Bamboo Root Tea Pot by Kagen with poem by Rengetsu:
Yado kasanu hito no tsurasa o nasake nite
Oborotsuki yo no hana no shitabushi
“No place at the inn but
I find consolation
The hazy moon
And the cherry blossoms.
This expertly made bamboo root shaped teapot (actually a tea pourer) was made by Kagen of Seikado from Shibata in Echizen (present day Niigata Prefecture.) Rengetsu engraved her most famous poem on the side of the pot. Rengetsu’s remarkable ability to engrave the kana and kanji of her poem on any shape of pottery is especially evident here; she makes her characters fit the nooks and crannies perfectly. Rengetsu did many such collaborative works with potters from all over Japan who visited her in Kyoto. This is a fine example of such a joint effort. Kagen was obviously proud of his work, so proud that when he signed the box he wrote his complete address but failed to mention Rengetsu!