On a recent visit to the Smithsonian Institution, one of my favorite areas of Washington DC, I bought this souvenir mug at the American History Museum because my daughter is living in Japan teaching English at a private school. In 1912, the people of Japan gave 3000 cherry blossom trees to the city of Washington DC as an expression of friendship. Every year the city celebrates a cherry blossom festival.
I decided to add a Cherry Blossoms Kup Kap to the online store. Who doesn’t think cherry blossoms are beautiful?
I toured the Freer Gallery, the Smithsonian’s first art museum opened in 1923. The founder, Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919) was a Chicago business man who made frequent trips to several countries in the Far East. He loved the art. He began purchasing and bringing back pieces to the United States for his private collection which now fills the Freer Gallery.
I loved the art exhibit called Seasons which showed the importance of seasons in Japanese art. Artists changed their creations throughout the year according to the season. For example, a pottery artist changed clays each season. Tea utensils were made in rough stoneware that conveyed warmth for winters while porcelain is cool to the touch for summers. During Spring a painter would create pictures of foliage that grew in that season then change to plants that grew in the Autumn later in the year.
This tea caddy in the Spring and Summer collection is for storing tea. The artist is Kashu Mimpei (1796-1871) from Awaji Island in Japan. It’s made of porcelain with iron décor under a cobart-tinted glaze which gives it the unique blue tone.
The tea bowl is Koto ware from Hikone, Japan made in the mid-19th century of porcelain with white slip and cobalt pigment under a clear glaze. The design is a quick sketch of three blossoms and three leaves from the yuzuriha, a small evergreen tree which blooms in early summer.
Thank you, Mr. Freer, for founding this lovely museum as part of the Smithsonian Institute!