For who might not know, an ochawan is a utilitarian bowl meant for either drinking tea or eating rice. However, each bowl represents a kind of personal eating space much like how you have a specific chair at the dinner table.
The transformations seen at the exhibition completely personalize each ochawan giving the viewer a look into the mind and soul of its creator.
“It’s a very private matter,” said artist Akira Yoshikawa, who helped install the first Ochawan Transformation Exhibition 17 years ago. “Your ochawan is not shared with anyone at all, and that’s the food culture. You don’t share your ochawan or ohashi.”
“Ew… he eats worms”, John Ota.
Before the first exhibition 17 years ago, Yoshikawa was working on a project that involved mixing paints. While he was working, he came back to a porcelain plate he had been mixing paints on and the idea struck. What about painting the outside or inside of an ochawan?
“It was very popular back then,” said Yoshikawa referring back to the first exhibition.
With the help of the National Association of Japanese Canadians Toronto Chapter, Yoshikawa was able to bring back the exhibition with the help of artists like Bryce Kanbara.
“Squid Bowl”, Bryce Kanbara. — at Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre.
“We’re really glad we had so many contributions,” said Bryce Kanbara. “The submissions that we got this year for this show I think they’ve absolutely amazing and I had no idea people, and a lot of them are not practicing visual artists, came up with amazing ideas. They are not only about decorative beauty, they’re about concepts, humour, and some of them are just outrageous.”
At the exhibition there were all kinds of ochawan from elegant to comic, but for Yoshikawa it’s just great to see how many people had turned out to submit their creation.
“I was really surprised, it’s so elaborate this time,” Yoshikawa said. “The last time, we either decorated it on the inside or outside and that was it. I was really stunned when I saw this.”