The Momoyama tea pottery, born around the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573-1603), has uniquely distorted shapes, and the muddy colours and astringent texture were preferred. This has splendidly coincided with the imperfections of “Wabi-Sabi” that Sen no Rikyu, who lived in the same era, was aiming for.
The Oribe style pottery by the tea master Furuta Oribe is especially famous among the Mino-Yaki ware, which is one of the Momoyama tea pottery. Shigaraki-Yaki ware, Bizen-Yaki ware, Iga-Yaki ware, etc. are the ones that have noticeable spatula patterns and distortion. In addition, Shino-Yaki ware, which has a characteristic white glaze, and Karatsu-Yaki ware, which has a unique pattern, are also known.
At that time, “Momoyama tea pottery” became popular, and it’s believed that Setomonoya-chou (the ware store neighbourhood) in Sanjo, Kyoto drove demand. The name “Momoyama tea pottery” was not confirmed in the Middle Ages when Momoyama tea pottery was born, and it was named in later research.
At the time, the sense of values was about to change from Chinese-born Karamono (Chinese artworks) to Japanese-style Wamono.
The Azuchi-Momoyama period was the next era of the Sengoku period (1467-1590), in which samurai warlords from all over the territories were divided into groups and were competing against each other. It was a time when Japan was about to change from a turbulent society to a settled society with established rule. In the age of provincial wars, the rulers of the time gave territories as rewards to their vassals for their achievements. However, territories that could be newly acquired were getting less and less as the unification of the whole of Japan approached.
When the upper limit of material value (territory) became apparent, the samurai warlords tried to find a way out by creating spiritual and cultural values. Then, it was Momoyama art that prospered. Among the samurai, the value of rare tea ware has increased.
In all ages, the economy and culture flourish when society becomes peaceful. During the Azuchi-Momoyama period, the Japanese unification approached, economic activities flourished throughout Japan, and wealthy merchants emerged to boost culture. Japanese style art has blossomed greatly, and the culture of this era is called “Momoyama culture” (Azuchi-Momoyama culture).
During the Azuchi-Momoyama period, it was when European culture was introduced by the Portuguese, and partially due to exchanges with Ryukyu and Korea, it’s thought that various cultures influenced the formation of Japan’s unique culture. It was before the long-running national seclusion.
While tolerant of Christianity, the authority of traditional Japanese religions has declined. The secularistic thoughts spread, and the transition period from the Middle Ages to the early modern period was arriving. It may have been like the renaissance if exemplified in European history.
“Momoyama culture” retained the elements of traditional dynasty culture and Higashiyama culture of the Muromachi period (1336-1573), while the townspeople culture that had gained momentum and the culture of samurai the rulers were combined. Around that time, Chanoyu became widespread not only for a part of samurai and major merchants but also for the townspeople.
It can be said that the chashitsu (tea room or tea house) of Souan, which pursued coarse aesthetics, is unique in the gorgeous “Momoyama culture.” In this way, “Momoyama culture” was formed while complex elements were entwining.
During the Azuchi-Momoyama period, Chasenmage (a tea whisk-like hairstyle) became also popular, but it ended with a short life of twenty-some years under the rule of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In the next Edo period (1603-1868), the peaceable time continued for 2 hundred and sixty-some years, and the common people’s culture reached its heyday. “Momoyama culture” was the cornerstone for the budding of Japan’s unique culture.
Chanoyu has sublimated from the attainment of a small part of the upper class into Sadou (the way of the tea ceremony) that embodies the thoughts, and has spread widely throughout society.
In today’s society, people in developing countries tend to be hungry for material affluence, while developed countries that are already materially filled tend to seek spiritual affluence. Although the times are different, we can find the common point in the transition from the sense of material values to the sense of spiritual values.
Author: Takuya Nagata.Amazon ProfileFollow @nagatackle
Novel writer, Creator. Graduated from UCA, the UK’s university. Discussed Japanese minimalism in the senior thesis. Founder of “MINIЯISM” (minirism), the art movement that contributes to the development of societies, such as ecology and lifestyle. Covered various fields as a writer in different parts of Europe, and later launched the knowledge hub “The Minimalist.”
Once travelled to Brazil and trained football at CFZ do Rio (Centro de Futebol Zico Sociedade Esportiva) in Rio de Janeiro. Played soccer for the Urawa Reds (Urawa Red Diamonds), one of the biggest football clubs in Japan, and toured Europe. Retired at a young age and voyaged alone to England. Established careers as journalist, football coach, consultant, etc. across Europe such as Spain. Knowledgeable in creative and technology fields as well. The founder of “Propulsive Football” (PROBALL), the world’s first-ever competitive mixed football, facilitating diversity and spirit for equal participation in society.