navbar topSite MapEmail UsPhoto Tours

eStore English Homepage

2003 Newsletter Archive



                   Written by Robert Yellin

View the NEWSLETTER Archive
Click here to
return to top
page about

The Free Newsletter was officially discontinued in December 2005.

We do not and
will not share your
information with
other companies
or individuals. We
promise to protect
your privacy.




top story index






March 2003


Japan Ceramic Society Awards

- New Japan Ceramic Society Prize Winners
- Anagama On-line video
- Kato Yasukage's gaikoku debut and Asia Week
- Asian Art Forum

New Japan Ceramic Society Prize Winners
At the recent Japan Society Awards exhibition, the JCS's Board of Directors announced this year's winners of their prestigious JSC Prize and Gold Prize. Drum roll (or some fast whisked matcha sound) please. And this year's JCS Prize goes to Bizen's Kaneshige Yuho, while the Gold Prize was awarded to Kyoto's Yanagihara Mutsuo. A little about each is shown below.

Kaneshige Yuho
Kaneshige was born in 1950 in Okayama, the third son of Kaneshige Sozan (1909-1996). Sozan was a younger brother of Kaneshige Toyo (1896-1967) who was named a Living National Treasure in 1956 for his spectacular Bizen wares. Sozan was well known, and part of a "purists scandal" when in 1964 he started using an electric kiln to create Bizen's famed fire-cord hidasuki markings. Soon the fury died down and now Sozan's way is an accepted practice. Yuho, of course, follows in his father's footsteps and took over the beautiful compound after Sozan's passing. The pottery is located in a small forest in Bizen City near the ruins of the Muromachi-era South O-gama. Yuho, like his cousin Kosuke, studied sculpture at the Musashino Art University in Tokyo before returning to his father's side. He makes some very abstract handled dishes as well as works where he wants to make the clay body paper-thin. He has a fine sense and exhibits regularly at Kochukyo and Takashimaya. His elder brother Makoto is also a fine potter as well.

Yanagihara Mutsuo
Yanagihara (1934-) hails from Koichi Prefecture and is not only a very innovative artist but also a great teacher. Part of his willingness to share so much might be in part that he studied under Tomimoto Kenkichi (1886-1963), who was possibly the greatest Japanese ceramic teacher of the 20th century. Yanagihara has challenged the meaning of Oribe and has fashioned some very thoughtful and modern works, which he's termed Gold, Silver, or Red Oribe. A few works can be seen on or a search on will turn up quite a few matches. You might even be able to catch Yanagihara at a workshop somewhere in the US.

Anagama Online Video
A few years back there was an international wood-fired conference held at the University of Iowa. I was fortunate enough to attend with my traveling partner Kakurezaki Ryuichi, and it certainly was an eye-opener for both of us. I will not say in a positive or negative way. A film crew was on hand and they spoke with many of the wood-fire gurus there and I recently found the finished video online! It's titled "Recording the Flame" and was produced by Deep Mountain Arts. It features Kanzaki Shiho, Matsuyama Suketoshi, Jeff Shapiro, Jack Troy, and Chuck Hindes, amongst many others. As I was watching it I saw some images that I had taken and quietly shouted, "Hey, those are from my site!" The video is very professionally done and as so I was given credit in the appropriate section. So, grab a cup of ocha or a choko full of sake and kick back for the 40-minute video that can be accessed here:

If you'd like to order a video or DVD or would like more information about the video please visit the Deep Mountain Arts website at

Kato Yasukage
New York City Debut and Asia Week
This week in New York City is Asia Week, where some of the world's finest dealers show their treasures. There is always much happening and I don't think anyone can take it all in. A list of activities, including large exhibitions and private showings can be viewed here:

One of the highlights for sure will be Mino's Kato Yasukage's first gaikoku (foreign) debut. He'll be showing at the International Asian Art Fair at the Seventh Regiment Armory (Park Avenue at 67th St) from March 28 to April 2, 2003. You can find him in one of the world's finest Japanese art dealer's booth, that of Joan B. Mirviss (learn more at Kato will be showing his strong sculputural Oribe works as well as Shino chadogu (chadogu means "tea utensils").

In the beautiful pamphlet Mirviss has put together she writes: "Powerful forms and exquisitely pure glazes characterize Kato's seemingly traditional ware. His work reveals a remarkable assimilation of traditional aesthetics that is redefined within a modern and highly personal oeuvre. His smaller functional works are a joy to hold, always perfectly balanced, sensuous to the touch and dazzling in the richness of his glazes." I can attest to that.

Life has been very hard for the 38 year-old Kato. He lost his father young and was sent off to study in Bizen -- yet the story of artistic greatness often has such trials. Kato's work would surely make his ancestors proud. Some images of Kato and his work can also be seen here:

Asian Art Forum
Each day my mailbox is deluged with requests for identifications and appraisals. I often send folks elsewhere, for most of the inquiries are for export wares -- which I know nothing about - or for items like elephant teapots with little green monkeys on top. Ok, we all have our own tastes, and indeed diversity is what makes life all the more interesting. So, if you have some item that you need kanji or identification with, may I direct you to two web sites that may be of assistance. One is the Gotheborg list of marks, often found on export porcelain wares. That site is located here:
The site is also a fine resource for Chinese wares.

The other is an open message board found on the Asian Art Forums HP, and that can be accessed here:

Well, that about does it from this fine Wednesday here in Mishima. A few closing things include the recent issue of DARUMA magazine ( where my article on Okabe Mineo, Kamoda Shoji, and Tsuji Seimei can be read. These are legendary ceramic artists and anyone interested in Japanese ceramics should find out why. Also, some fine items to be listed on in the coming days included a fine hachi by Koie Ryoji, a Bizen chaire by Isezaki Mitsuru, a box by Kawai Takeichi (Bunichi), a Bizen platter by Fujiwara Ken and some other delights -- do have a look when time is on your side.

"So I watch with total amazement the goings-on of the world. I see all these people commuting, driving cars like maniacs to get to an office where they are going to make money -- for what? So that they can go on doing the same thing, and very few of them enjoy it. Sensible people get paid for playing -- that is the art of life."
Alan Watts.

As always: a deep bow of appreciation from Mishima.

Robert Yellin


Copyright 2001

Our Address and Contact Numbers

pot logo tiny

Home | e-Store | Who's Who | What's What | Where | Guidebook | Newsletter | About Us