Shrine Sales and Flea Markets

Night Shadows…Vintage Brass Karakusa Globe Lanterns

photo

The items I get inquiries about all the time are my vintage Japanese filigree globe fixtures. The pierced brass scrolling arabesque pattern, known as karakusa, which appears everywhere in Japanese decorative arts, from porcelain to textiles and more, creates the most playful shadows on the ceilings and walls at night.

The largest of these globes that I have seen is this 18 inch diameter one now hanging in my Doha living room with its lovely high ceilings. It lived in a box in Tokyo as none of the rooms had ceilings high enough to accommodate it. That story can be found here.

doha living room

I’ve never been able to source the original maker and the fixtures themselves are unmarked but I would confidently date them to the post war period around 1950. Other dealers seem to make the same assumption, although I occasionally see them listed as 19th century or art deco, but that is incorrect. These modern fixtures take their cues from the ceremonial lanterns found at Japanese shrines and temples in terms of their pierced design work, but the round globes are a simplified modern form, quite different from those more ornate lantern shapes – often hexagonal or even octagonal. That said, I have sold a few hexagonal versions that take their cues more literally from the old shapes. No examples to show here as those lights are awaiting installation in clients’ homes, but I will share when they are ready. I don’t know if the globes were used as temple lamps or made for personal home use (I highly suspect the latter), but perhaps one of my readers will.

japanese temple lanterns

Over the last few years I have noticed them popping up all of a sudden on the internet, from Emily Henderson‘s LA shopping haul, where she found one identical to mine…

brass karakusa chandelier from emily henderson LA shopping

…and subsequently hung in the entry of her old house. I haven’t seen it anywhere in her new house so I am wondering what may have happened to it. You’ll notice that this globe is the same giant size as mine and she has had to semi-flush mount it, instead of hanging it from a chain, as the ceiling height is too low. It looks a bit awkward like that, don’t you think? Both of our fixtures have their original hanging cap and O-ring, but sometimes over the years those get lost.

emily henderson house brass karakusa fixture

Like me, Emily chose not to polish it much and kept the patina, unlike this highly shined one sold on Etsy. The seller used the horrible come-to-mean-anything-and-nothing terms ‘Hollywood Regency’ and ‘Moroccan Modern’ when this fixture is absolutely neither. You’ll notice this one still has its rice paper lining, unlike mine or Emily’s.

karakusa globe via a storied style

The fixture above seems to be a mid-size version (it’s listed as having a 14 inch diameter), but definitely made by the same maker. I’ve shown you my small size pair (9 inch diameter) that I found at a shrine sale before and now one hangs in our stairwell in Doha. You’ll notice how having the rice paper lining creates a completely different effect at night, casting no magical shadows but highlighting the detail of the pattern.

brass karakusa globe lantern pair resized

I can’t resist showing these two Katie Ridder rooms again either, as each uses a pierced brass globe to great effect in the bedroom. The one on the left has a floral pattern added to the scrolling vines.

Katie Ridder japanese pendant lamp in guest room ED0306 and girls room

There is a plethora of shapes and sizes available right now on 1st dibs, including this one from Downtown at Profiles identical to mine for a whopping $4200. They also have a midsize one available, and both have been fitted with triple bulbs as opposed to the usual single. Both are missing their original hanging caps and loops.

japanese brass globe lantern 1stdibs

Another 1stdibs dealer called Duo has a series of trios available (from $4200-$5800), including this 11.5 inch diameter group and this 9 inch diameter group. You’ll note they both have their original hanging caps and rings, although the latter are different in style. I find larger fixtures came with the more half-loop shaped style on the left and smaller fixtures have the upside down vee-shaped loop as on the right.

karakusa brass lamp trios

Duo also has this wild and unusual mismatched group, which includes a barrel-shaped fixture adorned with an imperial chrysanthemum and an egg-shaped one with ume (plum blossoms) in addition to the standard karakusa globe. I am fascinated that in the couple of days since I started writing this post and noticed these trios for sale, all three sets are on hold, so clearly a buyer is choosing between them or perhaps a designer is planning on using all of them for a commercial project.

trio of karakusa fixtures

Also worth looking at is this wacky three ball fixture with cracked ice and ume pattern here on Etsy, although it is sold. And if you are looking to buy a karakusa globe and your budget isn’t up for these prices, there is a lovely one available from Kodo Arts in Kyoto on Trocadero with its cap, hanging loop and rice paper intact for $1400. Or just drop me a comment or a note and I’ll add you to my waiting list 🙂

Related Posts:
Expat Decorating…Getting Lucky and Making Do
Katie Ridder, Eat Your Heart Out (Over My Latest Shrine Sale Find)

