Glazed Pots by Zyubei 3

I first wrote about Shigeru Zyubei in my third article here, all the way back in May 2011, in Glazed Pots by Shigeru Zyubei. Since then, his star has certainly risen, taking first prize in the 2014 Modern Shohin Potters Exhibition at Gafu-Ten for glazed containers.
From Zyubei 2: “His name is 濱田 重章(Shigenori Hamada) and his kiln named Hin Zyubeiei though his pots are commonly referred to simply as Zyubei. He was born in 1946 in Osaka and began creating shohin bonsai in 1972. By 1973, he was teaching classes in shohin at Shunshoen. In 1981, he began making bonsai pots, and purchased an electric kiln in 1989. After retirement in 2009, he began making bonsai pots professionally.”
Zyubei is obsessed with the old Canton Ao(green), Ruri(indigo) and Shiki(multi color) type glazes and has sought to reproduce them in modernity, to great effect. All of the containers(or similar) are available if any of you readers are interested in acquiring a piece(or 3!). Special thanks once again to Rie Aketo for the photos!
Now, On to the pots!


Zyubei’s Gold award winning entry in the 2014 Modern Small Potters Exhibition.


Two sides of a flambé glazed riveted hexagon. Really nice random mottling.

A fantastically thick glazed small square showing multiple colors and some pitting. Vibrantly Tofukujiesque.

For comparison, here is a famous Tofukuji showing similar warmth and glaze.


A very interesting oval! This glaze is utterly unique, and it’s understated swirling complimentary colors are sublime.

A reddish ochre glaze shot through with streaks of black and cream speckles. Another unique Zyubei glaze.

This is one of my favorite Zyubei glazes. A canton style glaze with running multiple blues. Absolutely gorgeous. One can easily see in this container that Zyubei is quickly approaching Tofukuji’s mastery of Canton style glazes.

A green Tofukuji with similar streaking, in Canton style Oribe.



3 different versions of a swirling Kinyo type glaze. Really interesting patterns that come up like reptile skin or swirling water.



Another of my favorite Canton blue style glazes, Ruri. Zyubei’s Ruri type glazes are often shot through with steaks light blue, green, or white, like lightning, or sometimes running water.




Five different versions of another unique Zyubei glaze. This one is like wave crests at night to me, or a starry sky far far away from the city.






And we’ll finish up with something new from Zyubei. These 6 super mini shitakusa containers are made by Zyubei, and painted by his wife, Momoka(百花). Very quaint and charming.
For the last month my free time to work on articles has been greatly taken by travel to clubs near and far to lecture on bonsai containers, so, sorry for the dearth of new articles!
Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be finishing up several, including Imaoka Machinao and Wazyaku, so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

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The 10th Annual Modern Shohin Container Artist Exhibition, Part 2

There were many other artists in this year’s exhibition that deserved note(in fact all of them were excellent). But my time is limited, so here are the entries that most caught my eye.
If you’d like to see the rest of the entries, and read a little more in depth about the artists in this year’s show, this is the Japanese Shohin Bonsai Association’s page for the exhibit:

10th Annual Pottery Exhibition, JSB

Special thanks, Again, go out to Mark and Rita Cooper, Miyazato Rintaro, Koji Yoshida, Dario Mader, and Haruyosi for allowing the use of their images. Thanks Once Again!

Painted Containers




As mentioned in the Part 1, i had another friend whose work was accepted in the exhibit. Ruban Yu is from Taiwan and has been making ceramics for Bonsai since 2008, and painting containers since last year. I’ve followed his painting progression from the beginning, avidly. His work is already excellent for such a short time, and shows great promise for the future. Stay tuned for a full post about Ruban and his work in the near future!

Another favorite of the blog, Echizen Hosui, showed 5 pots in this show. Excellent diversity of form, color, and size. There is an incredible amount of detail for such tiny pieces.

Kutani Ai also showed 5 pots. Excellent detail to these sometsuke pieces. Really fine lines and brushwork. It’s interesting to note that all are appropriately blue(Kutani Ai’s(藍) artist name means “Indigo”).

As always, Takao Koyo’s pots were impressive, and showed off his unique style. Check out the table of contents for a full article on Takao Koyo from last year.


Yuki Shoseki’s entry of 2 containers. Classical Shoseki kiln style paintings: Children and the Choju Giga are popular subjects from both the matriarch, Ishida Shoseki, and Yuki.

