30th-Anniversary Temporary Exhibition :
“Invaluable Legacy: Tobi-Seiji and Yuteki Tenmoku

This exhibition features the two national treasures along with their accessories owned by The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka, which have been handed down through many centuries, cherished as karamono or “Chinese things”. The trade between Song China and Japan which began in the latter half of the 12th century brought in many exquisite Song art objects into Japan. In the 13th century zen priest Eisai (1141-1215) introduced the culture of tea drinking to the Kamakura Shogunate, which became a popular practice and enhanced the art works of China to become a fashion by the Muromachi period (1392-1573). The Ashikaga Shogunate especially praised the art objects from the Song, Yuan and Ming China, calling them karamono. Such artistic sensibility provided considerable influence on the Japanese culture from then on and has been carried down until today. Accessories that accompany the karamono suggest the aesthetic tastes of the possessors through generations and how they admired the masterpieces. Notable examples are the three stands for the tenmoku tea bowl, exhibited for the first time since the opening of the museum. All made in the Southern Song dynasty, such stands were important accompaniments for yuteki tenmoku tea bowls in Japan.

The new LED illumination introduced within all museum galleries from this April effectively shows the beautiful glazes of the ceramic art works as if viewing under natural light. Shock absorbent platforms are installed in the Temporary Exhibition Gallery, which enable viewers to enjoy observing the beauty of the interior of the yuteki tenmoku tea bowl and the celadon glaze of the tobi-seiji vase from a lower eye level.  We hope you will enjoy the karamono ― works of art brought from China and have been treasured by the Japanese through many generations.



30th-Anniversary Temporary Exhibition
“Invaluable Legacy: Tobi-Seiji and Yuteki Tenmoku


Saturday, October 27 ― Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Temporary Exhibition Gallery
The Museum of Oriental Ceramics,Osaka
1-1-26,Nakanoshima, Kita-ku,Osaka
-Just in front of “Naniwabashi” station of Keihan Nakanoshima Line -400m from “Yodoyabashi” station of Subway Midosuji Line or Keihan Main Line.
-400m from “Kitahama” station of Subway Sakaisuji Line or Keihan Main Line.

Opening hours:

from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM
※Open until 7:00 pm during the main performance of the event “Osaka Hikari Renaissance (Renaissance of Light) 2012” (from Friday, December 14 to Tuesday, December 25)

※Last admission: 30 minutes prior to closing time


Mondays (open on December 24)

Organized by:

The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka


Adults 600yen (480yen)
University and high school students 360yen (300 yen)

・Prices in parenthesis are group discount rates for a party of 20 people or more.
・The following visitors are free of charge:
*Holders of Shintaishogaisha techo (Identification Booklet for the Physically Challenged), including one companion
*Senior citizens of Osaka City holding IDs including:
Kenko techo (Health Handbook) with a ‘crane’ mark
Keiro yutai joshasho (senior discount ID for public transportation)
*Junior-high school students and under

Number of items on display:

approximately 7 pieces

Also showing:

Featured Exhibition:

“The Charm of Oriental Ceramics- The SHINODA Hiroyuki & Megumi Collection”

Chinese and Korean Ceramics of the Ataka Collection
Korean Ceramics of the Rhee Byung-Chang Collection
Japanese Ceramics
Chinese Snuff Bottles of the Oki Shoichiro Collection


The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka
Phone: 06-6223-0055
Fax : 06-6223-0057

Major Works

National Treasure TEA BOWL

Tenmoku glaze with “oil spots”

Jian ware, Southern Song dynasty, 12-13th century

Mouth diameter: 12.2cm
The Museum of Oriental Ceramics,Osaka

(Gift of Sumitomo Group) Acc.No.10633

Tenmoku tea bowls with oil-like spots appearing on the surface are called yuteki tenmoku (oil-spotted tenmoku) in Japanese. It is mentioned as one of the treasures suited for use by the shogun in “Kundaikan Souchoki”, which records ornamentation of public and private spaces for the shogun, including karamono. This tea bowl is regarded as one of the finest, with iridescent gold, silver and bluish spots covering the whole body including the interior. The attached document mentions that it was formerly in the possession of Toyotomi Hidetsugu, which was later handed down to the Nishi-Honganji Temple, the Mitsui family and the Sakai family of Wakasa Province. Assuming from the fact that the storage boxes of the three stands bear inscriptions of different names of owners ― Arima, Kobori Masatada and Kobori Enshu ― however, each of them had been handed down separately from the tenmoku bowl.

National Treasure
Celadon with iron brown spots
Longquan ware, Yuan dynasty, 14th century

Height: 27.4cm
The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka (Gift of Sumitomo Group) Acc.No.10630

The Japanese highly praised vessels with iron spots scattered on the surface under the celadon glaze, calling them “tobi-seiji”, often used as a tea utensil. This vase has a form of yuhuchun, characterized by its gently swollen body and the elegantly narrowed neck, featuring the iron spots reminiscent of butterflies soaring up into the sky. Formerly owned by the Konoike family, a powerful merchant from Osaka, it is thought to correspond to the tobi-seiji vase recorded in their list of utensils written in 1791.

Important Cultural Property
Longquan ware, Southern Song dynasty, 13th century


The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka (Gift of Sumitomo Group) Acc.No.10383

There are quite a number of extant vases with phoenix-shaped handles in Japan. Called “kinuta-seiji” after its typical form of a kinuta or mallet, this type of vase had been treasured among the Japanese. While there are preeminent pieces among the many phoenix-handled vases, with the names “Bansei” (ten thousand voices) and “Sensei” (one thousand voices), this piece, considered to have been formerly owned by the Aoyama family of Tanba Province, is also one of the greatest masterpieces that can rival these renowned vases.