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

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mashiko's Harvey Young Exhibition in Ube, Yamaguchi

Just a quick exhibition note, the ever-talented Mashiko-based potter Harvey Young is having a large--hear close to 400 pieces--exhibition at Arts and Crafts Galaxy Fukunaga (phone 0836-31-0085) in Ube, Yamaguchi prefecture from June 2-June 11. Harvey's been at the wheel and every other essential studio station for the past few months preparing and the DM card shows him in his preparation dash. The gallery does not have a web page. At home I very much enjoy using a Young beer mug with stamped turtle, it has a delightful amber ame-yu glaze that makes it look like it's already filled with a Guiness; cheers Harvey and break a leg! (Harvey's web page can be viewed at

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Tokoname Visitors Guide Book

A neat little paperback guide book found its way into my lap last week (thanks Wali) and it would do most potting centers here good to produce similar publications. The small, ancient clay center of Tokoname is reaching out to English speaking-reading visitors with its 'Tokoname/A Cultural Guide' that within its 95 pages basically tells us all we need to know to enjoy the spots in and around town. I won't mention the contents for they're listed on the cover, see photo. Inquiries for a copy should be sent to Dan Kamiya at Wali Hawes web page can be viewed at

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mori Togaku Receives Medal with Purple Ribbon

Bizen ceramic artist Mori Togaku was recently given the high honor of being awarded the Medal with Purple Ribbon (Shijuhosho), which recognizes outstanding achievements in arts, academics and sports. The award will be given to Mori by the emperor today, May 17th. More about the award can be found here:
To my knowledge ceramic artists who have recieved this award are Itaya Hazan, Tomimoto Kenkichi, Kondo Yuzo, Kaneshige Toyo and Hamada Shoji.
More about Mori can be found on; needless to say he is a major Bizen artist and one I deeply respect.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Yokoyama Naoki's "Bizen Marbled Clay' Delights Online Exhibition

We are very pleased and delighted to share Yokoyama Naoki's "Marbled Clay Delights" exhibition that be online until May 31st at Yokoyama was born and raised in Osafune, the neighboring town to Bizen and home to many Bizen potters as well as being famous for Bizen swords, of which Yokoyama's family also has roots. His father--Shusui--is also a Bizen potter. Naoki studied at the Bizen Ceramic Center starting in 1991 before going under the wing of Kawabata Fumio--one of Bizen's 'clay pioneers' for helping introduce a new style of Bizen called shizen-nerikomi. Shizen means natural/nature while nerikomi is a multiple layered clay---usually two kinds---that create a marbled effect. This is quite a difficult style to create as the clay is brittle and cracks easily during firing, yet the successful pieces exude a profound sense of beauty and warmth. Yokoyama of course also fires traditional Bizen styles in his noborigama and we are also offering some of these as well, yet our focus is on shizen-nerikomi as it's not that well known outside of Japan and certainly represents a new wave in Bizen's long and celebrated history. Yokoyama established his own studio in 2000. One photo is not a Yokoyama creation--of course--yet one of our world's greatest mountains and energy points, the photo was taken about 7pm last Friday as I was flying down to Izumo.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Bizen Saikumono Master Isezaki Yozan

Isezaki Yozan (1902-1961) was one of Bizen's greatest 20th century saikumono-sculptor potters. In Taisho 8 (1919) he entered the famous saikumono Bizen workshop of Korakuen (Kimura Chojiro) before establishing his own kiln in Showa 8 (1933). He was designated an Okayama Prefectural Intangible Cultural Property in Showa 29 (1954); other Bizen potters designated with him that year included Kaneshige Toyo and Fujiwara Kei, both were to become Living National Treasures. In his younger years Kaneshige was also a gifted saikumono potter. Isezaki is also the father of current Living National Treasure Isezaki Jun and his elder brother Mitsuru; if you are a Bizen fan then you surely know the Isezaki family. A few years ago a very small 'museum' was opened just across the street from Mitsuru's wonderful gallery-home featuring some fabulous Yozan works on the second floor. For anyone visiting Bizen and wanting to see a part of Bizen's history that few know about then a visit is highly recommended.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Okada Yu/New Yamaguchi Prefecture Intangible Cultural Property

Congratulations are in order for the humble Hagi ceramic artist Okada Yu(formely Yutaka, b.1946.) as he was recently designated a Yamaguchi Prefecture Intangible Cultural Property. I've visited him many times taking visiting groups there and he always explains how he never wanted to be a potter and left the countryside to attend prestigious Keio University in Tokyo. After working for a company upon graduation he then realized a cramped neon life was not for him. He's now the eighth master of Senshu-gama. Some more about Okada and the history of his kiln can be read here:

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Japanese Ceramic Magazines/Current Issues

The two best and influential quarterlies--Honoho Geijutsu and Tohjiro--have recently released their current issues. HG's cover story is on Arita porcelains and features works by the two -mons, Imaemon and Kakiemon of the current generations. Interviews with both are found as well as dozen of photos; a look at what to see in Arita is also featured. Other features include lokos at Yoshikawa Masamichi and Kaneko Jun as well as Miyake Yoji's 'ceramic lesson' series. Tohjiro's cover story is about guinomi-sake cups and as always will surely prove to be a popular issue as guinomi are collected here with a fevered passion. The second feature of Tohjiro looks at how Japanese ceramics are fairing overseas and I was very honored to be part of this section. Outside of our gallery here in Mishima, New York City was the focal point with an insightful essay by Joan Mirviss and photos of Kato Tsubusa's exhibition at Dai Ichi; all in all Japanese ceramics are very much the talk of the town around the world and the interest is only going to grow. Both magazines can be ordered online at