Shrine Sale Stories…Treasures From My Trip To Tokyo

My long weekend in Tokyo was simply sublime. Days of friends and food and lots of shopping were just the restorative I needed. The weather didn’t cooperate, but it didn’t really matter. Kawagoe was a bit thin on the ground because of the threat of rain and unfortunately the next two days delivered the promised precipitation, although it didn’t keep us from the markets. It did however keep me from taking lots of photos, so most of the finds recorded are from the first day out. I also broke my own rule of “buy it when you see it” a few times, mulling over the weight and difficulty of transport, which meant I lost out on a few things, although as usual, there is a funny story attached to one of them.

photo

There were some things that didn’t get away – like these swirling blue and white dishes – and others that did – like these kutani lidded teacups – so beautifully painted they looked like brocade.

kutani lidded teacups

This very fine takamakura, complete with original buckwheat filled pillow went home with a friend.

takamakura

A search for a tansu was successful, yielding this lacquer beauty for a fraction of its retail price. Tansu at shrine sales are often in poor condition which is why they are a bargain, but this dealer had lovingly restored this piece.

photo

Brought home and placed in the entry it will be a workhorse, holding gloves and scarves and general entry clutter.

lacquer tansu

Speaking of tansu in poor condition, I also popped in to the The National Art Center to view the Joint Graduation Exhibition of Art Universities. Not sure what the meaning of this installation of destroyed tansu by Shunsuke Nouchi is meant to represent, but I couldn’t resist including it. Student exhibits in Japan, as elsewhere, can be really fun, ranging from discoveries of major talent to down right awful. I can’t help but feel bad for these chests!

photo

Another friend and client scored really big, bringing home all kinds of treasures. The giant wooden gears – very Vincente Wolf – will be hung as a focal point on a bare wall. We got very lucky, finding three with just the right amount of variety in size, shape, color and detail. A vintage onbuhimo, better known as a baby carrier, has lovely indigo cloth woven into its straps. And a large lacquer carrying chest, billed as Edo period by its dealer, but not, is extremely decorative with its etched brass hardware.

photo

As for my haul, I had to keep reminding myself that I had to carry anything and everything I bought home. So I left behind an entire basket of small fishing floats and even some charming porcelain. I had to have the gray and white bowls – which were likely the more expected blue originally but now faded – because I knew they would look great with the dining table and they are that perfect not too big, not too small size. I picked up a few wooden pieces, a tray and some itomaki, including this unusual long one. A small hibachi with the great geometric asa-no-ha or hemp pattern was also a keeper. But as always, my eye and my wallet are equally lured by non-Japanese discoveries and I fell in love with these bright Turkish glasses and a cut glass jam pot. I’ve been having a bit of a glass fetish lately – wait, aren’t I always having some kind of glass fetish?

photo

The promised funny story is about the glasses, made for serving arabic tea, but I can imagine them holding dessert or even wine. I saw five of them, 3 pink and 2 purple, on a table at one of my favorite dealers at Kawagoe and passed them only because I decided there weren’t really enough to be useful and their fragility made them hard to transport. My mind kept returning to them over and over (those silver mounts!) as I wandered so I went back only to discover they were gone – massive bummer!

arabic turkish tea glasses

Imagine my surprise when later that evening I walked into the kitchen of the dear friend I was staying with for the week. Long my partner in crime and shrine sales, SHE had bought the glasses and they were now sitting on her kitchen counter. It was one of those moments of fierce purchase jealousy, but the truth was if I couldn’t have them, better she did than some stranger. Or at least that’s what I kept telling myself while contemplating going to the mat for them.

Turkish glasses

The surprise continued when we saw the same dealer the next day and once again he had 5 of the glasses out on his table. It was a confusing moment of déjà vu, but we at least had the good sense to ask if he had more and it ended up he had an entire box! So all’s well that ends well and one day we have to have a massive party together and use them all!

Related Posts:
Shrine Sale Stories…Recent Treasures
Shrine Sale Scorcher…Vintage Mirrors on an Extremely Hot Day
Shrine Sale Stories…Vintage Matchboxes, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel and The 1948 London Olympics
Shrine Sale Stories…Yamamoto’s Steamer Trunk
Shrine Sale Stories…My French Moderne Bar Cart

A Bit of Cosmic Luck…Shrine Sale Synchronicity

My advice to new expats includes the caveat for a small escape clause, often timed to that six month-or-so point (dip?) in the experience. After mulling over the mysteries of the cosmos in my last post, I am taking my own counsel, spurred on by a little February calendar magic. I’m headed out tonight for the lovely land of Nippon and will be in Tokyo over the weekend. As luck would have it, the 28th this month – better known in some Tokyo circles as Kawagoe shrine sale day – falls on a Friday, nicely followed by an entire weekend of other shrine sales around the Tokyo area. Three days of uninterrupted antiquing, plus lots of eating and best of all, seeing friends.

