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Ancient Japan comes to Sea Zen, with a sharp edge

In September we returned to Kyoto to search for Japanese objects to share with you – to see and touch and use when you next stay at Sea Zen.

Why Kyoto?
When you stayed at Sea Zen, you experienced a fusion of modern and traditional Japanese design.   Its inspiration was our visit to Kyoto in 2006, the ancient capital that drafted artists from around the world and today still leads a fusion of ancient and modern craftsmanship

The Choju cups

These unique two cups called out to me.  They are hand painted with historic cartoon characters that originated in a remote temple in Kyoto in the 12thcentury.

The rabbits, frogs and monkeys on the cups are taken from 4 Choju scrolls of frolicking animals at the Kozan-ji temple. They are whimsical caricatures making fun of the local monks – a sense of humour way back then.  The designs on the famous Choju Giga scrolls are the first Manga and probably the first cartoons ever!
When you next stay at Sea Zen you can drink from them.  There is a red cup and a blue cup.  You’ll see a rabbit with bow and arrow, a frog and a monkey carrying a box.

As you’d expect in Kyoto, the craftsman works for a well established pottery, in this case the Chikokodu pottery established 140 years ago.  We met the current owner Maasaki, who is fourth generation and still faithful to the traditional style of Kyoyaki pottery.

For those interested in seeing the original whimsical picture stories, now classified as Japanese national treasures, we have ordered the exhibition catalogue in Sea Zen. It will be here when you next visit.

The best knives in the world

Japanese steel making is the best in the world, founded on the intricate methods used to make Samurai swords, a tradition that extended to kitchen knives after the Samurai were disbanded in 1859

It was logical for us to bring back a genuine Japanese knife for Sea Zen.  It can be used by our guests, so you can experience the elegance of the knife in food preparation.  Also you can appreciate its beauty.

As shown in the close-up, the stainless blade clearly shows the many layers of steel formed in its manufacture to give it a combination of strength and durability. I counted 13 layers on each side.

We found the knife in a little shop in Kyoto operated by a local family for 300 years, called  Kikuichi-monji cutlery.  The brand name means Chrysanthemum One, named after Emperor Gotaba allowed his swordsmith Norimune to stamp his swords with the imperial Chrysanthemum crest in 1208, starting with the number one.

We hope you’ll enjoy using the Sea Zen Chrysanthemum One knife!

Nature at Sea Zen
Our unpredictable animals continue to entertain us and our guests. Here’s George on a visit just across the road from Seazen. (thanks Ashley)

And a late visiting Whale off Sep Ck, just before the season finished (thanks to local Kate)