Jet lag always knocks me for a loop. Not so much physically – as a mom I have gotten used to sleep deprivation – but emotionally. The point of transition from my one life to my other is always a bit rocky. And invariably I forget each time that the previous change caused me any anxiety, imagining it to have been seamless. As I creakily fold myself back into my Tokyo routine, my husband reminds me of how discomfited I was upon arrival in New Jersey at the beginning of the summer. I find it hard to believe, but know it to be true and can even read the proof here. And so I know this state of “in between” shall also pass. My blog seems to share this schizophrenic life with me as I tend to write about that which is around me. Luckily, the wonderful Kawagoe shrine sale, held on the grounds of the Narita-san Betsu-in temple on the 28th of each month, welcomed me back with open arms. Filled to the brim with goodies like always, I was particularly struck by the proliferation of antique and vintage iron teapots.
Kawagoe is well known for its great metalwork antiques, although the best dealer of them has been supplanted by new bathrooms, arguably a reasonable trade-off although I wish they had relocated him elsewhere in the market. If anyone has seen him (the guy that was always in the front corner), please let me know!
The iron braziers and kettle stands are lovely in their own right.
You can always count on finding teapots at Kawagoe – this photo was taken last October and I could easily add more from other previous visits. Not sure who the red superhero guys are….
Whenever I see vintage Japanese teapots I think immediately of designer Vincente Wolf, one of the great masters of display, especially of weaving in Asian artifacts to his interiors. His love of travel permeates his work as does his photographer’s eye. In addition to 30+ years as a designer, he also has a showroom with an eponymous furniture line, antiques and decorative objects from around the world and a blog. He was the designer who showed me early on that a mass grouping of similar objects will always trump a scattered display. His are so successful because they activate his otherwise pure and spare rooms, creating unexpected focal points. The vignette below, from an apartment he designed featured in a 1995 Metropolitan Home, was a keeper in my inspiration files. As I left to live in Hong Kong less that two years later, it was highly influential to my own collecting habits.
In more recent designs, Wolf tends to mount individual objects on simple metal stands to great effect. For sale at the VW Home showroom, Wolf has ingeniously hung similar Chinese water vessels on stands.
Kawagoe yielded more items than just teapots that reminded me of Wolf’s designs. Also having great visual impact possibilities were these spool thread gears. Lying in the box they don’t look all that impressive, but mounted on stands or hung on a wall they would be stunning.
Wolf uses a pair of large gears hung on the wall in this room…
…and often uses other kinds of antique discs to make truly effective tableaux.
Another great accent are these roof tile caps found regularly at Kawagoe…
They would look great displayed in a similar fashion to these finials.
Throughout his designs he uses all kinds of objects grouped together, from Buddhist stupas like these on the table…
…to Victorian door knockers shaped like hands elegantly arranged on a tray.
And while I have never seen Vincente Wolf use them in a display (although they certainly do look great en masse), there were also many small Japanese fishing floats for sale at Kawagoe this past weekend. Which of course brings me to my next order of business…
As for my previous identify this post, there were 4 correct answers! The item pictured is a kenzan used in the Japanese art of flower arranging called ikebana. In English we would call it a frog! Since I don’t know how to use that blogger give-away random selector, you will have to trust me as I do it the old-fashioned way and put the four names in a hat and choose one. (Rustling noise of paper) And the winner of a pair of small glass fishing floats is Julie Fukuda! Thanks everyone for your great guesses!
Having just taken a break from this post to skype with my best friend back in the States, I am reminded, by contrast, of how easy we modern-day expatriates actually have it. Instantaneous email, cheap telephone rates – through our computers we can shrink the world to the size of a pea. I think about the adventurers who left their homes through the centuries, not knowing if they would ever return or see family and friends again. For all of my whining above, I know that will never be an issue and that through my writing I am getting to share moments in my life and inspirations with those I love even when they may be far away.
Image credits: 1-4, 7, 10-11, 15-18. me, 5. Metropolitan Home November/December 1995, photo credit: Simon Watson, 6. via VW Home, 8-9, 12-13. via Vincente Wolf’s blog, 14. Metropolitan Home December 2007, photo credit: Vincente Wolf.