I’m not the only one thinking about things Japanese these days. The March issues of the major shelter magazines brought a rush of antiques, mostly in the form of tansu, which while always unusual to spy, was made more so because there were so many of them! House Beautiful featured a new construction Sonoma property that had a zen-like feel even before I learned the owners had formerly lived in Japan. Designed by Rela Gleason, who brings a multicultural viewpoint and proficiency in mixing in Asian antiques, it has a few standout pieces like this iron strapped tansu…

photo

…and the real yowsa piece, this massive mizuya tansu in the bedroom. I’m always preaching these large pieces in lieu of built-in cabinetry, whether it be in the kitchen (where they were designed for) or better yet, in the bedroom, where they can hold massive amounts of clothing and extra bedding. The contemporary bed in indigo plays off the other vintage pieces from the trunk to the herbiers. All things close to my heart as you well know.

photo

Elle Decor featured a Joe D’Urso designed double NYC brownstone, the kind that has had its facades restored but the interior completely blown out. A skylit living room laden with well stocked book shelves has a lovely tansu tucked in the corner…

photo

…but the yowsa piece here has to be the 17th century byobu of pines on a golden background in the master bedroom. Again, the Japanese antiques look so fresh when paired with the modern spaces and furniture.

photo

So I’ll leave you salivating over these lovely pieces as I go off to pack my suitcase – very lightly so as to leave plenty of space! I have a few client requests that I am searching for, so let me know if there is anything you need or want (aren’t they the same thing?) I’ll be posting live from Instagram as I find things too. Details on the shrine sale schedule this weekend can be found here, as always. And as for my Japan based readers, I am hoping to see you all out at Kawagoe on the 28th. Please be sure to say hello!

Related Posts:
Where Do You Tansu?
Where Do You Tansu? Part II
What’s Cooking? Tansu in the Kitchen
Provenance…Byobu and the Race to Acquisition
Beautiful Byobu…Japanese Screens at The Nezu Museum and at Home
Michael Smith Has One Too!

A Global Crossroads…the Flea Market at Old Jaffa

flea market old jaffa

No vacation or trip is complete for me without finding time to hunt down an antiques market or neighborhood. Even with the rampant globalization which has started to blur trade borders for even the old junk of the world, somehow each city maintains its own unique vibe when it comes to vintage. Tel Aviv was not highlighted in my post the other day as it is less a treasure trove of ancient history and more a city that feels like New York met Miami met Europe hanging out in the Middle East. And while we wanted to shop and eat at every cafe and boutique that lined the streets, we simply didn’t have the time. Instead, we prioritized Old Jaffa, perched at the southern end of town, in no small reason because of its famous flea market, Shuk HaPishpushim.

Directly next to the unmistakable clock tower and lying below the more picturesque Old City, the flea market has supposedly been in operation in this spot for over 100 years. It it quite easy to believe that to be true. Selling things from every corner of the world, from carpets and textiles (of which they had wonderful ones although I forgot to photograph them) pottery, metals, paintings, old hardware and devices, ephemera, bric-a-brac, junk and all kinds of furniture, you can imagine the ancient port being a center for trade. And in that sense the market at Old Jaffa and its big sister city Tel Aviv had something in common, a real international sensibility.

The open outdoor stalls of the flea market were in many ways an example of flea markets at their worst. There was a great deal of absolute garbage, literally things that looked and sometimes smelled as if they had been pulled from trash bins. But in between lurked some treasure, from old aluminum and enamel cookware to brass ewers and pepper grinders. Some stacks of old encaustic tiles caught my eye and I heard that unusual tiles are a fairly common find here.

encaustic tiles

My favorite find was a bin of old printing rollers, perhaps for wallpaper or fabric, I wasn’t quite sure. They were short ones or I might have bought the whole shebang to turn into lamps.

rollers

Much more impressive than the open air market was the ring of surrounding shops and more permanent covered arcades. I was amazed by the quality and variety of furnishings and objects that were available as well as artisanal jewelry, clothing and home accessories. I was very busy thinking about what I wanted and less about what a post might need so I don’t have as many personal photos that give a feel for the hustle and bustle of the place. But in addition to loads of regional items, like the giant Arabic brass and copper trays my friend almost bought until she realized they were too large and heavy to fit in her duffel, there was a treasure trove of international design.

From classic mid-century modern…

mid century modern

…to trendy rough luxe (although this is clearly all new). Does anyone else think this screams Restoration Hardware?

