Postcards from Away- Part 2-Wad

The continuing adventures of our man Avi Arenfeld in Japan


The Museum of Oriental Ceramics in Osaka has one of the most comprehensive collections in the world. It was also closed for remodeling the day I went to see it. With only a few hours before the Hanshin Tigers baseball game my friend Aaron and I headed towards Domtombori, one of Osaka’s most popular neighborhoods. Shopping, arcades, and amazing food are everywhere you look in this brain-melting overload of Japanese culture.

Okonomiyaki and octupussballs, covered in bonito flakes twisting and dancing in the heat are served everywhere. North of Domtombori where the shops become more upscale, looking out onto a busy street, Takehito Kobayashi runs Wad, a café and gallery.

After a chance encounter in Shigaraki I took Takehito up on his offer and came to drink tea and talk pots. Takehito's grandfather was a potter, and now he celebrates Japan’s amazing ceramic culture with Wad. We chose from a number of teas prepared by hand and served in an incredible collection of pots from the Shiga prefecture and across Japan.

This is not a typical traditional Japanese teahouse. It is a beautiful combination of café and gallery, with jazz and classic hip hop, making for a spot I would go to all the time if I could. We spent the afternoon drinking tea that makes Lipton look like water. We chose a type of green rice tea that we steeped five times, the first of which was a thick oily broth. It was most powerful raw tea I have ever drank. It was complimented by beautiful wood fired pottery and sweet and salty crackers. By the last steep the tea was thinner, and smooth, still full of flavor but less textural and rich. When we were done Takahito drained the raw tea and served it with soy sauce and bonito.

I had never finished a pot of tea by eating it, but the quality of this raw tea with the soy was reminiscent of steamed collard greens. Complex and earthy, all together it was an amazing tea experience. Full of tea and with pots to take home we left feeling overwhelmed with antioxidants and hospitality.

Aaron and I grew up in Brooklyn together, exploring a city where strangers are often best kept as just that. So many times during our journey here we were invited in, invited out, and offered a drink. A stranger becomes a friend, and that friend can shape your experience. It’s a good thing that the museum was under construction.

Matt's Note

See Wad's website here: Link

and their blog here: If you dig far enough, you can spot a picture of our man Avi (he's on the right)

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