Scenes from Life with Kyoto Ware / Kiyomizu Ware 03

A Favorite Item for Providing Hospitality

Atelier La Maison Rêve, Tamiko Asai

An afternoon tea party with dear friends. On a table covered with a light blue table cloth, assorted types of Kyoto/Kiyomizu tableware and handmade pastries have been arranged. Time passes entirely comfortably, pleasantly coordinated without the imposition of stiffness or formality.
North of Kyoto Station, in a residential district near Umekoji Park, which bustles with families on the weekend, is La Maison Rêve. The title, in French, means “the house of dreams.” It is a small space, an atelier classroom established on the concepts of “the hospitality of Kyoto” and “the spirit of Paris.” Its director is Tamiko Asai. Here anyone, as if they were close friends, can cook and make pastries together, arrange flowers, and enjoy a mutual hospitality that creates moments of unexpected laughter, spilling over and filling the room.

Communicating a Rich Sense of Hospitality
Ms. Asai once worked overseas as an artificial flower designer for a large apparel company. “I’ve always loved flowers, and I became even more interested when I worked as a designer. As the company had me working in many countries in both Europe and Asia, I was able to experience the life and culture of those places in person. What I realized was, no matter where you are in the world, when flowers have been arranged, it communicates a welcoming feeling. So that got me interested in how we create hospitality itself.”
After 11 years of work, Ms. Asai went to Europe. Through somebody she had met while employed, she cooked and made sweets in many different places, enlarged her knowledge of different cuisines and tableware, learned about the techniques and manners used in the European style of hospitality, and honed her style as a hostess.
“Certainly in Japan we have a wonderful understanding of ‘hospitality.’ However, it relies on the idea of serving the guest, and rarely includes a sense of serving for one’s own happiness. I like inviting my friend’s over to my house and cooking, baking, and setting a lovely table for them. I consider that a rich experience in itself. With La Maison Rêve, I wanted to communicate the prosperous nature of this kind of hospitality.”

Creating More Delightful Possibilities
At La Maison Rêve, Ms. Asai has assembled a diverse collection of tableware: glassware collected in Venice, antiques found while traveling in southern France, and Kyoto ware / Kiyomizu ware.
“My method of buying tableware is simple: I try to buy things that suit me. When I say things that suit me, I’m thinking about what would be nice to show my friends the next time I call them, or what could I put on this to make it look really good. On the other hand, I wouldn’t buy something that I don’t like just because it’s from a famous brand.”
“I loved this Kiyomizu ware series with the motif of white flowers on a light blue background from the first glance, and collected the whole set. However, when it actually appears being used like this, it’s not immediately recognizable as Kiyomizu ware. I’ve arranged it in combination with the color of this European tablecloth, and with these callisons, sweets from southern France, in a flower petal pattern. There are so many options. The traditional Kiyomizu ware of Kyoto makes a strong impression in a lot of different arrangements, and expands the possibilities for joyous expression.”

Splendid Porcelain Makes for Fine Conversation
Apart from the tableware painted with white chrysanthemums, Ms. Asai’s collection includes several other pieces of lovely Kyoto ware / Kiyomizu ware. For her, the fact that they are Kyoto ware / Kiyomizu ware is perhaps simply due to chance, but we took the liberty of asking her about the allure of the ware.
“Firstly, because Kyoto ware / Kiyomizu ware includes items that satisfy different tastes, it’s more fun selecting the most suitable items than with other Japanese ceramics and porcelain. It’s exciting to look within the traditional for items that have a modern feel. Kiyomizu ware also stimulates ideas about what sort of cuisine to cook, or which pastries to select. It expands the imagination.
And, of course, there is so much gorgeous decoration. For instance, after the contents of a certain plate or bowl have been eaten, that dish still looks brilliant by itself. Someone says “what a pretty dish,” and it leads to an animated conversation. Food and flowers are both important to hospitality, but nothing is as important as conversation.”

Tamiko Asai
Director of La Maison Rêve. After graduating from university, joined a major apparel company. Handled development in Japan for the French artificial flower brand, Emilia Robba, and also acted as a designer. After leaving the company, traveled through Europe learning how to make the cuisine and pastries of many different nations. Upon returning to Japan, founded the atelier classroom, “La Maison Rêve.” As a classroom for cuisine, sweets, flower arranging, and other activities, La Maison Rêve aims to make the complete coordination of one’s lifestyle into a familiar matter. It is currently expanding its activities.

La Maison Rêve
Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan