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, October 31, 2007

More Photos of the Raku Kichizaemon Pavilion

RakuXV--Chawan Master Extraordinaire--Museum

Of all the chawan makers in Japan, at the top of the mountain stands alone Raku Kichizaemon XV. His chawan are of such depth in form and firing they have given the term Raku chawan a whole new meaning and dimension. More about his history can be read here:
On September 15th this year a new annex was added to the Sagawa Art Museum on the shore of Lake Biwa--not far at all from Kyoto--and that annex is the Raku Kichizaemon Pavilion. I had the privilege to attend a preview opening and please enjoy a few photos of the magnificent museum that it is. One descends further and further down into a dark, almost vault-like area and then through a thin door; there appears Raku's chado Tea wares. The lightning is dim, the aura surrounding the rooms is one of reverence, and the works on display for the opening exhibition are divine. Yet, I only hope these works get to be used and not enslaved for all eternity behind glass and kept in museum store rooms. For the Sagawa Raku Pavilion I don't think this will be the case as the pavilion also includes two chashitsu-tea rooms. Raku-sensei noted in his speech that he did in fact want folks to use the chashitsu and I'm not sure, yet one may be able to reserve them. Raku also noted this is the first time he designed a chashitsu and that it was a challenging undertaking of which he labored over for years; the end result is truly stunning in the way the rooms incorporate natural lighting and materials, make profound use of space and how the rooms open up to the watery surroundings, and also the religious feeling one gets while meandering throughout the underground structure. For any devotee of Tea a visit to this museum is highly recommended. More information and many photos and such can be viewed at the museum's web site, unfortunately it is in Japanese only: 

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Answers....and a Kouchi Shot

For those who may have wondered what the ranking order was for the previous post, well thanks
for waiting; believe it or not...number one was Arita-yaki. Most of what passes as Arita-yaki is mass-produced tableware sold at setomono shops and department stores throughout Japan. That certainly is better then buying 100 yen plates from China! Following in order after Arita are Kutani, Bizen(yeah!), Hagi, Shigaraki, Kyo-yaki/Kiyomizu-yaki, Mashiko-yaki, Mino-yaki, Seto-yaki and last, but certainly not least, is Karatsu-yaki. Anyone score 100%? The photo is of two Oribe works by Kouchi Hidetoshi; we'll be having his exhibition online and here in our Mishima gallery starting next week......

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nippon Ichi--The Best in Japan

Nippon Ichi--the best in Japan--is a phrase often heard or seen; for example, driving not far from Mishima where our gallery is we come to a small town in the Izu peninsula that has a sign that reads 'Nippon Ichi beautiful town! Or, in a past issue of the gourmet magazine they had a whole issue devoted to Nippon Ichi, the best sushi restaurant, the best bakery....glad to say the best beer is my local favorite Baird beer! Anyway, Asahi Newspaper has been running a Nippon Ichi series recently and one column was devoted to Nippon Ichi for pottery; here not necessarily meaning the best, yet the the most popular top ten. A total of 17,221 folks took part in the survey and the results were listed in the column, photos shown here. I will let you try to figure out the kanji--next to the number is the pottery style and then in parenthesis the prefecture where the style is located -- and post the results in a near future blog. Good luck! The number on the far right is how many people voted for the style and the gentleman seen is Nakajima Seinosuke, a former antique dealer now TV celebrity for an appraisal program. By the way, the next Nippon Ichi column planned for the column after this one was Nippon Ichi wine, a short list for sure. The photo of the kiln is that of Sakaida KakiemonXIV...hint..hint....