Museum Hours
Thu: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
200 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
In the Galleries

Japanese Tearoom

Tateuchi Japanese Galleries

Did you know that we frequently change the works on view in our collection galleries? This season in the Japanese tearoom, you'll find tea utensils in the shape of a wooden bucket, a bamboo stalk, and even a frog.

Chado (the Way of Tea), sometimes called tea ceremony, has been central to Japanese culture and art since the 16th century. The host generally arranges a selection of utensils for a gathering based on a particular theme or season. This season in our tearoom, you will find a lacquer tea caddy decorated with mother-of-pearl (approx. 2010) by Japanese artist Yamamura Shinya, a charming frog-shaped silver container from Vietnam (1900–1950), and two ceramic pieces that allude to traditional vessels made from other materials — a Chinese Ming dynasty porcelain vessel in the shape of a wooden bucket (approx. 1570–1644) and a Japanese ceramic vase in the shape of a bamboo stalk (1925–1950) by Kitaoji Rosanjin.

The blue-and-white vessel in the shape of a wooden bucket, serving as a freshwater container (mizusashi), was made in China for export to Japan. Kitaoji Rosanjin’s (1883–1959) ceramic vase in the shape of a green bamboo stalk — a symbol of strength and flexibility — references the widespread use of hollow sections of bamboo as vases in tearooms. In addition to being an influential chef and restaurateur, Rosanjin was a multidisciplinary artist who was instrumental in reviving and elevating the status of traditional Japanese cuisine and tableware. The contemporary tea container by Tokyo-born lacquer artist Yamamura Shinya (b. 1960) made of wood, lacquer, mother-of-pearl, and gold is easy to spot by its multicolor, luminescent rhinoceros hide spiral pattern. Yamamura is known for his exacting process — all the more impressive due to the diminutive scale of his works — and innovative use of natural materials, which result in vessels with strikingly precise geometrical designs.


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Images: Tea container with rhinoceros hide spiral pattern, by Yamamura Shinya (Japanese, b. 1960). Wood, lacquer, mother-of-pearl, and gold. Asian Art Museum, Gift of Gordon Brodfuehrer, 2011.52.a-.b. © Yamamura Shinya. Photograph © Asian Art Museum. Frog-shaped Container, 1900–1950. Vietnam. Silver. Asian Art Museum, Bequest of Beryl H. Buck, B85M3. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.