Raku-yaki Matcha Bowl – Kenko


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Potter: Shoraku Sasaki III
Raku-yaki & Aka-raku
Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

approximately 3.5″ tall
approximately 4.5″ wide


Age: Vintage, made in the early 2000’s


Packaged in a wooden box .


Shop for Japanese Matcha



Potters fashion Matcha bowls from various clay in all of the famous pottery making areas of Japan. They are traditionally hand-built from local clay that has been fired in wood, electric or gas-fired kilns that do not reach a high internal temperature. As such, Matcha bowls are softer in density and clay structure than porcelain tea wares, which are fired at a very high temperature and whose glaze has bonded with the clay to create a hard, durable piece.


Matcha bowls are made for whisking and drinking powdered green tea and are durable for this use, but are not meant for drinking hotter-temperature types of tea such as black tea. Nor are they meant to be used as a teapot substitute for steeping loose-leaf tea. They are also not meant to be used as a cereal, fruit, or ice cream bowl, even though they are beautiful as that – because they will chip readily from contact with the spoon necessary to eat those foods.


In Japan and Korea much attention is paid to the unique characteristics of handmade pottery, and this includes all of the variables that make a handmade piece unique. A drippy glaze, a slightly lopsided lip, a finger mark in the glaze, etc, are examples of character that show the ‘hand’ of the maker.


Matcha bowls can develop glaze cracks on the inside and outside surfaces of the bowl, depending on the type of clay and the type of glaze the bowl has been given. Cracks that appear only in the glaze with use (as opposed to cracks in the actual clay body) do not leak or weaken the vessel. Glaze cracks  are held in high regard by tea drinkers, tea wares collectors and potters. It is the ‘voice of the clay’ speaking, and is viewed as the piece contributing some ‘self-patterning’ to the surface appearance. No two pieces of pottery will ever be exactly the same when the glaze develops a unique pattern of distinguishing glaze cracks from use.


Owning a Matcha bowl requires thoughtful handling and careful use.


Matcha bowls are not intended for use in a microwave or dishwasher. These tea bowls are meant to be simply rinsed and air-dried on a kitchen towel on the counter-top after use. Using Matcha bowls for tea other than powdered green tea can result in introducing water to the bowl that is too hot – this will encourage too much glaze cracking to develop.


Please be aware that some foot-rings on Matcha bowls are intentionally not glazed and that un-glazed clay can be rough. While foot-rings such as these are considered desirable, one should take care to protect wooden table surfaces, counter-tops, and stainless-steel surfaces from being scratched.


Matcha bowls are traditionally placed on a ‘coaster’ both during use and while in storage. This coaster can be made from fabric, wood, bamboo, or any appropriate material.

Authentic Raku ware is soft to the touch and warm in feeling. This is because it has been fired in a low temperature kiln and has been given several coats of thick glaze, making Raku very different from porcelain or earthenware matcha bowls.
Raku ware will absorb a small amount of water and also absorb and retain a small amount of water within the clay after use.


Upon first use of a new Raku tea bowl, it is recommended that you soak your Raku tea bowl in tepid water for 4-5 minutes to let the clay absorb a little water and become ‘accustomed’ to being used. It is also a good idea to soak a Raku bowl that is used every day for 1 minute in tepid water before each use. Usage in between those frequencies should be refreshed appropriately.


Please allow your Raku bowl to completely air-dry for a day or so after each use. If you are storing your bowl for long term in a box please allow the bowl to air dry for 5 days in a safe place before storing.


Hand-made Japanese pottery utilizes traditional crafting skills and techniques. These pieces are not intended for use in the dishwasher or microwave, both of which will damage the tea bowl.


Do not use dish soap or other types of cleaner on your Raku bowl.


Raku pottery was the happy collaboration between the Japanese Tea Master Sen Rikyu (1522-1591) and the Korean potter Chojiro (1516-1592). Chōjirō produced bowls at Sen Rikyu’s request that were made of soft pottery and featured un-embellished, rustic black or dark red /black glazes.


These new bowls reflected Sen Rikyu’s wabi ideals of a tea bowl that is humble, simple and without decoration. This tea bowl aesthetic is just one of Sen Rikyu’s major contributions to the future direction of the practice of Chanoyu, the Japanese Tea Ceremony, and the design/ practicality of the tea utensils used in Chanoyu.

This stunning Aka-yaki (red) Raku tea bowl is a replica of one of the original tea bowls commissioned by Rikyu, Japan’s most influential 16thC Tea Master for his use and that of his illustrious noble and wealthy students.

According to the history of tea development in Japan, Raku tea bowls were the collaboration between Tea Master Sen Rikyu (1522-1591) and the Korean potter Chojiro (1516-1592) who was working in Japan.  Chōjirō produced bowls for Chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony at Sen Rikyu’s request. These tea bowls were made of soft pottery and featured un-embellished, black or dark red /black glazes. For his contributions, Chôjirô was given the family name Raku.

Chôjirô’s offspring continued the Raku family lineage, each becoming an influential potter, making a contribution to the stylistic development of chawan over time. Very few of these early tea bowls still exist, but some that do can be seen in museums in Japan, Europe and the USA. All Raku family tea bowls are named and have traceable histories. These tea bowls are priceless, and are considered Cultural Assets or National Treasures in Japan.

The Raku Museum in Kyoto, Japan, privately owned by the Raku family, treats visitors to a stunning display of historic tea bowls made by successive members of the Raku family, beginning with the first Raku, Chôjirô. We highly recommend this out-of-the-way museum as a definite ‘must-see’ for any tea enthusiast who visits Kyoto once the pandemic has waned.

This bowl is a classic Aka-raku (red color) Matcha bowl. Its generosity of size and understated elegance is stylish yet restrained. Despite its size, the weight of the bowl is light and soft in the hand. Random color patches of grey float on the front of the bowl like clouds shaped by a gentle breeze. The combination of colors is restful, pretty and non-cluttered. This bowl will set a happy tone when drinking Matcha outdoors on a cool summer’s evening.

Mr. Shoraku Sasaki 3rd is a famous Raku-yaki potter who lives in Kyoto, Japan. His seal is impressed in the underside of the tea bowl.

This is a handmade item – slight variations in the painting, colors, tooling, patterning and kiln effects of Chinese and Japanese tea wares are to be expected. We have carefully photographed this item as best as possible – please be aware that different device screens can render colors and subtle tones slightly differently.

Technical Note:
Historically, the term ‘Raku‘ is used for chawan and other reference to persons and objects directly associated with the original Raku family, and ‘raku’ is the term used for all other references to interested persons and similar teawares ‘in the style of‘. We have capitalized the leading ‘R’ in the term ‘raku’ here, in all instances, simply for ease of reading the text, but the chawan that we offer are replicas by highly-regarded potters and should not be thought of as being original to the family.