Photographs by Shinohara Hiroaki.
Making tea to start the day means adding a little luxury to the morning
—Aya Eto, Proprietor, Natsutsubaki
“I get up in the morning and first thing, I drink a little plain hot water. Then, after a quiet moment, I make some weak matcha tea. Lately, it’s my favorite way to start the day.” So says Aya Eto, proprietor of the Natsutsubaki store in Tokyo, which offers cups and bowls and the like from noted craftsmen and other handicrafts for daily life. She really enjoys matcha. She used to tell herself, however, that if she made tea at all, she had to do it all right—until a friend enlightened her that all she really needed to do was find a tea cup she liked and start making tea. Then she remembered: Her mother made herself matcha every morning, and she could enjoy it just like her mother did.
When she learned just the basics and tried it herself, she found it more fun than she’d imagined, and it changed how she spends her mornings.
“When I put out that little effort to make myself tea, it refreshes me. I’m aware of the aroma of the tea and the sounds of the process, and for just a minute or two, I concentrate on that and think of nothing else. I think maybe this freshness is what a calligrapher feels while writing.”
Her matcha cup each morning is by Okinawan ceramicist Jissei Ohmine.
“I saw this cup while travelling and fell in love with it. People who love cups and bowls and such frequently don’t think about using them, they just buy them up, right? Making tea is a good chance to put some of these to use. Being able to use items of various different materials, porcelain or iron or brass and such, makes it that much more fun.”
Aya Eto / Proprietor of Natsutsubaki, offering wares from noted modern craftsmen and other handicrafts for daily life. Her store, where she made tea for us, is in traditional Japanese style with a lovely garden view.