navbar topSite MapEmail UsPhoto Tours

eStore English Homepage

2004 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






February 2004


JCS Awards; Furutani Michi Book

-- Japan Ceramic Society Awards
-- Mihara Ken Book
-- Furutani Michi Anagama Book
-- Wali Workshop
-- Okada Yutaka-Ono Kotaro News
-- Uraguchi Masayuki Exhibition
-- Reference Sites
-- New Articles and Works

Japan Ceramic Society Awards
The Japan Ceramic Society celebrated 50 years this past month with a spirited sake utensil theme exhibition in Tokyo. Many of the past winners of their prestigious award toasted the exhibition with examples of their guinomi (sake cups) and tokkuri (flasks). Others also shared some of the treasures from their private collections, including ancient Chinese, Korean and past Living National Treasure's works. Many photos of the event are up on e-y net at

Winners of JCS Award and Gold Prize were announced and they are:

JCS Award goes to Maeta Akihiro (1954-). Maeta is based in Tottori prefecture and specializes in hakuji or white porcelain. He's exhibited throughout Japan and was part of a large group exhibition at the Craft Gallery, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo in 1996. Maeta's work is often faceted in gentle lines and curves that highlight shadows and light. As stated in the exhibition catalog "New Expressions in Porcelain: Developments in the 1900s:" "In Maeta's pieces, the dull finish, subduing the shine of the pottery, creates subtle tones in the bluish white of a snowy day on the smooth surface. Seldom do Maeta's pots open outward but instead close in at the opening, as if to hold the power within as he pursues an expression of self-contemplation that can be seen in a recent work called Enkan."

(2) JCS Gold Prize was given to Tsuboi Asuka (1932-). Tsuboi is one of Japan's veteran female ceramic artists and has played a large role in opening up the field to other women. In 1957 she formed the "Women's Ceramic" group that included only six other members. Believe it or not, the group is still around and Tsuboi is its leader and only original member. She often works in muted purple tones these days creating organic shapes glazed with silver, on which atop rests a silver or gold green pepper. She studied with Tomimoto Kenkichi who urged her to do all the work herself, which she continues to do to this day.

(3) To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the JCS founding, a special award was given to Hagi Living National Treasure Miwa Jyusetsu.

Mihara Ken Book
"Myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energies of the cosmos pour into human manifestation," wrote Joseph Campbell in "Hero With a Thousand Faces." Indeed, the myths have mostly been lost in our lives and some have been taken as literal events. This is what accounts for so much pain and suffering in our world today (read J. Campbell and find out why). We need myths, unexplainable by science, to nourish our souls and allow our minds to understand that we cannot understand "it" all. An artist's job is to assist in this discovery and very few have done it better than ceramic artist Mihara Ken. His work evokes a feeling of a lost Japan, one where gods and man dwelled together, say in the Heian period or even before all the way back to Jomon. A beautiful new book celebrating Mihara's works and the myths of his birthplace was recently published here and the title is "Ceramic Art of Mihara Ken in the Four Seasons of Izumo." From the bi-lingual book:

"Izumo is the ancient name for a regional area of Shimane prefecture, located in western Japan and situated next to the Sea of Japan. Nearly 1300 years ago, the Japanese government ordered all local governments to record special products, topography and ancient folk tales and Shinto myths of their respective regions. 'Izumo-no-kuni-Fudoki' is one of these recorded legends."

The book intertwines color photos of Mihara's works in natural settings around Izumo with tales and myths from the Izumo-no-kuni-Fudoki. Featured are 56 works all in color. Mihara writes in one of many essays, "According to myth, Izumo was a place where the Shinto gods, during the month of October, congregated from all parts of Japan. I believe traces of such a past still remain in Izumo." And I'd like to reiterate in Mihara's works as well. The book can be ordered online at:

Furutani Michi Anagama Book
As many of you might have read on e-y net, I am a huge fan of the late great Furutani Michio. He created some of the finest Shigaraki and Iga works the world has ever seen. They were full of spirit, grace, pure forms and immaculate firings. Furutani was a kiln master par none and, fortunately, he was not the secretive type. He shared his kiln wisdom with others through a book, which is now available in English. Here is what American potter Dick Lehman ( sent me to share with you:

