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

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mitsu no Keshiki

Iga has three famous 'landscapes' (mitsu no keshiki) famous since the 16th century, these are scorch markings (koge), a natural flowing vitrified glaze (biidoro - after the Portuguese word for glass vidoro) which sometimes stops to form a globule called a "dragonfly eye," and hi-iro or 'fire tones' on the clay surface. Here is a 'dragonfly's eye' and hi-iro up-close on a Fujioka Shuhei jar. His exhibition runs thru Oct.31st.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Nice Online Article......

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Talking Yakimono With Steve Jobs

At one MacWorld some years back in Tokyo I got a call from the Tokyo Apple HQ
office asking if I would be interested to take Steve around looking at
ceramic art; at the time I was the ceramic art columnist for the Japan
Times. Sure, I think I could find some time I said.

A few days later I get another call saying Steve wanted to do it and
that I should meet him at the Hotel Okura at this day and time; and they
also primed me on what he likes, what he doesn't like, what pisses him
off, what to avoid, this and that, like I was meeting the President of
the Universe. Sure, I said...I can do that; I've met plenty of famous
people and to me they're all people first, period.

And Steve was. He was nothing that the HQ warned me about; he was down-to-earth,
easy to talk with, passionate and engaged in the works we saw. And we
saw some treasures; a 16th century majestic Shigaraki jar in perfect
condition, a masterpiece 20th century sculpture by Yagi Kazuo, and we
also climbed into the attic of a renowned collector-scholar. It was funny,
because when we entered this person's house there was not a pot to be seen.
Hey, we don't have much time I said, as HQ said something like only two
hours and Steve had to be back, so I requested we forgo the tea and small
talk and simply touch the clay. So this guy takes a stick and pokes it
into the ceiling and down comes a flimsy ladder. Steve bolted up it like
a kid climbing into his first tree house and we saw another room of
treasures. He was delighted.

Back in the limo he said how he was inspired by the organic and rolling
curves of the ancient stoneware jars and even got some design hints from
their shoulders for computers.

"Sublime, these works are all so sublime and not in your face, they
allude to greater beauty, I enjoy that," he said, a few times....sublime.

After about five hours we returned to the Okura, the staff were
trembling, did something happen, was he over-the-top pissed off?

Not at all, he was enraptured by all the timeless beauty he saw.

A few days later the Tokyo staff called---they were always on pins and
needles when Steve was in town I heard--to say he left Japan the
happiest they had ever seen him and part of that was due to our magic

Steve has left this world--yet has enriched our lives
so very, very deeply that it's almost impossible to put into words; his
life was sublime and profound as well.

Sayonara Steve, thanks so much for that sublime afternoon. Thanks for
the Japanese name card too.........blessings abound. Sayonara, such a life, such an impact, such a vision, such a man.