Another student of the Shoseki line, the painted pots from Shosui(祥翠) also show the lineage very clearly in both style and subject. This line of female painters is often whimsical and playful.




Multiple entries from Kyougoku Shiho, one of my favorite modern underrated painters. I did an article on him last year. His style is sometimes a little loud, but also very classical, and his dragon paintings are the best traditional Kyo-Yaki style dragons I’ve seen outside of the work of Tsukinowa Yusen.


Interesting entries from Mayu, who often collaborates with Munakata Isso. The former piece is peaceful and quiet, and the latter downright angry. An odd juxtaposition.



Last up for painted pots, we have the entry from female painter and potter Ashikawa Tomoku, who signs her works Yamachi (山ち).
These were some of the most impressive pieces in the exhibition to me, as (see a pattern yet?) she has only been making and painting pots for 2 years. Not only are the pots themselves good: varied shape and form with clean lines, but the paintings are also pretty outstanding for the time involved in BOTH fields. Either one of those skills normally takes many years to master…this is one to watch for in the future.

Unglazed Entries



Of the relief and figure carvers of the current generation, Oya Tadashi(大矢 忠) is the Sruga Yamasyou to Mashi Furumoto’s Zeshin. Tadashi took home top honors in the 2011 Exhibit, and his pots have become highly desirable and collectible since.


Doshita Keishin’s entry this year was excellent, but really nothing new. Excellent calligraphy and clean unglazed clay work are the trademarks of this artist.

The unglazed entry from The Glazed Category Silver award winner Kyushi Jinbo(Jinkozan). These pots were interesting to me, a bit like classical western wooden planters, but in a good way. Unusual colors as well.


The entry from Tani Ranzan. I’m placing it here in the unglazed section because the orchid pot style cascade, while excellent, is really nothing unusual from this renaissance potter. The unglazed figurines, on the other hand…..

Glazed Containers
Here is where the exhibition got really interesting in my opinion. There were 4 artists who are students of Bushuan represented, and many of the other selections reflect a similar, unique, Tofukujiesque style of warm, odd, and one off glazes.
But before we look at those….

This Monkey has Stone Cahones. This is the glazed container entry from Andrew Pearson. Not only did Andrew have the fortitude to enter the competition, and the talent to win, but he had the brass to enter in two categories. Well Done, once again Andy. Very nice and clear single color glazes showing a brightness not often seen in Western bonsai containers.
And If you decide on a new line of “Stone Cahones” pots, Andy, feel free to the name, just send me one, mate.





The entries from yet another favorite of the blog, Shigeru Zyubei. Zyubei was the first pretty well unknown potter I discovered when I started researching Japanese Pots, and since then his work has garnered numerous accolades, including the Gold prize for Glazed containers in last year’s exhibition. The multicolored thickly glazed yellow was one of my personal favorites from this show.
More on Shigeru Zyubei here:
Glazed pots by Shigeru Zyubei
And here:
Glazed Pots by Zyubei 2

Glazed pots by Hisashi(久). Really nice and deep glazes and an interesting variety of form.


Another of the entries from Shigeru Fukuda’s students, a trio from Nanbu Yoshiaki(南部 孝明). Not only are the glazes pretty spectacular(and like the Award Winning entry from Jinkouzan, clearly reminiscent of the teachers’ work) but the carving, clay work, and detailing is very good. Another fresh name to watch closely.


Another trio of very uniquely glazed pieces that show an interesting variety of form. This entry is by Fukuda Tadahiro, who goes by the name Koto Tadahiro(古都忠寛). Excellent antique mirror shaped pieces and very rich, deep, multilayered glazes. The red piece is definitely the best red in this exhibition(or maybe just my personal favorite).

Another student of Bushuan, this entry comes from Jinbo Michiyo, who goes by the name Mi(美). The crackle cream glazed piece is especially nice.


It seems there was a bit of a trend going for students of Fukuda Shigeru, as all included red glazed pieces in their entries. This display from Tomatsuri Isamu is no exception. Very nice work showing a subtle elegance.


The entry from Horie Bikoh. Love them or hate them, one thing you can’t disagree with is that Bikoh has his own unique style. His overglaze enameled pieces are unmistakable, and his clean, sharp clay work is excellent, as you would expect from an apprentice of Heian Kouzan.

