Posted by: softypapa | January 4, 2008

Japanese Ceramic Sake Flask – Kappa Water Imp Tokkuri

Japanese Ceramic Sake Flask Kappa Water Imp Tokkuri Japan Tokaido Softypapa

Japanese Ceramic Sake Flask Kappa Water Imp Tokkuri Japan Tokaido Softypapa

Japanese Ceramic Sake Flask Kappa Water Imp Tokkuri Japan Tokaido Softypapa

Japanese Ceramic Sake Flask Kappa Water Imp Tokkuri Japan Tokaido Softypapa 


This splendid ceramic sake flask (tokkuri in Japanese) is shaped to resemble a mythical Japanese Kappa water imp.  This sake flask was made during the late Japanese Showa period (1926-1989) and is in good condition with no chips, cracks or large scratches.  The flask was acquired in the beautiful and historic city of Shizuoka, Japan near the foot of Mt. Fuji.  Click here to see more sake flasks and please read below to learn more about Kappa!

Height: 3.7 inches (9.5 centimeters)
Weight: 9.5 ounces (271 grams)

Click here to see other Kappa items!
here to see additional sake items!
here to see other fine-quality Japanese ceramics!
here to see more treasures from Japan!

More about Kappa

Do you remember how you felt after the first time you saw the film “Jaws”?  If you lived near the ocean then you likely never swam quite as far from shore after seeing the movie than you may have before.  That feeling is probably precisely what most pre-modern Japanese felt whenever they even approached a river, lake or stream.  This is because the “Jaws” of old Japan was not any huge man-eating shark, but instead was a rather small water imp called Kappa who lived in family groups wherever fresh water ran quiet and deep.  Though small in stature (about the size of an 8 to 10 year old child) the average Kappa was nevertheless very strong and capable of grabbing and dragging into the water animals much larger than itself including horses, cattle and of course, unwary people.  Though mischievous and slightly evil, Kappa were nevertheless thought to respect the authority of those they deemed virtuous (especially any who could overcome them) and may become loyal and helpful to such individuals.

Kappa are members of the Suijin group of Japanese Shinto (native religion of Japan) water deities which include enchanted serpents, fish and freshwater eels.  Looking stranger than a platypus, Kappa appear to be assembled from the body of a tortoise with the head of an ape, and sport webbed-feet, blue-green skin and scales and an unusual donut-shaped hair style surrounding a flat depression at the top of the kappa’s skull.  It is thought that when Kappa leave the water they remain powerful as long as their head depression is filled with strength-giving fluid.  Japanese folklore advises us to bow deeply when we encounter a Kappa on dry land, as the creatures do appreciate good manners (though they may be scheming to kill you) and will likely bow in return, spilling their strength-giving fluid in the process.  When their head depression is dry Kappa quickly become weak and must return to water in order to regain their strength (giving the clever human a chance to escape!).  In modern times the Kappa’s image has suffered a fate similar to that of the European Ogre (think Shrek), as no one really believes in them any more and their image in art has changed from frightening monster to cute mascot.  Adorable little Kappa images are today used in Japan to promote a variety of commercial products and even as the heroes of animated cartoons.

More about Japanese sake and sake utensils

Sake has long been an important part of Japanese culture.  In the past, sake was considered a very special item, reserved for only the most important occasions, such as weddings, birth celebrations and other auspicious events.  Sake was considered a sacred drink, and accordingly the first glass poured was always offered to the gods before the remainder could be shared among the celebrants.  Sake can be served either warm or cold and special sake flasks are used to both prepare and dispense this unique Japanese drink.  Sake is warmed either by immersing the flask (already filled with sake of course) into warm water until the desired temperature is reached or through the use of a special sake kettle called a choshi.  The latter method however, though common in old Japan, is today usually reserved for ceremonial events only.  Over time, sake utensils, such as cups have developed their own ritual significance which is still evident in modern Japan.  For example, it is today common at Japanese engagement parties for the man and woman to exchange sake cups as a sign of their mutual intent to marry.  Very beautiful sake cups are also given away to celebrate the birth of a child, as these cherished items are considered symbolic of the significance of the new parent-child relationship.  Though normally small in size, sake cups and flasks have long been used in Japan as a medium for the expression of art and calligraphy.  Hand-painted cups and flasks are highly collectable both within and outside Japan and are eagerly sought after by collectors who value their utilitarian nature and artistic splendor.

item code: R2S5-0003399
ship code: L1650


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