Posted 4 months ago
This Japanese sakura (cherry blossom) themed cast iron kyusu (teapot) by Terumata of Iwate Prefecture and has a body that is about 5" in diameter x 3.5" high, minus lid and spout. It weighs 2 lbs and 14 ounces, a lot for a small kyusu, and has the maker's mark under the spout. It came with an unmarked nabeshiki (trivet), an infuser and a very interesting handle. It has a Kotobuki label, so I know it is not junk. Kotobuki appears to have sold/sells only quality Japanese cast iron since it was founded in 1963, so this is definitely not an antique kyusu, if sold by them. Some of their early offerings may just qualify as "vintage".
According to Kotobuiki, they sold this kyusu around the year 2000 and it was made by Teramuta in Iwate Prefecture. I was unable to find out anything about Teramuta. This kyusu may have been from Kotobuki's Artisan collection since it is not Iwachu but I don't know what brands and marketing Kotobuki had in place in 2000.
The finish of this kyusu was purposely applied as a rust colored wash by the maker to simulate an antique kyusu. Using a dry cotton swab, I was able to determine that the external finish is rusted which probably occurred during storage. I am undecided whether to do something to arrest this rusting or just leave it as it is. My contact at Kotobuki favors leaving it alone. Any thoughts on this? The urushi (lacquer) lining in the pot appears to be in perfect condition, though water stained. The lining of the lid, however, appeared to be in less than perfect condition as does the rim of the pot. My contact at Kotubuki speculated that the rim may have rusted because the pot was stored in a humid environment with the lid on for a long period of time. This may also have affected the condition of the lid and possibly added some real rust to the exterior finish. Both cleaned up well with a little polishing with stiff nylon bristle brush, followed by brushing with cotton swabs moistened with rubbing alcohol and a final wipe with a dry paper towel. The sakura decoration of the pot is polished against a rusted and pitted appearing background. I am not sure how that was accomplished. There is no rust on the handle. The Kotobuki label is not perfect, but is in pretty good shape. The sakura theme is iconic and an old design for Japanese kyusu.
During my research, before Kotobuki replied to my email, I found two identical, though differently finished, kyusu on ebay Japan that the seller identified as being the work of Japanese maker Fujita. Both had the same mark as my kyusu, but one had a red finish and the other a blue finish. Both also have "MADE IN JAPAN" molded on the bottom. The rims are urushi lined, not rusted. I sent the seller an email asking them how they arrived at their identification of the maker but they could not tell me. I am now wondering if Terumata might be an exporter and Fujita the foundry that made this pot.
This one was dropped right in my lap from an email for a saved search on an online auction site and a "Buy it Now" option at a very good price. It was a good research opportunity presented to me when I got up in the middle of the night to answer Nature's Call and then got right back in bed and went back to sleep, leaving me to ponder what I had done the next morning in the cold light of day. I am an email addict and have tablets scattered all over my house so check various email accounts frequently.