuous stay, along with a slide show that shows Kinmata’s spring dishes and the marvelous table settings, complete with sakura blossoms, from that memorable dinner.

A selection of Kinmata Ryokan's fine tableware
A selection of Kinmata Ryokan's fine tableware

Update: Savory Japan’s Online Gallery

My husband Kirk and I are hard at work on Savory Japan’s online gallery. Since this is our first e-commerce site, there are many things to work out, including the name and logo, return policies, payment gateways, etc. But, I’m happy to report that we now have a small selection of fine antique and vintage tableware to share with you.

I wanted to show one of my favorite items, three (sold individually) Edo-era Kyo-yaki plates in the shape of sasa bamboo leaves. If you’ve ever been seated at the counter of one of Japan’s fine sushi establishments, you might have been served a few pieces of sushi on fresh green bamboo leaves. Using these plates, one would have a similar feeling of freshness. But what I like about these are the life-like modeling, variegated color and clay feet, which raise the plates elegantly above the plane of the table.

Kyo-yaki plates in the shape of sasa bamboo leaves
Kyo-yaki plates in the shape of sasa bamboo leaves

We will offer oribe, imari, mimpeiseto, raku, hagi and karatsu ceramic dishes, mostly in sets, and a few chawan for tea ceremonies. We’ll also carry a few elegant lacquer bowl sets. Purchasing the stock has been a joy, although honestly speaking, the strength of the yen has kept a few items out of reach. However, it won’t always be this way, and we’ll keep searching for items during our upcoming trips to Japan.

Our goal is to provide table settings for lovers of Japanese cuisine to showcase their creations in the best light. Tableware is so central to the enjoyment of Japan cuisine that I can’t stress it enough. If you’ve ever traveled to Japan, you know exactly what I mean. And what is nice about Japanese tableware is its versatility and visual impact: a few select pieces (especially small kozara) can be mixed with Western dishes to great effect.

If all goes well, we hope to have site up by March, which is only a few weeks away. See you then!