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Story of Haruka Matsuo, a Japanese artist based in The Netherlands

Text and photos by Maryse Aalbers

Haruka Matsuo was born in Japan, but she lives in the Netherlands for many years. She makes teapots in a traditional Japanese way. She grew up in a small mountain village without electricity or water. Her father is a sculptor and her mother is a weaver. She was brought up with ceramics. In the summer, the mountains are full of flowering tea plants, but as soon as the season is over, the inhabitants extract clay from the soil of the plantation to make teapots, among other things.

At art school, Haruka started experimenting with different materials such as clay and iron. This is how she started making her own tableware and teapots.

On an autumnal day I meet Haruka in her Studio. Hidden between the trees of the 'Gooi', is her studio.

The morning started with drinking tea, a moment of rest and reflection. A moment she also gives to people through her tea ceremonies. In silence, picking flowers, which are then used to make tea. Everything is done in silence and with attention. For this Haruka uses her self-made cups and teapot from which green "Gyokuro" tea is served.

“When I was little, I had a tea moment with my mother every day before or after school'. 

These teapots are made according to an old traditional Japanese method. They use a wooden mould that you can take apart. It is the same way that was used in the past to make paper lanterns. In this technique called "Kigata Banko Yaki", a thinly pressed piece of clay is wrapped around the wooden mould, using Kakishibu paper (natural paper made from the juice of persimmon fruit). For the glaze Haruka gets her inspiration from nature. From her childhood in Japan, but also from dahlias that whirl in the air.

"It is important that people touch the earth".

As the 9th generation successor to the "Kigata Banko Yaki" craft, Haruka wants to impart to people that they will live with attention and enjoy the now. To be satisfied with the smallest things in life and to get your happiness out of that. For Haruka that is her own vegetable garden. Rooting with her hands through the earth and cleaning pots. To get closer to nature and to take good care of the soil together, so that it gives back something beautiful.

Collection of Haruka Matsuo

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