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, November 20, 2009

The Power of Iga--Fujioka Shuhei's Exhibition

We are excited to announce and share previews of our third
Fujioka Shuhei exhibition here at our gallery in Mishima. Iga ceramic artist Fujioka Shuhei
(b.1947) possesses the power to make mountains out of clay. He
then fires his bold creations in an anagama to 'fire-brush' on
mossy green, blue and gray natural ash glazes. These captivating
colors contrast and highlight the rich clay flavor and hi-iro
(fire color) that Iga is world-renowned for, as well as the koge
scorch colors (Iga has three famous keshiki-landscapes of hi-iro,
koge and bidoro-glass). Iga is one of those magical medieval
styles that speaks volumes of the Zen-inspired ways that are to
be found within Tea-pottery; Fujioka understands this. His heart
is pure and he loves the earth at his feet, whether it is for his
clay works, or the vegetables he grows in the fields. Like
potters of old, he too is a farmer and listens to the teachings
that nature whispers in his ears. In a nutshell, after graduating
college Fujioka went to work for a production kiln in Seto. Yet
upon seeing a Ko-Iga piece, he then knew there was no other style
for him. He apprenticed with Tanimoto Kosei before establishing
his own kiln in 1975. He's had countless solo exhibitions
throughout Japan and has been featured in numerous publications.
Fujioka is to Iga what Harada and Kakurezaki are to Bizen, except
without all the awards. He's a soft-spoken man, humble and deep;
all these qualities are in his work as well as an awe-inspiring
feel of the power of nature. Fujioka fires a small kiln for three
days and if he gets a one-third success rate for any kiln he
feels it's been a success. The high loss rate is one reason we
find so few Iga potters, it's almost loony--as Fujioka himself
says---to work in Iga with all its hurdles and failures. Yet the
successes are clay jewels, as you'll see for yourself in the
following links. We are extremely pleased to offer the world a
chance to see Fujioka's Iga world online or here at our Mishima
gallery until December 10th.

The exhibition will go online for public viewing on Tuesday of
next week, advance previews available by emailing Robert
via the web gallery at

Saturday, November 14, 2009

In Today's Japan Times