"Anagama kilns are mysterious. Raw clay - dry, brittle, delicate - enters the kiln. A slowly building fire gradually transforms the pieces encased within the kiln walls into strong, colorful, richly textured works. It is as if some magic is worked inside the kiln, a magic that is as alluring today as it was ages ago when it was thought that kiln gods wrought this magic. Even if we know that chemistry and physics similar to geologic forces is the hand that transforms, it is hard to stand in front of a newly opened anagama, and not feel the presence of the old kiln gods. But the transformative power of the anagama is not the only mystery surrounding these kilns. In the west, there has been almost no practical "how-to" information regarding building and firing these kilns. This is a mystery that has been solved with the monumental efforts of Furutani Michio (Shigaraki, Japan) an acknowledged master of anagama kiln techniques. Furutani's book, "Anagama: Building Kilns and Firing," was published in Japan in 1993, and now, it's English translation is available. Furutani covers all aspects of kiln construction - from site selection to traditional Japanese building methods. His section on firing has the potential to significantly expand one's wood-fire vocabulary. A term like "ash glaze" is but a generalization, in the same way that "clay" is a generalization. Furutani devotes much energy to explaining how to achieve various effects through kiln design, loading procedures, and firing techniques. With 204 pages, over 220 B&W photographs, over 40 line drawings, and 4 color plates, this is the most detailed and extensive source of anagama information available. As a testimony of the value of Furutani's teachings, Odin Maxwell, a person who had never fired let alone even seen anagama, was able to build and successfully fire an anagama using Furutani's book as a guide."

Note: Three people worked on the translation. Shiori Noro translated the text from Japanese to English. Dick Lehman provided technical expertise and editing but most significantly, he developed a glossary of firing terms for the book after personally researching the subject in Japan. Odin Maxwell successfully convinced Dick and Shiori to work on the project and edited the raw translation.

To learn more about this book and how to order please visit Odin Maxwell here:

From Wali Hawes:
Workshop in Sugitani, Komono-cho, Mie-ken
Dates April 24 and 25, 2004

Seventh in the series of Clay Monographs will deal with the building and firing of the following kilns:

-- Wood-fired bottle kiln. The bottle kiln originates from Stoke-on-Trent in England. But since 1980 I have built and fired many such kilns in the UK, Spain and India. We will build and wood fire glaze pottery with slips with this type of kiln.

-- Paper kiln. This is the true paper kiln. Wood-fired we experiment with different types of combustibles, terra sigilatta, burnishing and slips.

-- "The Wall." A kiln built in the form of a long, hollow wall is wood fired. The 'wall' acts as a form of large "Sagger." Surface treatment and the use of coal play a significant part in this firing.

-- Anagama-type paper kiln. Following on from some work being done here in Japan, we will be building a kiln not unlike an anagama in principle but using the "paper kiln" technique in the construction.

-- Other areas of work include suitable types of clays for firing, slips, terra sigilatta, glazes and surface treatment.

-- For further information contact Wali Hawes (e-mail in English and Spanish. Japanese email address is

Okada Yutaka
Ono Kotaro
Some brief news includes Hagi potter Okada Yutaka formally taking on the eighth generation title of his families kiln; Seiun-zan Okada-gama. In doing so he has changed his name and is now Okada Yu. Also, porcelain specialist Ono Kotaro recently won a Bronze Award for his truly magnificent paperweights-bunchin. These are not your ordinary desk flotsam yet real works of art. I have one on my desk and they are a joy to behold and touch. The award was in the 17th Industrial & Human Design Competion in Hokkaido. Congratulations to both of these fine ceramic artists, and very nice folks to boot.

Uraguchi Masayuki Exhibition
Our next world debut exhibition here in Mishima and online will start on March 19 for two months. We'll be featuring about 70 works from celadon ceramic artist Uraguchi Masayuki. Uraguchi studied with current Living National Treasure Miura Koheiji and established his own kiln in Ibaraki prefecture. He is a glaze fanatic and had created his own prismatic glazes that, well, wait and see. A brief look at his Mitsukoshi Tokyo exhibition can be viewed here until the end of February:

Also the works of Kumano Kuroemon and Ohira Kazumasa can be viewed here until the end of Feb. Kumano was at Takashimaya in January while Ohira showed at Kandori just last week:

Reference Sites
Here are three good sites to look for information on Kutani, export wares, and posting items for identification, respectively:

New Articles and Works
Aoyama Wahei has written some very insightful reviews recently and they can be viewed on One is a critical look at a roundtable discussion that was featured in a leading ceramic journal here. A soon to be posted article will look at the Living National Treasure system, look for that article early next week. He also wrote a feature on Tamba sensation Ichino Masahiko. A few Ichino works are being offered on He was rated as one of the most influential ceramic artists in Japan today by Honoho Geijutsu. You can see the full list at at:

Recent additions at include Hori Ichiro's crispy Ki-Seto jar and chawan, a rare Nakamura Baizan circa 1965 'dragon' jar, new works by Kouchi Hidetoshi and Koinuma Michio, amongst others.

Lastly, we've added a new face here in Mishima. Her name is Shioya Yukari and she'll be taking over our packing and shipping department. She lives nearby here after spending four years at university in Beijing. Her email address is

And to close with another Joseph Campbell quote from an interview with Bill Moyers:

BILL MOYERS: Do you ever have the sense of being helped by hidden hands?

JOSEPH CAMPBELL: All the time. It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time - namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.

Robert Yellin
Questions and comments should be direted to Robert Yellin at To email Robert, click the "Email Us" button at top of page.


Copyright 2001

Our Address and Contact Numbers

pot logo tiny

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