This Traditional Starbucks Mug Is Only Available in Japan
The amount of dedication spent in creating each one is amazing.
Since 2016, Starbucks Coffee Japan has been releasing a series of regional limited-edition goods called the JIMOTO made series. The glasses and mugs are produced in collaboration with traditional craftsmen and are sold at Starbucks shops nationwide to help people discover the beauty of locally made products.
This year, the company released the Tobe-yaki (Tobe-ware) mug cups in the Chuyo area of the Ehime Prefecture as the 10th edition of the series.
The 10th edition of the series - CHUYO Mug San Karakusa (three arabesque)
The previous versions of the JIMOTO made series are unique in their own ways.
JIMOTO made series “Tsugaru Vidro (blown glass, from the left, AOMORI, TSUGARU, HIROSAKI, GOSHOGAWARA)”.
Whenever a mug cup in the series is released, customers learn a little more about the culture and history of the product’s origin. In one case, a Starbucks branch designed a Shigaraki-yaki Tanuki to help familiarize customers with the traditional crafts in the area.
The Shigaraki-yaki Tanuki installed at Starbucks Coffee Kouga Mizuguchi shop.
The latest JIMOTO made series gives a glimpse of what the Chuyo areas in Ehime have to offer. Known for its beautiful pottery, the place is also quite stunning during the spring season. Plum blossoms fill the mountains surrounding the area.
At the Starbucks Coffee Matsuyama Chuo shop, Tobe-yaki artworks are exhibited.
The Tobe-yaki art tile at the Starbucks Matsuyama Chuo shop.
At the entrance of Tobe-machi, monuments made by Tobe-yaki welcome many of its visitors.
The Tobe-yaki design, from which the Starbucks mug was inspired, is characterized by a thick, white rotund porcelain and a blue pattern called Gosu color (Asbolite blue). The ceramics found in the area can be classified in two ways: “pottery” for those made of clay and “porcelain” for those made from stone. The Tobe-yaki is porcelain made mainly of stone and is mostly known for its durability.
President Akira Izumimoto of Tobe-yaki Cooperative spoke about the past, present, and future of Tobe-yaki.
President Akira Izumimoto shares his surprise at the fact that the Tobe-yaki bowls’ materials were no different from those of other bowls. “I thought that the secret of the bowl’s durability was in the raw material of Tobe-yaki,” he relays.
Making Tobe-yaki ceramics is a skill that has been realized over the years and has been handed down from person to person. However, Tobe-yaki is in a transition period of generational change. “The shipments of Tobe-yaki have fallen since the 1990s. Due to the aging of skilled craftsmen, the workforces are retired and there is also a problem that the manpower is not enough," the president says.
In spite of this, there is still hope. The spread of gas kiln (work of putting fire on kiln) and the younger generation’s interest in traditional craftsmanship have saved the pottery-making culture in the area. It is this succession of traditional crafts to the next generation which lies within the very heart of Starbucks’ JIMOTO made series project.
Here’s a peek at how the JIMOTO made series CHUYO Mug San Karakusa in Baizangama is made:
Craftsmen make use of a potter’s wheel in making the bowls. The shape of the circle and the uniform thickness of the edge are achieved with the rotation of the wheel.
The dough is cut into a cup shape so that the apples are peeled off.
The craftsmen measure the dimensions accurately with a dedicated tool.
The dough is poured into the mold through a method called "casting" in order to make the handle.
After attaching the handle and drying it well, they put it in the unglazed kiln and heat it at about 900 degrees for eight to 10 hours. After the “biscuit firing,” “underglaze painting" is done on the slightly pink mug.
Mug cups after biscuit firing
In the underglaze painting, there is no draft and the arabesque pattern is drawn with a single stroke. It takes several years to master the art.
The pigment "Gosu", that produces the indigo blue color of Tobe-yaki, has a recipe that’s been passed down generations.
Glost kiln using after “glazing bowls”
Next, the underglaze painted mug cups are dipped in glaze, fired at about 1,300 degrees in the glost kiln.
The mug cup of JIMOTO made CHUYO, which Starbucks and Baizangama created together, was named Mag San Karakusa, which means “three arabesque patterns”.
The mug has a mountain-like shape inspired by the symbol of Tobe-yaki: the Toishi mountain.
"It is white and simple when placed on a table. But when you lift the cup, you’ll see the arabesque pattern on the bottom,” says Mr. Iwahashi of Baizangama.
He shares his feelings regarding the newest JIMOTO made series and its timely importance. “It is not just a cup, but a mug cup that expresses the importance of coffee time conversation. This is a mug that embodies the "communication from a cup of coffee" that Starbucks has valued.”
When visiting the Chuyo areas of Ehime, make sure to take a look at the Mug San Karakusa and get a glimpse of the creativity and passion of the local craftsmen and Starbucks.
Provided by Japan Walker™, Walkerplus™, and Tokyo Walker™ (29 March 2019)