Although tea-drinking was introduced to Japan in the early Heian Period (794-1185), the Japanese tea ceremony was only formalised by tea masters in the 16th century. This complex ritual for preparing and serving tea according to specific etiquette reached unprecedented levels of aesthetic refinement, in which each utensil used in the ceremony was essential to its proceedings. Tea bowls, kettles, caddies and fresh water containers all formed part of the chaki (‘tea implements’) which were personally chosen by the tea master for their functional but also aesthetic qualities.
This glazed stoneware tea container is referred to as chaire, which is most commonly used to store powdered tea for the preparation of ‘thick tea’ or koicha. The silk brocade pouch (shifuku) is another tea ceremony accessory, used to store tea containers and tea bowls. The stoneware caddy was made in the Takatori kilns, in Japan’s southwesterly island of Kyushu. The kilns were built in the early 17th century by Korean potters, brought to Japan after the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598).