Exuberant Spontaneity in an Interior in Osaka

While wabi-sabi simplicity and understatement are the hallmarks of Kyoto style interiors in Osaka often bustle with exuberance and spontaneity. This is well illustrated by Teizo Sato who imparts his innovative and playful spirit to the interiors of his house. The house is situated in an upscale residential area near the Fujiidera Stadium in Osaka. His grandfather built the house over 70 years ago, using Japanese hemlock, which was a popular material for luxurious homes at that time. Over time, the surfaces of hemlock timber as well as the garden have acquired a wonderful patina and a welcoming air.

The Japanese describe a person who is free from the trammels of ordinary life and able to deeply admire the beauty of nature, as well as things, as being furyu. Teizo Sato, a bachelor who is adept at the tea ceremony and Japanese flower arrangement, likes to think of himself as such a person Having lived among beautiful antiques in this special house since he was six, he has cultivated a dis cerning eye and an understanding of Eastern as well as Western aesthetics, and often mixes the two with great panache.

Like many pottery enthusiasts, one of Sato's favorite collections is that of soba cups Soba. or buckwheat noodles, are served on a wickerwork platter and eaten with a dipping sauce served in soba cups. Sato scours curio shops and antique markets after work and on every weekend, sometimes traveling as far as Tokyo to look for cups with special designs. In order to truly enjoy the cups and other tableware he has collected, he has taken to cooking and delights in setting the table with his favorite dishes. His enthusiasm for collecting and using antiques also extends to earthenware, glassware, fabrics, furniture and Buddhist paintings.

Sato enjoys creating innovative interior arrangements to entertain and surprise his guests, while telling them stories related to his displays. Although it is common to see only minimum or restrained decoration in Sukiya-style interiors, Sato's displays are just the opposite, overflowing with new ideas and nuances. He also likes to use byobu, or folding screens, as decorative elements, as a backdrop for his displays, and as versatile dividers for his interiors. Japan has several festivals throughout the year such as the New Year, the Girls' (Dolls') Festival, the Boys Festival, the Star Festival and the Chrysanthemum Festival. On these and other special occasions. Sato creates interior arrangements with appropriate festive themes. He hangs scrolls with paintings or calligraphic works in the Lokonomo alcove to suit each festival. The highlight of such decorations is his display of dolls for the Girls' Festival on March 3 each year, when Sato's home comes alive with dolls and flowers, and is opened to the public for three days. The tradition of this annual exhibition in the Sato house is already 20 years old and becoming widely known, attracting as many as 3,000 spectators each year Hopefully this old home will continue to host this show for many years to come.


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Left: In this unconventionally bold vestibule, a closely woven carpet (nabeshima-jutan) is set in front of gorgeous fusuma doors. The pot on the antique chest is from the Korean Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), referred to as Richo in Japan. Its circular form is echoed in the Oribe-ware plate on the shelf beiow.

Previous pages: The Sato house nestles in an abundance of natural greenery, dotted with the family's collection of stone lanterns (toro).

Above: Staggered shelves (chigaidana) for displaying art objects are usually built beside the tokcnoma in formal interiors. Here, a red lacquer bamboo-woven container (rantai-shikki) sits in the foreground. On the left stands an Edo Period (1600-1867) oi backpack in which itinerant Buddhist monks carried their sutra scrolls.

Left: The alcove, which is rendered in fine black sand, holds a hanging scroll (kakejiku) from Taizan in China. The three kanji characters represent affluence and happiness. A leather hat from the Edo Period, formerly worn by common foot soldiers in place of helmets serves as a vase for a clematis bud.

Above: The folding screen (byobu) patterned with fans is used as a striking backdrop for a splendid, red lacquered low table. Sake bottles, bowls and plates have been set for guests.

Right: The collection of papier-mache dolls rests on open shelves softly lit by the surrounding sboji screen. Such dolls have been made in Fukushima Prefecture since the Edo Period (1600-1867).


Above: This room attempts to combine Japanese sensibilities with Western-style decor'. Antique Koimari ware is intermingled with modern pieces.

Left: An octagonal tray with legs from the Korean Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), an antique Imari pot. and a 19th century Western-style lamp all seem at home in this comer of the veranda.

Opposite: The L-shaped veranda (engawa) provides the characteristic intermediate space between the interior and the garden.

Top: The papier-mache doll in the top picture represents Ushiwakamaru, a popular 12th century general, who is still regarded as a hero in Japan.

Above: These ornamental battledores, made in the early 20th century, are of the kind traditionally used for playing badminton during the New Year's holiday

Left: The picture shows the same room seen in the previous pages, transformed in a flourish by the innovative owner to display a seasonal arrangement of peonies and maple leaves. The open-shelf ranma near the ceiling above the two antique tonsu chests hosts his large collection of blue and white soba cups of various designs.

Previous pages: Irises, maple leaves, temple candle stands and a kimono are displayed against a golden folding screen (byobu). The pattern on the kimono is made especially for early summer, and features carp swimming up the waterfalls. Legend has it that the carp can become dragons if they can succeed in reaching the top.

Above: Shrubbery and rocks in a Japanese garden are watered—the dewy garden is a subtle sign of welcome for visitors. The intention is to please rather than impress the visitor.

Right: The shoji screens of this room are opened, uniting the garden outside with the interior. The half-moon bridge forms the centerpiece of the arrangement of rocks and plants in the garden. The two Japanese cypress (hinoki) were planted by Sato when he was a child. A connoisseur of arts even at that young age, he had planned to someday use them as the toko-bashiro post—which is made of wood selected for its beauty or special associations—in the tokonoma alcove.


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Antique Collecting

Antique Collecting

ABOUT fifty years ago, when the subject of English furniture first began to be studied and to be written about, it was divided conveniently into four distinct types. One writer called his books on the subject The Age of Oak, The Age of Walnut, The Age of Mahogany and The Age of Satinwood. It is not really quite as simple as that, for each of the so-called Ages overlaps the others and it is quite impossible to lagt down strict dates as to when any one timber was introduced or when it finally, if ever, went out of favour.

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