An Enso and short verse are carved into the exquisite wood grain of this round obon serving tray by Shimizu Kosho of Todaiji Temple in Nara enclosed in the original signed wooden box. The four character poem reads simply, “Seated among flowers, Drunk on the moon”. It is 15-1/2 inches (39.5 cm) diameter, 1 inch (3 cm) tall and in fine condition. The image was painted by Kosho, and carved at the Yamanaka Oshima Lacquer Studio.
Mimicking the verse on the tray an enigmatic figure inside a lunar circle and a brief verse decorate the guinomi and tokkuri also decorated by Shimizu Kosho. A paper enclosed states the cup was made by Okuda Yasuhiro and decorated by then Head Priest of Todaiji Shimizu Kosho for restoration of the Great Buddha Hall of Todaiji. The tokkuri is 6-1/2 inches (16 cm) tall. The cup is 2-1/2 inches (6.5 cm) diameter, 3 inches (7 cm) tall and in fine condition. The decoration on both pieces was performed by Kosho. The cup comes in the original signed wooden box titled “Moon”. The tokkuri has no box.
Kosho (1911-1999) was a unique and prolific artist-priest studied in the eccentric painting style associated with Nara. He was long time abbot of the massive Todai-ji temple complex in Nara, home of the great Buddha. Like many priests, he began producing art to propagate his teachings later in life. He proved extremely popular, the nonchalant style plucking a string in the Japanese heart. He worked in various media, refusing to be defined, and his work is as eccentric as it is unique, and highly sought in Japan.