Posted 3 months ago
This Iwachu kyusu (teapot) measures 7.5" long x 5.5" high, with handle and spout, and 6" x 2.5" without. The exterior depicts two dragonflies and is red/brown with gold accents. It holds 16 ounces of water. It is urushi lined with a maker's mark and "MADE IN JAPAN" on the bottom. It has what I am calling the "Reiwa" mark for the era of Emperor Naruhito who began his reign on 1 May 2019. I THINK that this is how Iwachu is marking their teapots, etc., basing their marks on the reign of the Japanese emperors. Just a guess, on my part, but I will ride this horse until it bucks me off. I hope I don't get trampled.
I have looked at a few dozen of these teapots and find only two marks. First is this one, with three sets of characters in a box and "Made in Japan" in a box on the same side, under the spout. The other version has the bottom two sets of characters in a box under the spout and "Made in Japan" in a box on the opposite side of the bottom. My assumption is that one mark is Heisei (1989-2019) and the other is Reiwa (2019-). I have found none at all with the Showa mark (1926-1989). Teavana sold these same Iwachu marked teapots and did not re-brand them.
This is one of my early January purchases which has been lost in the mail. I had zero intention of buying another teapot in January because I had already bought two, and definitely not another Iwachu, but this one came with what I call the "second most common Iwachu trivet" which I didn't have yet. The cost of the teapot and trivet was much less than what the trivet alone often sells for, and shipping was free, so I really bought this for the trivet that came with it and the teapot is a bonus. I will give it a test ride, however, and update my post when I do so.
I am not that enthused with teapots like this with a colored finish as I don't think anything can be done to freshen them up if they get scuffed or rusty, unlike the traditional finish. Note that this teapot has a lot of scuffing to the bottom from the trivet it came with. The trivet has gold and red on it from the teapot.
I have no doubt that these were bought as a set from the Kotubuki Trading Company as the trivet still has the Kotobuki label and a new Iwachu mark that I have never seen before. I think this set is less than two years old. The teapot had what looked like flaws to the urushi lining and the seller mentioned that in her description, but when I got it, I found that what looked like holes in the lining washed off with a wet paper towel revealing a perfect finish. I have no clue why sellers don't take a few minutes to clean up the stuff they sell. I have had this experience many times. The teapot and trivet are still available from Kotobuki for $85 and $25, respectively, not including shipping, and I paid well less than a third of that for a nearly new set, so I can live with the potential finish issues. With a little patience, it is possible to find and buy a really nice used Iwachu teapot from various on line auction sites at a very affordable price. Many are modern, mass produced, green sand cast teapots but do the job effectively and with style, though I do still occasionally find good deals on traditionally made kyusu.
I did later buy another Iwachu teapot, after being unable to find anything else like it after an extensive search. It is a real oddball and also has the new Reiwa mark so may be a new line or an experimental piece.
I think a new CW category for Japanese cast iron teapots may be needed, or perhaps a "Japanese Metal Ware" category as there are many non-teapot metal items associated with tea services! My newer ones don't fit in the Japanese Antiques category.