Last but not least:

We have this entry from female potter and painter Koide Michiko, who goes by the name Ma(ま). Though it properly belongs up top with the Painted Containers, there is enough to say about this thoughtful entry that it gets a category all it’s own. The artist is a fashion illustrator and designer in Tokyo, and has been creating Mame bonsai and ceramics since 2011.



The theme of the piece, “Coudenhove-Kalergi Photon,” is a reference to Mitsuko Aoyama, one of the first Japanese to immigrate to Europe, in the late 1800s. She married Austrian nobility, Count Heinrich Coudenhove-Kalergi, in Tokyo, in 1896.
The corset, when thus looked at contextually, becomes much more than just a pretentious affected piece. As a historical figure, Mitsuko Aoyama is an interesting choice for subject matter, especially for bonsai ceramics. Japanese art in general, and Bonsai Ceramics in particular, have a long and storied tradition of drawing direct inspiration from legends, other famous artworks, and historical figures, and creating homages to them. For example, Yusen’s interpretation of Ando’s 53 Stations from the last post, or the anthropomorphic animals of the Choju Giga and Fox’s Wedding we’ve seen from many artists in past articles(and in several of the entries above!). In light of that very Japanese tradition, I see this entry as a modern interpretation of classical homage.

Mitsuko and Count Coudenhove-Kalergi

A popular Memoir was published about the countess, a musical was produced as well, and even in Manga, she stars in the book Lady Mitsuko. Note the crane on the fan on the above poster, and on the pots.

Putting aside the seemingly Avant Garde nature of this entry, the pottery and painting work is superb. While not my favorite entry from this exhibition, it certainly ranked, and it’s undeniably the most thought provoking and challenging.
What would you plant in a corset container? I’d go with a fern shitakusa….ferns were all the rage in Europe in Mitsuko’s time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into the 10th Shohin Potters Exhibition!
If you’re in or near any of these areas, I’ll be giving a lecture on Bonsai Containers at the Atlanta Bonsai Society on Saturday, the 24th, at noon, The Bonsai Society of Upstate New York in Rochester, Tuesday the 27th, the Birmingham Bonsai Society February 9th, and the Greater Louisville Bonsai Society February 16th. Come out and see me if you can for a presentation on the History, Appreciation, Classification, and Identification of Bonsai Ceramics! I will have containers for sale and a high quality container will be raffled off at each location.

Thanks for reading!

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The 10th Annual Modern Shohin Container Artist Exhibition, Part 1

Every year I look forward to the images and summary of the Shohin potters exhibition held during Gafu Ten in January and sponsored by the Japan Shohin Bonsai Association. But this year I was anticipating the results something special as I had two friends in the exhibition.
This will be my 4th article on the exhibition, tempus fugit and all that, click on the “Table of Contents” page for the previous articles on the 2012-2014 exhibitions.


Due to the large volume of images and detail photos, I’ve separated this article into two posts, the winners and special exhibitions and other entries. Stay tuned for part two later today.

However, before we take a look at the winners and the exhibition photos, allow me a second to once again congratulate British Potter Andrew Pearson, of Stone Monkey Ceramics, first for having the fortitude to even enter the show(at the clearly right headed urging of Peter Warren and Akiyama San), and second, and foremost, for taking a gold award in the unglazed category. Well done Monkey.
I’d also like to congratulate my friend Ruban Yu of Taiwan for his excellent showing in the exhibition.
Special thanks for permission to use their images for these posts goes out to Mark and Rita Cooper, Miyazato Rintaro, Koji Yoshida, Dario Mader, and Haruyosi. Thanks Again!
Now, on to the pots!

The Award Winners

Unglazed Containers




Andrew Pearson’s Gold award winning unglazed trio. The attention to detail is outstanding, in both the razor sharp lines and relief carvings. The display is very well presented also. Andrew is the first Western Bonsai potter to exhibit at major exhibition in Japan, and certainly the first to take Top Prize. Sure, this site is called Japanese bonsai pots….but anybody who wins a show in Japan qualifies in my book.
More of Andy’s pots can be seen(and purchased) here:
Stone Monkey Ceramics


The Silver Award for unglazed containers went to the artist Hiroshi(宏) Sugiahima Shigehiro, for a trio of stained, or perhaps Matte or slip coated pieces. Very interesting colors and forms to these pieces.


