Posted 3 months ago
This Oitomi cast iron kyusu is about 6.25" long x 6" high, including spout and handle, and 5.5" in diameter and 2.5" high minus lid and spout. It weighs 2.23 pounds. The molding is very fine and the design begs to be handled, very lush. It has a solid, hot worked twisted handle (classy!) and is marked by the maker in Japanese. No infuser, though. :( I recently bought a second, identical, kyusu, except for the color, which retains its infuser and will display one and use the other. Both were a bargain price and too good to pass up. These kyusu are not uncommon but usually are not cheap.
This one came with a Reiwa era Iwachu concentric circle trivet (nabeshiki) which is much newer than, and likely had no previous association with, this teapot, which I think dates to after 2000. Kind of a no brainer purchase as the seller was taking offers (and accepted mine) and the price was already at what the trivet alone sells for. The trivet does have a very muddy maker's mark, though. I think these kyusu are still being made. Oitomi and other Japanese foundries are making similar designs, sometimes hard to tell apart.
I am still working on the chronology of these teapots. This one does have a spot of rust behind one handle mount which mostly cleaned up pretty easily using a stiff nylon brush. I will finish treating it with a concentrated tea solution once its sister teapot arrives and I can borrow its infuser. The green color comes off pretty easily so may not be the work of Oitomi. I also found a third teapot by this same maker with a different design theme (gourds) for about what I paid for this one and its sister. It appears to be the same size and retains its infuser. It also has a twisted handle and is finely molded. I found both designs of these teapots selling directly from Japan from two sellers, one selling them for about $220-$280 and the other selling this one for $648 (!!!!), I paid 1/20th of the latter price for this kyusu. I will post the second design pot when it arrives. Sorry to be crass and talk about what I paid for these but I am a cheapskate and just love getting a good deal!
I have been looking for a last few Japanese teapots to add to my pile and these two pots are just what I had in mind. I paid off all of bills for last month early and started my February stuff buying budget and this popped up right after the Iwachu cherry blossom kyusu I posted recently.
This kyusu was distributed by Chen & Co. but there is not very much information about the Japanese cast iron kyusu offered by them as part of a "Collector's Edition". The second pot has no label. I have done quite a bit of investigating and I believe that at least the early teapots in the collection were made by Oigen, hand cast and hand finished in the traditional manner and most of the ones I have seen were very finely made pieces of art. They were very expensive when sold new. The other twisted handle kyusu (gourd design) I mentioned was distributed by Kotobuki, but also made by Oitomi. This dragonfly pot is the first Oitomi marked piece from Chen & Co. that I have seen.
Unfortunately, at some point, instead of the maker's mark in Japanese, later Chen & Co. teapots had a molded Chen mark though the quality seems to have remained the same, for the most part. I am not, however, impressed by the design/quality of some of the pots marked in that fashion, especially some of the Japanese animal year pots. I mistakenly purchased a Chen marked pot because it looked (and proved to be) very fine in the seller's images and though it is a very finely made teapot, I much prefer the Japanese marked teapots because I have a chance at identifying the maker. The seller was a poor communicator and it was a pretty inexpensive pot so I took a shot. No regrets on that one. It is very nice.
My impression is that Chen kyusu are still being collected. My research indicates they have stopped distributing their Collector's Edition line and dramatically reduced their kyusu offerings. I have not been able to determine when that took place. I have also not been able to determine which Japanese foundry, or foundries, made all of these Chen kyusu, but many were made by Oigen and some by Oitomi.
I have tentatively planned a single gang post of the half dozen Chen Oigen teapots in my collection for the future, but may give some of them their own post as they are very pretty.