search  current discussion  categories  people 

hamada / festival rice / bowls

updated thu 31 jul 97


John Baymore on mon 28 jul 97

.....cut......We just got our video copy of =22Shoji Hamada, a potter's way
and work=22
narrated by Susan Peterson.....clip.......


Here are my questions:
1. Where do you get those groovey Hamada glasses?


Sumimasen. Sorry...... can't answer that one =3Cg=3E. Make the =
at the local Lenscrafters watch it...... maybe they can do something =
You may not get glasses, but (s)he'll get more of an appreciation for


2. Does anyone have a recipe for the rice dish they serve at the end of the


Actually..... yes.... or at least a variation thereof. Here you go:

Sekihan (Festival Rice)

1 lb. short grain rice (sweeter with mochi gome....but unless you are in
Japan you probably
won't find it anywhere)
2 cups red azuki beans
4 medium dried shitake mushrooms
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
1/2 cup mirin (sweet sake)
1 teaspoon salt

Wash beans under cold water. Bring to boil in 4 qts H2O, from cold.
Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Drain and save liquid. Cover beans with
H2O, cover, and cool to room temp. Let beans sit covered, in water,

Wash the rice in cold H2O til clear. Drain. Add the mirin to the bean
liquid reserved from above, stir. Soak the rice (covered) in the
bean/mirin liquid overnight.

Next day. Steam the shitake for about a minute to re-constitute them.
Dice into small pieces.

Combine the rice and 1 1/2 cups of the beans in a bowl. Steam (in a rice
steamer) the rice and bean mixture for about 35-40 minutes.

While rice is steaming, heat a frying pan......or a sesame sead
roaster...... (no oil), and roast the sesame seeds, shaking ALL the time.
Takes about 2-3 minutes. Put in a small bowl hot, and toss with the salt.

Transfer the steamed rice and beans to a large bowl (preferably a Hamada
Shoji original .....if you've got a spare =2460,000.00 or so). Garnish with
the diced shitake and the roasted sesame seeds.

On to the remainder of the beans (do this second half on the night before
when you cook the main batch of the beans):

Cover the leftover beans w 2 Qts H2O, and boil over high heat. Cook until
very, very soft. Drain the liquid + throw it.

Seive (mash) the beans (16 mesh) with a large spoon, twice to three times.
Wrap the pulp in a lint-free towel and squeeze out the excess liquid.

In a cooking pot, mix 2 pakages of unflavored powder gelatin, 1 1/2 cups
sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 2 cups cold H2O. Bring to a boil,
stiring. Add the beans and re-bring to a boil, stiring. Take off heat as
soon as it boils again.

Pour the mixture into a shallow pan (1/2 inch thick layer is good).
Refrigerate til firm. Cut into squares, and serve at room temperature as
accent dish or as dessert.

I have the basics for this written on a 3x5 card I've had for years......
can't tell you who I got it from..... totally forget. It's good, if you
like the Japanese propensity for sweet beans.

3. If anyone has seen one of those hugh bowls that Shoji was glazing,
please send an estimate of how large they actually were.

While I was in Mashiko last fall I had plenty of opportunity to experience
them close up and first hand. Many I had never seen in pictures before,
some I had. In my opinion, the best ones have not been pictured in western
publications. In the fired form, I would guess (by eye) that they are
about 20-22 inches in diameter (never measured). I make 20=22 bowls... and
they looked just about the same diameter. So probably thrown to 22-24 or
so. Pictures don't do them justice....... they have a presence that is
amazing. They are quite large, and the scale makes them very
powerful......... even Hamada Shoji's smaller pieces give off a
disproportionate sense of strength.

Since forms in traditional potteries were pretty standardized, and all of
the bowls I saw were visually VERY similar, I would bet that there was a
specific set of measurements that the bowls were thrown to (plus or minus a
little). A book I picked up in Mashiko (not available here) actually has
measurements of a few. The range is 50-55 CM in dia. (about 20-21 inches)
by about 12-13 CM high for those produced in the 70's, .......earlier ware
was in the 48-50 wide by 14 high range. So it is a pretty good bet they
all are very similar in size.

BTW...... by the early 70's, Hamada Shoji was not able to throw the large
bowls.... Shinsaku threw them, and his father decorated them. That might
account for the size difference from the 60's to the 70's. Different
thrower. Typical 1 or 2 CM difference.

Also...... all of the large bowls I handled in Mashiko were HEAVY.......
really HEAVY, I mean HERNIA heavy. We're talking boat anchors here,
folks. No attempt was made at lightness. They are bold, massive pots.
Mashiko-yaki in general was thick and heavy. When I came back from Japan,
I stopped worrying about the weight of my large bowls =3Cg=3E.

BTW........ while visiting at Hamada Shinsaku's house (Hamada's son, who is
now 78 years old), there on the low table we sat at while having tea was
.......... are you ready for this........ a Hamada Shoji ASHTRAY. A
perfectly natural object for a functional potter to make, particularly in a
country where the majority of the populace smoke. However as an American,
where high status, big name, internationally recognized =22artist potters=22
wouldn't particularly THINK of making an ash tray, it was a wonderful
reminder of the fact that all this stuff, no matter who we are, is =22just
pots=22. was a really nice ash tray.

BTW... a number of people have asked me privately about Hamada Atsuya, who
figures prominently in Peterson's book, when we talk about my visit in
Mashiko. Sadly, he died in 1986, at only 54 years old.


I would highly recommend this video to anyone who is a teacher of Ceramics
and, or Art History.


Yes, I got it a few months ago (the INSTANT it became available) and concur
completely. Not slick editing or voice-over, but a great tape anyway.
Sort of =22home-movie -ish=22, but all the more charming because of that.

If you are interested in Hamada Shoji (or are teaching ceramic history),
you also should get =22The Art of the Potter=22 narrated by Edwin Neuman and
produced by David Outerbridge. It has Leach also talking about pots. It
is broadcast quality, 54 minutes long, and is delightful.

If you remember back to my (one year) search about two years ago (some
posts here on CLAYART) to relocate this film from the early 70's, I finally
found it, and gave the info to Steve Branfman..... who made arrangements
with the distributor (Phoenix Films) to offer it at a price that is less
than the astronomical =24425.00 they wanted. For individual use it is
=2480.00. For schools and libraries however, it is still =24425.00.

Best (or in the case of this subject, I should say ....ja mata),


John Baymore
River Bend Pottery
22 Riverbend Way
Wilton, NH 03086 USA


( Watashi wa Nihongo ga totemo heta desu, ne'. )