The bronze for unglazed containers was awarded to Yatani Kouhei, who goes by the artist name Ryusai. The containers are especially impressive when one considers that this artist has only been making bonsai and containers since 2012.

Glazed Containers



This year’s top award for Glazed pots went to Shinobu, who some of you may remember from the 9th show, where he took the top prize in UNGLAZED containers! From last years post: “The Gold in unglazed containers was awarded to Shinobu(忍), of the bonsai garden Amemiya-En(雨宮園) in Yamanashi.”
The glazes on these pieces are pretty spectacular, varied, complex, but still very easily usable. Impressive clay work and container shape as well.



The silver award for Glazed pottery went to one of FOUR students of blog favorite Fukuda Shigeru(Bushuan) who were chosen to exhibit in this show. The artist is Kyuji Jinbo , who goes by the names Jinkozan (神久山) or Jinbe(じんべ). He also entered in the unglazed category. Interesting glazes and good looking clay work as well. The red is decidedly reminiscent of his teacher’s clean red glazes.



The bronze award for Glazed pieces went to Matsuda Tsutomu, or 静雲寺. Another bronze award winner whose work is most impressive in the very short length of time spent in the art…3 years in this case.

Painted Containers



Top honors in the painted category went to Yamada Shigetoshi, who goes by the artist name Shun(俊). I’ve written an article about this artist before, here:
Fine details, both in the painting and the varied shapes and feet of the containers, made this display the clear winner.



One of two Kutani area painters in this exhibition, Kutani Aritomo took the silver award for painted porcelain. Very detailed paintings, and excellent clay work in a myriad of shapes. The demon foot piece is especially nice. A little variety in the color could’ve won top honors I think.




Bronze was awarded to Yokotani Toshihide, formerly known as Shuzan, now working under the name Shunhou(俊峯). Shunhou is a former apprentice of Owari Yuhou, who I’ve featured on the blog before. Good variety in shape and color. Excellent pieces.

Special Exhibitions
There were two special entries in this years show, from Veteran potters Ito Gekko and Watanabe Kazuhiro.



Ito Gekko’s special exhibit


Ikkou’s exhibit in the show. A very cool display comprising the four most common classical unglazed natural colors and Ikkou’s own brand:

In order, they are Kurodei(黒泥-black clay), Shidei(紫泥-purple clay), Shirodei(白泥-white/tan clay), Shudei(朱泥-vermillion clay), and Koudei(紅泥-Ikkou’s own Red clay. Actually a little brighter than classical Shudei!).

In addition to the Modern Potters competition, Gafu Ten is also host to a couple of other exhibitions. This year there was an International Shohin photo competition, and congratulations to Mark and Rita Cooper, Pedro Morales, and 張珺理 for their awards. In addition, every year the Shohin bonsai, containers, stands, and stones that are selected and named treasures of Shohin Bonsai are also displayed. Of special note this year were two complete sets of Tsukinowa Yusen’s paintings of Ando’s 53 Stations of the Tokkaido Road.


Yusen’s Tokaido Road containers are composed of 55 painted pots and 5 blank porcelain pieces, to even out to five 12 pot sets. It’s exceptional that two complete sets have remained together.





I hope you’ve enjoyed this first look at the 10th Modern Potters Exhibition!
Stay Tuned, part 2 coming up tomorrow!

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Sharaku was born Masahiro Shimotori(霜鳥昌弘) in Niigata Prefecture in 1940, but currently works in Yashio in Saitama.
He had great interest in Bonsai, and studied at Shunkaen under the renowned Kunio Kobayashi, and won awards for his Satsuki, notably the Excellence Award for Satsuki Shaping from Kindai Bonsai.
He found his true calling in 1997, when he began apprenticing under blog favorite Shigeru Fukuda(aka Bushuan). In 2004 he apprenticed in Guangdong to study clay and Chinese technique for a year. Sharaku has won numerous awards for his pottery, and now runs a pottery school in Saitama.
Unlike Bushaun, Sharaku specializes in single color glazes that are very bright and clean. But it’s easy to see his old master’s style in his complicated Mokko shape pots, for which he is rightfully famous.
Now, on to the pots!

A selection of Sharaku pots I photographed for sale at Shunkaen.

