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

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Iizumi ImaemonXIV Tokyo Exhibition

Nabeshima porcelain is without a doubt one of the most regal and important porcelain styles the world has ever known. Started in the early Edo period it was a product only fit for lords and their favored friends. Nabeshima continues on today, for any peasant too who can afford it, and a 14th generation Nabeshima master is Iizumi Imaemon (b.1962, his father the 13th was a Living National Treasure.) The 14th generation Imaemon is bringing a fresh design sense to his works after having studied with Sodeisha founder Suzuki Osamu and then with his father. His first Wako exhibition will be held in Tokyo, Ginza from Nov.5th-12th.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Walk in the Park....

A walk in the park, Sunday morning....what can be more delightful. These days I find these walks even more needed, getting off the couch (where I rarely am anyway), away from the computer (where I am almost always in front of), and surely away from the 'dark cloud' news that if one stands under too long imagined rain falls. Better to not let the media affect ones mood too much and rejoice in nature and art. So, I enjoy these walks so much, and some have seen photos on the gallery, I thought I'd share a few photos from last Sunday's walk, where I discovered a tribute lawn party to the past poet Wakayama Bokusui. How cool is Japan, tea and shakuhachi in the park, kimono and poems, sake and song. The park is called Senbon (Thousand Trees, yet many more!) and is located next to Suruga Bay in Numazu city. As I walked by the party a few minutes down the path I heard a haunting voice. A lone man sat on a rock amidst the pines and was singing in a low powerful voice, each note hung in the air, full of energy and also a sweet sadness. It really was a magical performance.
All in the blink of time, a place within of calm, here and now.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Watanabe Akihiko--New Kiln--Brick by Brick.....

It's really cold in Hirashimizu, Yamagata Prefecture in the winter, that's an area of Japan many simply refer to as 'snow country.' Not the best place to be a potter come that frosty season, and maybe which is why there are so few old traditional kilns in that region; the one exception--although not that old for Japan starting in Bunka 1804-18---being Hirashimizu-yaki with its veteran potter whose work I greatly admire, Niwa Ryochi. Watanabe Akihiko (b.1959) was born in Yamagata and became a potter at Hirashimizu from 1983; he's best known for his elequent seiji-celadon pottery, which has been shown all over Japan. Now that time has crept along as it so naturally does and all the aches that it might also bring, Watanabe has headed south. South to my neighborhood so to speak, in a small country town called Kannami, about a 30 minute drive from our gallery here in Mishima; both towns are located in Shizuoka prefecture. So, a big clay move also involves building a new kiln and yes it's easier to simply fire seiji in a gas kiln, simply ordered and installed. Yet Watanabe is only one of a very rare group that continues--like the late great Okabe Mineo--to fire seiji in a wood-burning kiln. Last week I visited the kiln in progress and share the photos with you. It's a kiln design to his own requirements, meaning that he's building it specifically to get some yohen effects, like those seen on Okabe's legendary seiji masterpieces. First kiln unloading should be next February. Here's a link to a few of his guinomi that were fired in Hirashimizu:

Friday, October 03, 2008

Nothing to do with Pottery, only about Peace

My father's new book, please do read it: