Kashiya Kokonotsu is a tea and confectionary studio based in Taito-ku, Tokyo. Owner Miho Mizoguchi is a seasoned tea master who leads saryo tea ceremonies at Buddhist temples regularly and is quite possibly one of the warmest individuals I have ever known. Upon meeting me at her studio, she took my hands in hers and thanked me for this “go-en,” or personal encounter.
The tea room interior, which I had the distinct pleasure of shooting, is a tranquil, womb-like space. Charcoal-laden wood shelves house a curated collection of delicate tea ceramics. White linens draped over the windows gently diffuse the midday light. In the center of the room is a long table with six chairs. “I offer one-hour tea room sessions when I am not working at the temple,” Mizoguchi-san tells me. “There are usually about 5-6 people. No words are exchanged. Just an hour of sipping tea, eating wagashi, and reveling in each other’s presence.”
Indeed, Mizoguchi-san created Kokonotsu to offer busy minds a place to rest, to indulge in her nationally-acclaimed handmade wagashi sweets and the quiet company of a few others. Her tea preparation is nuanced, meticulous, elegant. Her wagashi is light, minimal, nourishing. Every minute detail in Mizoguchi-san’s studio is a quiet contemplation of pathos and wabi-sabi aesthetics.
The structure embedded in these sessions ironically allows the recipient a beautifully expansive tea experience, reaching far-flung corners of the mind. After a short shoot in between saryo sessions Mizoguchi-san kindly offered me her latest wagashi creation made of a type of kankitsu citrus called Haruka – a sweet coincidence that I will remember for the rest of my life. Thank you Mizoguchi-san for a truly restorative experience.