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Museum Hours
Thurs: 1 PM–8 PM
Fri–Mon: 10 AM–5 PM
Tue–Wed: Closed
Cafe Hours
Fri-Mon: 10 AM—4:30 PM
Thurs: 1—7:30 PM
200 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

Tradition and Innovation in the Japanese Tearoom

May 13, 2021 – Aug 2, 2021
Tateuchi Japanese Galleries

Did you know that we frequently change the works on view in our collection galleries? This summer, we're shaking up our traditional Japanese tearoom by combining traditional tea utensils with modern works.

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 summer in the museum’s tearoom, we have combined traditional utensils with a selection of modern objects. It is a reminder that tea practitioners have long incorporated unconventional and non-Japanese objects into the tearoom.

A vibrant yellow enameled copper lidded container by Chinese American artist Jade Snow Wong (1922–2006) is being used to hold matcha, or powdered green tea. Wong, born and raised in San Francisco’s Chinatown and educated at Mills College in Oakland, is known for ceramics with fluid, organic forms and smooth surfaces. This jar is drawn from the museum’s holdings of 40 works by Wong, the largest collection anywhere of the artist’s important works.

Another striking addition to our tearoom is a sculptural freshwater container resembling a block of ice by eighth-generation Hagi potter Kaneta Masanao (b. 1953). Made with his signature technique of scooping out the excess from a block of clay instead of shaping it on a wheel, this container is used to hold cold water to replenish the kettle during a tea gathering and to clean tea bowls at the end.

Other objects on view in the tearoom this summer include traditional works made by modern and contemporary artists, such as a teabowl with the black and iron rust glazes typical of the Mingei (folk craft) movement by Hamada Shoji (1894–1978); a tea scoop made of naturally mottled leopard bamboo (monchiku) by Kagata Chikushin (b. 1938); and a calligraphic hanging scroll by Zen master Adachi Daishin (1932–2020) with the phrase ro do do (“manifest and evident”), conveying the idea that truth is not hidden but can be found everywhere.


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Images: Freshwater jar (mizusashi), 2011, by Kaneta Masanao (Japanese, b. 1953). Stoneware with feldspar glaze (Hagi ware). Asian Art Museum, Gift from the Paul and Kathleen Bissinger Collection, 2016.100.a-.b. © Kaneta Masanao. Photograph © Asian Art Museum. Covered jar, 1951, by Jade Snow Wong (American, 1922–2006). Enamel on copper. Asian Art Museum, Gift of the artist’s family, 2018.44.a-.b. © The Jade Snow Wong Family. Photograph © Asian Art Museum.