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"Raku" is associated with a family in Kyoto descended from Chojiro (died 1589), creator of the line of pottery known as Raku ware. The Raku workshop became known for hand-sculpted, black- or red-glazed bowls made for drinking matcha, the beverage central to the tea ceremony.
Kenzan avoided making Raku-type wares himself because his cousin had been adopted into the Raku family to become the fifth-generation head of the workshop. Kenzan's successor, Ihachi, however, mastered Raku techniques and combined them with Kenzan-style painted decoration. Raku-ware works bearing large "Kenzan" signatures were conspicuous among the imitations made in the late nineteenth century for the international antiques trade.