• Yuko Kuwamura

Confectionery container by Katsumi Kawasanada: Adornment of early spring in remnants of camelia

black persimmon confectionery container.
black persimmon confectionery container.

In late March, when the cold return bites on the stretched limbs, festivities of the Hirahachiko are held everywhere from the foot of the mountain to the lake in Mount Hiei. As one appreciates the Lotus Sutra and wish for safety, it is an annual ritual bringing spring to the city of Kyoto. The willows along the Kamo River, filled with cheerfulness, sprout many adorable buds on their supple branches, as if they were layered in white-green clothing.


From Yoshimine-dera to Daigo-ji, Hozu Gorge and the Uji River, people already crowd the streets of Rakusai Rakunan, anxiously awaiting to see the cherry blossoms. The flowers open their buds to respond to the still shallow spring sun. If you go into Rakuchu and walk along the quiet stream of the Shirakawa and Takase rivers, the cherry blossoms light up the early evening. It's the most momentary time of the year for people to get carried away.


In the hustle and bustle of people enjoying the cherry blossoms, there are people who quietly cherish another spring flower, the camellia.


A small party of very close people enjoy the remaining camellia to their heart's content.


For this day of the camellia, friends and acquaintances share their secrets, bringing camelias from deep in the mountains. Without being bound to any rules, the flowers are arranged in their favorite bowls, a nourishing sight for the mind and soul. Inviting customers from afar, people share the time admiring the beauty of the rare species of camellia which are said to have thousands of varieties, such as Tsubamekaeshi, Shokkou and Kihou. Conversations bloom as they enjoy the flower talk of the many species of camelia and the tales surrounding their imaginative names.


Every year, even if the menus to be prepared should change, what does not change is that the flowers are delivered from the same tree and from the same mountain.

The sender and those who receive, share the ritualistic message that the flower helps to convey.


I’ve had the fortune of always being the receiver. As the season approached, I bring out my favorite container and think of the people and their faces that I long to meet. The most important thing when thinking about arrangements is to keep it simple. And although I try to keep within my realm, I sometimes extend my reach for something a little more.


For this year, my choice for the leading role was the black persimmon confectionery container.


It is the norm to match this type of hexagonal container with a parquet upper plate, but I am fascinated by the boldness of carving both pieces from a single wooden piece. The unique patterns are like fingerprints of nature, flowing in design because it is carved from one piece. The three legs are made by joining the same black persimmon wood with a joiner and applying black lacquer. It radiates a prestigious and invincible presence yet full of warmth and kindness. The creator had absorbed the unrivaled power of a classic masterpiece, and through only a meditative energy coming from within, transfused that power into his creation.


It seems as though the container and flower had anticipated to meet on this gentle spring day.


When I think of the happiness of meeting each other on such a day, I naturally join my hands toward the mountain of Hiei to show gratitude.


Then, all I have to do is wait for the person I longed to meet.

Yuko Kuwamura

Okami (manager) of Kodaiji Wakuden. She has roots in a culinary inn that opened in Tango Mineyama in Kyoto and now pursuing aesthetics of Wa as the okami of the kaiseki restaurant located near Kodaiji Temple. "Warmth of heart is versatile" is her management policy.


(The original column was written in Japanese and translated to English by ME NO ME for this website)