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

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

The Year of the Boar; May it bring peace to so many areas of conflict, wise leaders to confront the issues, a populace who cares more for water than 'Super Bowls,' and beauty in the 'little things' that we touch each day. On a lighter note, what a joy to bring in a new year and all the hope it brings! Kampai, and I wonder what great finds we will bring to the world this year......A traditional okazari-ornament hanging on my front door in Numazu, and other scenes from my Dec.31st day here, moutain shrines in my neighborhood with traditional new year's decorations, and night at Daichuji Zen temple steps. And now to go play George Harrison's "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)" and walk off to Daichuji to chant the Heart Sutra and ring in the new year, just an hour away.....HNY! BTW, this year is the Year of the Boar and what characteristics a boar possesses can be read here: (Kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu!)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Japan Ceramic Society Mishima Branch Event

The Nihon Toji Kyokai (Japan Ceramic Society) is a Tokyo-based organization with 37 branches nationwide, including one here in Mishima, of which I am a member--and quite naturally the only gaijin (foreigner and, I believe, also the youngest member). We meet every other month and also take a pottery related tour once a year. For the last few years I arranged the visits and it was a strange sight indeed to see me leading a group to Bizen and the Mino region. Last Saturday we held our annual year-end gathering party and that included an auction. Most meetings are more formal with pots being discussed as well as other yakimono-related issues. I thought I'd share a few photos of last week's event to show who my local yakimono friends are and also to show those who've never been to Japan before what an informal banquet looks like, hope you enjoy. The Nihon Toji Kyokai's homepage in Japanese only is at
and a look at past winners and works can be viewed on

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Japan Times article and Skype

Last Thursday an e-mail inteview with Alice and Halsey North about their--and others--fabulous exhibition in New York City appeared in the Japan Times and can be viewed online at
The original I sent was twisted around beyond recognition--I guess editors need something to do--and although the printed version is fine it doesn't portray the emotion in the original.
If you have Skype and would like to call Robert on Skype, he just added a web cam to the gallery and can show you pieces from the gallery live online to anyone interested.
Download Skype at
The photo is of six Ono Kotaro yunomi offered on www.japanesepottery from Friday.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Where's the Hagi?

I just don't get it; why take one of Japan's greatest Tea potting names and then produce high heels? Golden chawan? And vases that would be censored in today's USA, too erotic some may say. I just don't 'get' Miwa KyusetsuXII, and I'm sure he feels the same about me. Anyway, the man is a genius, that is a given for the shere output and variety of his ceramic art, yet where's the Hagi? Read a column I wrote in the Japan Times some years back or if you're lucky--and brave--enough, go see his current exhibition in Okayama at Tenmaya unitil Dec.11th.

Two-Faced in the Sixth century......Haniwa?

We've all run across the type, you know the ones Dylan sings about, 'They smile to your face, but behind your back they hiss.' They seem to be in the news a lot these days, politicians and assassins, yet one double-faced news getter--Japan's first--had me turning heads in today's Japan Times, have a look here:

Friday, December 01, 2006

Magazines Appear and Disappear & and other shards.....

Into December we walk and the trees here in Mishima are all becoming leafless with each north wind gust. A few short snippets of possible interest; 1) The major magazine TOHJIRO has for some reason called it quits with their current issue 48. Started in 1995, TOHJIRO was much more widely available than HONOHO GEIJUTSU and brought many new fans to the ceramic world. I have a feeling the editor had a falling out with the manga-minded publisher and will resurface with a new publication. 2) Speaking of resurfacing, TAIKI has been brought back to life after folding a few years ago after only two issues! So now we have issue three focusing on the potters of Iga and Banko. 3) When I was in Bizen last week to select Miyao Masahiro's work--online now--I was saddened to hear of Masamune Moriyasu's (Satoru) much too early passing, he was 53. One of the best throwers in Bizen, and also a clay fanatic, he had his moments of fame and success only to spiral out of control with uncontrollable drinking. Some of his Momoyama period inspired forms--such as a crane's neck vase--were not mere copies yet were imbued with his passionate Bizen spirit. A shame, as although the new Bizen ceramic leaders are introducing new fantastic forms, Bizen needs Momoyama-inspired *good* potters such as Masamune, and few of them there are. R.I.P. Masamune-sensei. 4) My good friend Richard McMahon is having a painting exhibition at our gallery now and he took a small video of it that can be seen on his blog. Go to the following link and scroll down: 5) A fantastic look at Edo period Nabeshima porcelain is on at the equally fantastic MOA Museum in Atami. Not far from Tokyo, or our gallery, the trip is surely worth it to see the building and view alone, yet these porcelains are some of the finest treasures Japan has ever produced. The exhibition starts Dec.2 and runs until Jan.23. Their homepage in either English or Japanese is and the life and philosophy of its founder Okada Mokichi can be read here