Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Japanese Flower Cart

I've had this Japanese Flower Cart since the early 80s; maybe before that since I can't remember where I got it or the story behind it. I used to have it in my garden in the mountains and a mud dauber built a nest in the corner of the cart. Years later I noticed it and didn't have the heart to take it out. It's still in cart. Apparently where the nest was constructed was protected by the rim of the vase so the nest didn't wash away when it rained. Insects are amazing.

I did a little research and I think the vase is a traditional usabata style used in ikebana flower arranging. The cart and vase are made of heavy cast iron and the wheels actually move. The yoke is curved as if an animal might have pulled it, perhaps.

Curiously enough I never looked at this cart before I made the ceramic carts I've been building. Perhaps if I had, I might have built them differently. But maybe not; things I make are a composite of things I've seen all my life. I remember once seeing a person hauling a wooden cart in Sonoma loaded down with hay but I didn't have my camera with me that day. I can still remember it was a young teenage boy pulling the cart and a young teenage girl running after him. The cart was piled very high with the hay and I was amazed they could pull it with what seemed like such ease.

The Japanese artist Kinu Takeshita did a series of paintings of flower carts similar in style to the cast iron one  I have.  Takeshita was an honor student of Hogai Kano, a leading Meiji artist. Takeshita painted kacho-e, (classic bird and flower painting) landscapes, and genre scenes. Uchida published prints by the artist's work in the 1950s.

Here's a closeup of the design on the vase. If you know more about this piece please let me know. This is another one of the items looking for a new caretaker. Thanks for reading and for all  your comments.


  1. hello Linda:
    What an intriguing post. The cart and its vase are absolutely fascinating, so delicately detailed and beautifully made. One can imagine them bearing the tiniest of flower arrangements, changing with the seasons. It is an enchanting piece.

  2. Before I started reading the post I though you had made the cart and vase. They are really beautiful and interesting. You could come up with some fun stories about the life of the cart puller while looking at this piece. It be cool to know more about it and it's designer.

  3. Hi Jane and Lance, thanks, did you see that Kinu made woodblock prints of flowers in each of the four seasons.

    Hi Lori, thanks, well what a wonderful compliment from you thinking that I made this cart and vase, wonder if I could even come close to making a similar one? Perhaps I will try.

    What a good idea thinking about stories about the cart puller, it would be interesting to know about who made, and yet sometimes not knowing stimulates the imagination even more.

  4. Both are gorgeous items - and you've taken such good care of them over the years. That cart is a fun design, and would look lovely full of flowers in a garden!

  5. Hi Julia, thanks, I used to have it in my garden in the mountains, probably shouldn't have though as it does have some rust to it, but I guess it's part of the ambiance.

  6. amazing how similar your cart is to the cast iron one! also pretty cool that is carries a pot.

  7. Oops, I thought it was your cart also. It is really wonderful and think you ought to try one.

  8. Hi Patti, thanks, well another compliment, I may try making one especially with a pot inside I think that would be cool.


I love suggestions, questions, critiques, thanks for your comment