Restoration Hardware

My favorite shop Nekudotchen was a cornucopia of styles and periods and I would have liked to do real damage in there. They had shelves loaded with antique bottles and industrial lighting.

bottles

This tiny mint green bench would be ideal in my entryway at the beach house. I am having a fetish for benches these days, although this one has about a quarter of the size of the ones I have ordered here in Qatar.

mint green bench

And speaking of soft Scandinavian painted pieces I was desperate for this long low sideboard tucked away upstairs. It needed a wee bit of TLC but would make such a lovely TV console. The reeded glass and those kinda quatrefoil-like cutouts were darling.

gray scandinavian sideboard

Chandeliers were in no short supply – and you knew I’d be getting around to mentioning them. This antique crystal one had a really unusual shape with horizontal branched arms. There were even a few other shops lined two floors to the rafters with fixtures.

crystal chandelier

The big find of the day for me was this lavender (!) Murano glass chandelier in a small mixed shop. It was one of those have to have it moments even though I have absolutely nowhere to hang it. I played pantomime with the owner, bargaining away, but honestly the price was good from the get go. We talked about breaking down the pieces and wrapping it tightly and carrying it on with us. The big problem was that I knew we had our time banging around in open jeeps in Jordan ahead of us. Caution and common sense won out and I left it behind, although I am still carrying the shop owners card around with me.

lavender murano glass chandelier

After all, he said he could ship it…

The flea market seems to be open every day but Saturday and closes earlier on Friday. We also strolled the wonderfully restored upper city which is full of art galleries and creative boutiques and dotted around the area are numerous cafes and old local food hangouts.

Don’t miss Old Jaffa and be sure to save extra space in your suitcase!

Better Together…East West Collaborations

“Mr. Moore came from the outside and saw the beauty of Hino and its old homes that the locals had grown blind to. He showed us how to breathe life back into old houses and make them shine again.”
-Ryojun Manda, local history museum director

One of the conversations I have often had with both Japanese and Western friends is the way in which a mix of the cultures so often yields a result better than the original. Whether it be the ongoing collaboration amongst women organizing the CWAJ Print Show or the efforts of Amy Katoh and others to validate and thus perpetuate local artisanal crafts, there is something about outside interest that has helped the Japanese see the magic of their traditional arts and culture themselves. Collaborations between the two create a magic of their own.

Quite a few new and old Japan collaborations have been crossing my radar lately, including this restored 150 year old house in Hino, Japan via The Wall Street Journal. An American, Austin Moore, and his Japanese wife Sachiko have spent the last 12 years breathing new life into a rambling old dwelling about an hour outside of Kyoto.

While some of the spaces have been restored to pure Japanese perfection…

Screenshot 2013-11-07 05.40.48

…it is the ones that are an amalgam of East and West that I find particularly interesting. Attached to the house are a few kura or storehouses, traditionally used to store valuables at risk from fire and earthquakes. Key rooms, such as this dining room, are housed in the kura and the weighty-ness of them makes them feel akin to log houses. The mix of Western furniture and Japanese detail creates a warm hodge-podge that feels infinitely more livable than the bare bones furniture that would normally be found there.

Screenshot 2013-11-07 05.41.46

The bedroom has a spindle bed from Moore’s childhood home in Massachusetts.

Screenshot 2013-11-07 05.43.21

The thick earthen walls and sturdy doors of the kura are so ancient in design yet modern.

Screenshot 2013-11-07 05.46.33

Also in my box this week was news from Anthropologie on their new collaboration with the Japanese cult denim brand Kapital. “Inspired by vintage American wear, each piece is reinterpreted through a distinctly Japanese lens with an emphasis on quality, character and a passion for monozukuri, the Japanese concept of craftsmanship.”

Screenshot 2013-11-07 06.43.19

The clothes got me to thinking about some of the authentic characters I would see around shrine sales in Japan. When I could, I would surreptitiously snap their photos. I’ve seen this lady in her coat made from a vintage piece of tsutsugaki a few times…

tsutsugaki coat kawagoe

…and I am always on the watch for someone in baggy Japanese work pants. Somehow I’ve been sure they would be a coming fashion craze, and a scroll through the Anthropologie Kapital collection reinforces that idea. Remember those kasuri work pants? I probably should have bought them.

indigo lady

Kapital is of course exploring modern boro, the Japanese literal meaning being tattered rags, based on these oft-patched and stitched traditional textiles. These jeans are actually from one of their shops in Tokyo, featured on the Anthro blog.

boro jeans kapital

Of great interest to me are the limited edition books accompanying the collaboration, including Kottoichi Sunrise Market and Kottoichi Women, which are a behind-the-scenes peek into the brand’s journey across Japan documenting the “kottoichi,” antique markets set in the midst of beautiful Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Talk about the story of my life these past nine years. I feel homesick just looking at the covers.

kottoichi sunrise marketKottoichi Women

Related Posts:
What Do Giorgio Armani and Alex Kerr Have in Common?
Feeling Fresh…Indigo Textiles and Tenugui

« Older Entries

Tokyo Jinja

Back to top