Monday, November 14, 2011

BIZEN YAKI (備前焼き)-Ceramics of Okayama Prefecture

Bizen Yaki has a history of about one thousand years. It has avoided foreign influences and has remained true to the old shapes and techniques.  Kei Fujiwara in Barbara Adachi's "The Living Treasures of Japan" said "There is not better clay anywhere. We dig it up from beneath the rice paddies of Imbe. Just feel it. Yes, it can be described as creamy and silky to the touch, but what is important to the potter is that it has great plasticity." 

The Six Families of Bizen, as mentioned on Robert Yellin's blog, are Kaneshige, Mori, Kimura, Ottan, Hayami, and Terami. The first three families are still producing wonderful wares. Of course there are incredible potters with the names of Fujiwara, Yamamoto and more! 

                                                          KORAKUEN GAMA (興楽園)
                                                            KIMURA YUKEI (木村友敬)

Small tea cup

Large tea cup

Kimura Yukei 15 MARK (AKA Kimura Sumio 木村純雄)


I had the opportunity to visit Bizen on Friday November 23rd.  My first stop was to visit Yukei Kimura's kiln in Imbe.  He greeted us graciously and then offered to show us through the kiln. It was quite interesting to go through the passageway into the Japanese garden.  The walls of the passageway had pieces of pottery imbedded into it. He showed us the noborigama and explained about the process. He had bundles of wood stacked along the back walls.  It takes 1200 bundles for firing!  He used to fire 3-4 times a year but these days (he is 83 years old), it is less. We got a couple of small pieces, pictured above.


This is the work of Yukei Kimura 14, of Korakuen Kiln

Bizenyaki Kimura Yukei 14 sake set

Kimura Yukei 14 MARK


Bizen sites: , ,

                                                       FUJIWARA TOUSHIN (藤原陶臣)



Mark yet to be identified


                                                          JOHN THOMAS WELLS

I met Mr. John Thomas Wells yesterday (Feb 21, 2012) and told him I would link his site.  He had some wonderful works on exhibit at Takashimaya Department Store in Okayama which I enjoyed seeing. His link (in English) is:

                                                               TOUSHOUEN (陶正園)
                                                                  KIMURA TOHO

I picked up a great little piece by Toho Kimura.


                Vintage ashtray by Toho Kimura, a better use of the pottery, I think. 

                                   Toho Kimura MARK

I have seen at least three marks attributed to Toho Kimura.  This one above, one character that looks like "chikara" 力  (power) and lastly a hand carved mark of Toho in Kanji.


                                                                GOROBEE GAMA

Here is a great vase by Gorobee Kiln. The bottom mark is the Gorobee Kiln mark, the upper one is probably the individual artist which I have not yet identified.

This is a small plate made by GOROBEE Kiln. There is another mark below the kiln mark which most likely indicates the potter.



                                                                 Yunomi cup by Taizan Kiln

                                                       This is one of the Marks by Taizan Kiln


                                                                KANESHIGE RITOUEN


BISHU GAMA Yamamoto Soushu 山本宗秀

Saturday, November 5, 2011

KOSOBE YAKI (古曽部焼き)-Ceramics of Osaka Prefecture

Kosobeyaki was a pottery with history from the 1600's. It was one of the seven favored wares of the great tea master Kobori Enshu. It eventually died out but was revived in 1979 in Takatsuki, Osaka. I had never heard of this kind of Japanese pottery and was happy to find this tea bowl. I thought at first it might be Karatsu but luckily the bowl came with "papers" explaining it. The artist is Yoshitaka Samukawa (1951-present). He is a noted artist in Japan.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

KARATSU YAKI (唐津焼き)-Ceramics of Saga Prefecture

Types of Karatsu Ware

E-garatsu (picture Karatsu)
Madara (speckled)
Ao Karatsu (blue)
Ki Karatsu (yellow)
Kuro (black ) 
Chosen (Korean style)
Hori Karatsu (carved)

Generic Karatsu Mark (からつ)

This is Kuro Karatsu or Black Karatsu ware, Nakazato Tarouemon-gama

Pair of Yunomi by Nakazato Tarouemon 14 Gama

This is the Nakazato Tarouemon MARK

Nakazato Tarouemon kiln 14 Kiln papers


E-garatsu dipping dishes

E-garatsu tumbler

We visited a wonderful shop just north of Karatsu station called Homura. The link for the store, although only in Japanese, is:  The sales staff were friendly and informative.  I never knew there were so many types of Karatsu ware. The store carries wares from 35 kilns in the Karatsu area.

E-garatsu tea bowl, Ryuufukuji-gama

Ryuufukuji-gama papers

E-garatsu guinomi sake cup, Hinata-gama

I love this one! This is by Hirayama Kenji of Nakanotsuji Gama

There are many styles of Karatsu-yaki
E-garatsu, Madara-garatsu, Chozen-garatsu, Mishima-garatsu, Kuro-garatsu, Ao-garatsu, Hori-garatsu, Mugi-garatsu, Hakeme-garatsu, Jakatsu-garatsu, Okugori-garatsu, seto-garatsu.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

MIYAJIMA YAKI (宮島焼き)-Ceramics of Hiroshima Prefecture

Miyajima-yaki is not one of the most well known types of Japanese pottery. Miyajima is the little Island near Hiroshima with the orange torii gate that sits out in the water.  It is a lovely place to visit. Besides the famous shrine with the torii gate, they are also known for Japanese maple leaves or momiji.  When we were there I noticed many of the shops had pottery so we asked them where it came from.  They actually make it there on Miyajima! Here is a sample of the pottery they make there.

Set of cups (meoto) with maple leaf design.

Osuna-yaki is pottery of Miyajima. It traditionally used sand from the shrine. I found this lovely sencha set by Kawahara Tosai at a charity shop.
Just as you arrive at Miyajima you see the Kawahara Tosai store which I believe was established in Showa 14. The set does not appear to have been used and is in pristine condition. The box is an old style box and has worn with age.

                                                        Nine piece sensha set.



Itsukaku Yaki was pottery of the Itsukushima Shrine. The sands around the shrine were used to make carved pottery with the shrine and tori gate. It is most often referenced with other 3D wares on the Internet under Banko. Banko ware is not the only ware that used this carved 3D technique. In fact you'll find it in Tobe porcelain, Akita and in a few other areas in Japan. It is no longer made on Miyajima and I was hard-pressed to find anything about it on the Internet. It just disappeared. 
The ones made on Miyajima made ware specifically use the tori, shrine and mountain motif. They usually will have written in Japanese sousho script Itsuku Jinja (厳島神社) on them. I want to thank a follower, Gerry, who first brought this type of pottery to my attention a couple of years ago. Since then I have finally found my own little vase to share with you.

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