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, June 20, 2011

Sad News; The Passing of Utsumi Teiko

One day I'll never forget is the first time I stepped into the Mingeikan Folk Craft Museum in Tokyo; the majestic building has a presence as a house of immense soul and beauty. It was truly a profound visit and for any who have not visited the Mingeikan before I hope you have the chance to do so before that final breath. Of which, I'm very sad to say, the lovely and gracious Utsumi Teiko, took the other day; she passed away June 16th from cancer at the age of 79; the Japanese press had a short spot on it: Utsumi-san served as international director of the museum for many years and was the mother of the equally gracious and lovely Mimura Kyoko, also a great ambassador for the Mingeikan. On my first visit to the Minkeikan many years ago, Utsumi-san took me into the director's office and much to my great surprise was my Japan Times column pasted to the wall; "not in a very long time has someone written such a poignant and spot-on article about this museum," she told me. I was extremely moved to hear that. I'm sure that for all who had the honor to have met her you know how I feel when I say she was a shining light for the Mingeikan and will be missed very much. My condolences to her family and to all who were touched by Utsumi Teiko, I for one was very deeply.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Shigaraki and Tanuki

The other day while my good friend Mark Schumacher--who was visiting from his base in Kamakura--were having lunch at Omen I got an email from the gallery that a tanuki was napping in the gallery garden! Now as many know when one visits Shigaraki any which way one turns their head a tanuki will appear in all shapes and sizes, unfortunately. Mark also runs the world's greatest web site on Japanese gods, goddesses, Shinto Kami, creatures and demons, and his entry all about tanuki can be read here: My visiting tanuki was on the rather thin side and someone suggested I place some sake and nibbles out for him(her), yet not sure I fancy him(her) coming around again, possibly along with family and friends. Yet I have a feeling that's bound to happen anyway, along with some other critters. Maybe it was the vintage Shigaraki pot I placed in the garden a few weeks ago that got their attention.......?!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Enjoying the New Look.....

Here in the new Kyoto-old house--the lighting and ambiance make for some great backdrops for the stunning works we offer; please see the attached photos to see what I mean. Lots of rain today, small clouds float over the Higashiyama mountains, just like the old days, say 860 or so? Heading to a special Nara potter this weekend, look for some selected works on the web gallery early next week. Yoroshiku from Kyoto.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Traditonal Gallery Sign

Kato Takahiko carved a wood plaque to place above our gallery entrance; Gin-Ro-An--Silver Dew Hermitage (retreat, hut). Kato, of course, is a truly talented Shigaraki potter, yet he is also a craftsman of the highest level: if ever in Shigaraki please do visit his studio in the center of town he recently built as well.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

More Gallery Photos-Kyoto

The other day we added new lighting to the gallery and you can view many more photos of the truly splendid setting in this link: In the past we took photos on a photo stand, yet from now on--mostly--we'll be using the house as a backdrop. Please do visit the gallery online often or stop on by if ever in Kyoto.