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Fri, Dec 20, 2019

Inaba tenmoku: One of three remaining Yohen tenmoku tea bowls in the world

To go on display at Seikado Bunko Art Museum starting Jan. 18

Yohen tenmoku tea bowl known as “Inaba tenmoku;” Jian ware, China; Southern Song dynasty, 12th-13th century; National treasure (Seikado Bunko Art Museum)

Yohen originally means kiln mutation. It is a term referring to black glazed tea bowls known as tenmoku type with its inside surface covered with many round spots surrounded by lights ranging from blue to bluish purple. They have been preserved as the most precious pieces among the black glazed tea bowls produced at Jian kiln in Fujian province.

There are only three intact tea bowls of this kind that are known to exist in the world. Owned by Ryoko-in, a sub-temple of Daitokuji in Kyoto, Fujita Museum of Art in Osaka, and Seikado Bunko Art Museum in Tokyo, they are all designated by the Japanese government as national treasures.

Recently, fragments of yohen tenmoku were excavated for the first time in China from the site of Imperial guesthouse in Lin’an (Hangzhou), the capital of the Southern Song dynasty, which drew people’s attention. As its alias suggests, this tea bowl was preserved for many generations by the Inaba family which ruled the Yodo domain during the Edo period. It came into the possession of the Iwasaki family in 1934.

National treasure Inaba tenmoku from another angle

This is an excellent tea ceremony utensil as well as a treasure of Chinese ceramic art.

The Yohen tenmoku will go on display at Seikado’s “Blooming of Designs and Techniques; Cizhou Kiln and Song Ceramics” exhibition from Jan. 18, 2020, to March 15, 2020.

For more info:

Outline of the event


Sat, Jan 18, 2020〜Sun, Mar 15, 2020


Seikado Bunko Art Museum
2-23-1, Okamoto,
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo


Adults: 1000 yen
University, high school students: 700 yen
Junior high, elementary school students: free

Closing day

Mondays (except Feb. 24), Feb. 25

Opening hours

10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (Entrance until 4:00 p.m.)



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