Photographs by Shinohara Hiroaki.
One last saké before bed, then a sip of green tea as thick as espresso
—Osamu Saruyama, Designer
Living in an elegant home built in the 1930s, designer Osamu Saruyama has a taste for both green tea and saké.
“Whether it’s green tea or saké, I enjoy drinking it from my favorite cup. And when I can, I also enjoy them in a hotel when I’m off travelling. That’s why I’m constantly using my little cup for either one.”
That favorite cup is a small one, rather like a shot glass, made in Yamaguchi Prefecture by Shiro Hamanaka using clay from the sacred soil of Mt. Koya. The cup, with a shape that fits snug in the hand and a patina that ages gracefully, is always part of the small homemade chest of tea-making necessities he carries with him. The box, only about eight centimeters tall, was crafted from a tin lid and an old brass container for storing personal seals.
“Simply by using such a small cup, I’ve already strayed away from the orthodox tea ceremony. But I have the feeling that using small utensils gives me greater freedom.”
Every evening Saruyama drinks his saké accompanied by a seasonal tidbit, and after meals he uses that same saké cup for his green tea. His favorite way of preparing it is to use matcha designed for a thick, strong tea and whisk it into a froth, as is done for the usual thinner green tea.
“When the tea cup is so small, using matcha meant for thicker tea makes it all the more delicious.”
When he starts to comfortably feel the effects of the alcohol, he has a pleasant drink of the green tea as strong as espresso. “Enjoying the aftereffects of the saké I take my time making the tea, and while using my favorite utensils, I lose myself in that little world right there in front of my eyes. If some of my favorite music is also playing, then everything is perfect.”
Osamu Saruyama / Designer. Owner of the Saruyama store, he himself designs and makes tea utensils featured at leading specialty stores such as Kaikado in Kyoto and also cooperates with other designers in developing such goods.