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 (15th Sumio) 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: , ,

In 2018 The 16th Kimura Yukei (Shigeo) became master of the kiln.

                                                       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

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