Posted 29 days ago
This Iwachu cast iron kyusu is 5.5" in diameter and 3" high minus spout, lid and handle. It weighs 3 lbs 4 ounces and holds 20 ounces of water. It has the Iwachu mark under the spout. It is probably 30-50 years old.
I've wanted an example of Japanese kyusu with a maple leaf theme for my collection and found this one comparatively inexpensive. I expected it to be a bit thrashed and was not disappointed. The seller said they bought it in 2004 from a craft show at Grand Central Station in New York City, just put it on a shelf as a decoration and never used it but I could tell it had been used before that from the seller's images. It was the cheapest one I could find, but I now think it might have been better to bide my time and wait for another one in better condition. It was at the upper limit of what I will pay for a kyusu.
On the positive side, it still has its original strainer though it is a bit mashed out of shape and I had to hammer a ding out of the rim. The urushi lining is also nearly mint inside the pot. Using a damp paper towel, I was able to get a fair amount of tea stain out of the interior. It does not have any major cosmetic damage. No one has ever made the mistake of using it to heat water or used a warmer to keep it warm.
On the negative side, the handle is badly sprung and there is no tension at all when it is mounted to the pot, so it just flops freely from side to side. It is so sprung that it is easy to remove it from the pot which gives me concerns about handling it when filled with boiling water. There is a bit of wear and scuffing around where the handle fits on the pot as it has apparently been off and on numerous times. There is a bit of rust and chipping to the urushi lining under the lid and to the rim of pot where the strainer rests. There are several spots where the green finish has been scraped or rubbed off and a few spots of rust all over the pot. No care was taken to protect the bottom of the pot and it shows significant wear where the finish has worn off. I would not call the general wear to the finish signs of honest use but due to neglect and carelessness.
I've mentioned that I am not a fan of non-traditional finishes likes this and a fair amount of it rubbed off when I was cleaning the pot up. I've spent a bit of time banging on the handle with a heavy rubber mallet to try to tighten it up, with no noticeable effect. I will experiment with with this one to see what can be done to correct rust issues on a pot like this. I may try to remove the green finish and use green tea deal with the rust. I could find no information about the care of pots like this so am left with experimentation.