Rengetsu’s life slowed down at around the age of 75. The long years of travelling, moving, and drifting came to an end in the small village of Nishigamo. In 1865 on the invitation of her friend Wada Gozan she took residence in a humble hut on the temple grounds of Jinko-in, where Gozan was abbot. Since Jinko-in was a remote, quiet, and inspiring place the following years were by far Rengetu’s most productive.
When you look at this delightful Sake bottle, you can easily imagine Rengetsu and Gozan cheerfully drinking Sake together. But when she made this very Sake bottle at the age of 82 her beloved Gozan had already passed away. And it might well be that turning a lump of clay into a Sake bottle induced joyful memories of days long gone.
"Rengetsu's sake wares are adorned with her poems inscribed in her exquisite calligraphy, resonating playfully with the mood of sake drinking." (Meher McArthur, The Sake Wares of Otagaki Rengetsu, Black Robe White Mist, p. 77.)
Oars beat in time
with the seman's
as the moon floats
high above his fishing boat.
The inscription on the box lid reads on the outside: Made by Rengetsu, Sake Tokkuri. And on the inside there is a transcription of the poem and the approval note issued by a certain Koetsu from Jushin-in temple.
Sake bottle, dated 1872
Height 10.8 cm (4 1/4 in.)
Diam. 6.4 cm (2 1/2 in.)
Modern wooden box with inscription.