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

Friday, March 23, 2007

Honami Koetsu Black Raku Chawan--Shigure

Last week in the Asahi Newspaper was an article about recently named National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties and on the list was a Jomon Dogu named a NT and a Honami Koetsu Raku chawan named Shigure, which means drizzle or shower in late autumn or early winter, was named a ICP. The article from the Asahi can be found here:

Photo courtesy of The Asahi Shimbun and Koetsu chawan photo from Nihon Toji Zenshu, Vol.22, published by Chuokonronsha, 1977, authored by Hayashiya Seizo.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Okabe Mineo Retrospective Photos

The opening to the wonderful Okabe Mineo exhibition was on March 5th with the opening for the general public the following day. The opening was very well attended and I was able to get there before almost anyone else and took quite a few photos, of which a few are seen here. The exhibition is divided into three sections; his early Mino inspired works, Tenmoku and lastly his extraordinary celadon. The catalog was well done and we're offering a few copies at It was interesting to note the authors skirted much of the poverty and controversy that surrounded Okabe's, mentioning very little about his father Kato Tokuro, his name change, the Enin Scandal and his battles with juried exhibits. Nonetheless, for any fan of Japanese ceramics the catalog is a very welcome addition to any library. The energy of his work---especially his ash-glazed Jomon pieces---the most magnificent one pictured here--and his crackled celadon left me speechless, awed. An article on the exhibition will appear in The Japan Times on April 5th.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

New Japan Ceramic Society Award Winners Announced

Since the mid 1950s the Japan Ceramic Society(Nihon Toji Kyokai) has given out its prestigious society award and the even greater gold award; a almost complete list can be found on The winners of the JCS Award and Gold Award were recently announced and they are for the gold Seto veteran Kato Kiyoyuki, an Aichi prefecture first. Kato has essayed large sculptural works as well as ash-glazed vessels. The JCS award went to Kutani's Takegoshi Jun and Hagi's Miwa Kazuhiko. Takegoshi creates porcelain vessels that often depict whimisical creatures from a master's brush; they are a delight to behold. Miwa--son of Jusetsu and brother to KyusetsuXII--also has expaneded Hagi's Tea world with gold-winged chawan and tuning fork-shaped giant vessels. Interesting to note there were other potters in contention for the awards were; for gold: Koie Ryoji(placed second), Nakazato Takashi, Tokuda Yasokichi, Fukami Sueharu, Hara Kiyoshi, Miwa Kyusetsu, Hirakawa Testuo, Sakaida Kakiemon, Furukawa Shozo, Kakurezaki Ryuichi, Sakaki Masatoshi and Maeda Akihiro. For the JCS Award those whose names were tossed about by the dozen or so judges were Sugiura Yasuyoshi was tops, followed by Fukushima Zenzo, Nakashima Hiromi, Mihara Ken, Kato Tsubusa, Kubota Yasuyoshi, Kondo Takahiro, Uchida Koichi, Katsumata Chieko, Sakiyama Takayuki, Kaneko Jun, Nishihata Tadashi, and Matsumoto Hideo. The award is certainly a major achievement for any artist and their name joins a list of many legends.