Robert Yellin's Japanese Pottery Blog

Greetings from Kyoto, We've just moved our gallery into a magnificent old Sukiya style home located very near the Silver Pavilion; a stunning area and setting for the inspired ceramic art we share with the world. Please visit us if ever in Kyoto or online at and

Monday, January 30, 2006

Contemporary Clay/Japanese Ceramics for the New Century

Right now at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (, there is an exhibition entitled "Contemporary Clay: Japanese Ceramics for the New Century" that is showing until July 9, 2006. The majority of the work on display is from the private collection of Alice and Halsey North (, pioneer collectors who have had the yakimono itch for about 20 years now.
They have studied, and often visited kilns and selected works of the highest quality; their collection is as good as it gets for modern forms. The North Collection has been featured in a past issue of Kateigaho International ( and a small portion of it is also featured in the catlaog that accompanies the exhibition.
The cover shows a winged form by Shigaraki ceramic artist Kohyama Yasuhisa and all in all there are 36 artists in the catalog. Each artist has a concise two-three paragraph introduction as well as at least one color photo of the exhibited piece. Every single piece in the book is an outstanding example for that artist, with a special emphasis on Kyoto artists. More sculptural than functional, the stlyes range from blistered Shigaraki to smooth, elegant porcelain.
Exhibitions like this will certainly attract more collectors to the very exciting field of contemporary Japanese ceramics.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Beauty of Hidasuki Becoming Cosmetic Color?!

A very loyal client and friend recently informed me of an interesting award given for the study of hidasuki, the straw wrapped scarlet color know as a Bizen 'landscape.' In S.R's own words, "Also, there is a L'Oreal Art and Science Foundation in Japan that sponsors studies of color formation or usage. I came across their ad in Scientific American magazine. They gave a gold prize for a study of the formation of hidasuki in Bizen ceramics. There was a brief abstract of the study. Thought you might find the info interesting. Their web address given for here was

Quite honestly, for me I really don't give much thought to how something is made, I'm more interested in the result and whether it moves me or not. Yet, I know some folks may find the study fascinating.

Friday, January 20, 2006

2006 Japan Ceramic Society Awards Winners Announced

Today the news was leaked from a Wako board room; the winners of the 2006 Japan ceramic Society Awards were announced to only a few! The prestigious Gold Award was handed to celadon specialist Nakajima Hiroshi(1941-) who fires out of Saga Prefecture. I went to the JCS exhibition yesterday and the attached photo is of a large celadon platter by Nakajima. His name has also been mentioned as a possible future Living National Treasure for celadon, yet who knows for sure. The JCS Prize---only one this year--was given to....drum roll please..............Ichino Masahiko! We've featured Ichino's work on for some years now; he's a genius in my book. A past interview with Ichino can be read on

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Kimura Chojiroyukei XV

Of all the potting centers I've visited in Japan by far I've been to Bizen (Imbe) the most. So many times I've lost count, 40 maybe......50.
One of the first production kilns I visited on my first trip back in the late 1980s is called Korakuen (from my shuki column a few years back: and is in the center of Imbe. Last week I was there again and paid a quick visit to see how master potter Kimura Chojiroyukei(1930-) was. He glanced at me when I walked in and stuttered..."!(Yellin!)"
The Korakuen kiln is one of Bizen's oldest and the original home to the first Kimura potters, part of the famous 'Six Families of Bizen.'
As I was leaving he slipped me a piece of paper upon which he had written, 'The Beauty of Bizen; I love not the beauty of gorgeousness the less/but natural beauty more. It may not be the greatest luxury, but/Quietly enjoying the naturalness of Bizen/Will surely give comfort/To your daily life.' I thought I'd share his gentle words with you.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Japan Ceramics Society Award Winners Exhibition

The annual Japan Ceramic Society Award-Winners exhibition will be held in Tokyo at Wako Hall, Ginza from Jan.19-28. This time the exhibition will celebrate the 60th year since the JCS's founding and will feature works by 52 ceramic artists including Shimaoka Tatsuzo, Miwa Jyusetsu, Akiyama Yo and Kakurezaki Ryuichi. Please note that Wako is closed on Sunday, for some odd reason. Look for a slide show of the exhibition on sometime in Feb.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Robert Yellin standing in Mori Togaku's O-Gama entrance, Summer, 2004. Posted by Picasa

The Blog is Stoked!

Greetings from Mishima,
It's been a decade since I started writing my Japan Times 'Ceramic Scene' column and about half of that for our web sites at and
I've decided to enter the blog world to share and update information on the ever-expanding world of Japanese ceramics much quicker. Thanks much as always for your interest and let the blog journey begin! Best, Robert