Set of six sake or sencha cups with slip design and inscription

Artist: Miura Ken'ya (1821-1889)
Historical period(s)
Meiji era, late-19th century
Brown clay; white slip, iron pigment under transparent lead glaze
H x Diam (overall): 4.3 x 7.8 cm (1 11/16 x 3 1/16 in)
Japan, Tokyo
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Ceramic, Vessel

Sake cup (choko)

iridescence, Japan, Meiji era (1868 - 1912), sake

To 1904
Kosa Honma (1842-1909), to 1904 [1]

From 1904 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), given by Kosa Honma in 1904 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 1310, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Honma Kosa (C.L. Freer source) 1842-1909
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


The vessel shape and bold brush application are intended to evoke Korean bowls roughly brushed with white slip--the so-called hakeme effect. Such bowls found favor among devotees of matcha, the whipped green tea consumed in the tea ceremony. But in this set, the diminutive size points to another form of tea drinking: sencha, the steeped tea which became widely popular at the beginning of the Meiji era. The aphorism inscribed on the sides of each piece, "The will of the people is the will of Heaven," has just the kind of scholarly flavor the devotees of sencha admired. Such a style is unique for Ken'ya, since most of his decorations feture stereotypical Kenzan flowers and grasses.

Published References
  • , Kawahara Masahiko, Nakazato Tarouemon XII. Toji taikei [Complete Collection of Far Eastern Ceramics]. 48 vols., Tokyo, 1972-1978. vol. 7: pp. 4:13-19.
  • Mizuoka Tadanari, Narasaki Shoichi, Seizō Hayashiya. Nihon yakimono shusei. 12 vols., Tokyo, 1980-1982. vol. 1: pp. 150-151.
  • Nagasaka Kaneo. Toki Koza. multi-vol., Tokyo, 1938 - 1939. vol. 4: fig. 2:1-18.
  • Louise Allison Cort. Korean Influences in Japanese Ceramics. vol. 15, no. 5 Hong Kong, May 1984. p. 29.
  • Mitake Hideyuki. "尾形乾山を引き継いだ陶芸家たち: 三浦乾也一門 =." Potter of Ogata Kenzan believers: Miura Kenya and his partners. Tokyo. p.35, no. 94.
  • Richard L. Wilson. The Potter's Brush: The Kenzan Style in Japanese Ceramics. Exh. cat. Washington. cat. 47, p. 123.
  • Ken'ichiro Ono. Toki Daijiten [Encyclopedia of Pottery]. 6 vols., Tokyo. pp. 470-471.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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