A bright yellow Mokko shape, formerly of my collection. Clean, bright yellow. These pots will be masterpieces once patina has taken it’s toll and toned them down.

A small green glazed three footed round in my collection.

A selection of Sharaku pots on display in a show at Shunkaen.

And a few more on display at Shunkaen(the painted cascade not Sharaku).

A really impressive Red mokko. Very rich and warm glaze.


Sharaku’s entries in 2 different years of the Gafu Ten held Shohin pottery exhibition and competition.

Photo By Bonsai Rien

Photo By Bonsai Rien

Photo By Bonsai Rien
A selection of mokko shapes in green, indigo, and red.

Check out that glaze!

A really fantastic antique mirror shape in bright orange with Chicken Feet. The tight angles and points are razor sharp and clean. Excellent clay work.

Another Antique Mirror shape in pink

A really nice small cascade from the collection of friend of the Blog Nathan Simmons.

A really nice mokko shape with a rather bluish celadon glaze.

A two toned red round with drips. It’s rare to see a potter who really embraces and specializes in red Glazes, and Sharaku’s are some of the best.

A different orange glaze than the previous pieces. This one is thicker and a little more rustic.

Photo by Bonsai-Rien

Photo by Bonsai-Rien
A multi toned red cascade. A different red than the previous pieces, more of a Canton red. Very lovely and warm.

Photo Credit: Kenny Tay
A really impressive mokko shape from the collection of Kenny Tay. It’s rare to see two toned glaze like this from Sharaku. Very nice piece.

Sharaku’s three artist marks. The Kabuki image and Sharaku’s artist name comes from the 18th century Ukiyoe Artist “Sharaku”, whose woodblock prints and paintings of sumo and kabuki are masterpieces of the time.

Sharaku’s “Kabuki Actor Otani Oniji II in the role of Edobe” that is the model for Shimitori San’s artist mark.

And we’ll finish up today with a little Winter Jasmine in a Sharaku pot.

If you’re in the area, I’ll be giving a lecture on The History, Appreciation, Classification, and Identification of Bonsai Containers for the Atlanta Bonsai Society January 24, the Bonsai Society of Upstate New York January 27, and the Birmingham Bonsai Society February 9th. I hope to see a few readers of the blog out, despite the chilly weather!

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s article on the pottery of Sharaku,
Thanks For Reading!

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Bang For Your Buck Potters 2: Koyo Toen(鴻陽陶園)

Aiba Kouichirou
Aiba Kouichirou was born in Showa 19(1944) the son of a potter whose family specialized in pots for plants and tableware, a kiln founded by his grandfather. In early 1970, Aiba Kouichirou built a new kiln, changed the name to Koyo Toen, and began making bonsai pots.
Aiba Koyo is most famous for glazed pots, but he also makes unglazed pieces and suiban, in addition to other wares. He is perhaps best known for his Oribe Yu glazes, and I’ve heard it said that his work with Oribe in the last decade rivals that of even Heian Tofukuji. In addition to Oribe green and blue, he makes some really nice starved Oribe in red and white, as well as crackle yellows, motif carved pots, and unique one off glazes. Pots are created using several different methods: Wheel, hand carved, slab, coil, and hand formed.
Aiba KuniakAiba Kuniaki was born in 1973, and recently took over the head of kiln, under the name Koyo Juko. Juko San has widened the production of the Koyo kiln into more diverse wares, and continues the tradition of excellence of his father.
Aiba Kouso
Kouso is Aiba Kouichiro’s Wife, and she makes smaller containers and Kusamono pots on the wheel, in Koyo’s famous glazes.

Pots from the Koyo kiln are very inexpensive for the quality, so they definitely fall under bang for the buck potters! An excellent Oribe from Koyo Toen can cost as little as 125$, while a similarly glazed Ino Shukuho can run several hundred, and a Tofukuji several thousand!

Now, on to the Pots!
Aiba Kouichirou





5 pots showing the diversity that Koyo achieves with Oribe type glazes based on kiln position and the amount of oxygen available.

A fantastic Oribe glazed rectangle from the collection of friend of the blog and maple master extraordinaire Matt Ouwinga. Excellent patina on this piece. I’d be hard pressed guessing this was a Koyo and not a Shukuho.


Another from Matt Ouwinga’s collection, a very early edition in a cool Canton type glaze. The highlights of blue and even gold in the multifaceted green crackle are outstanding.

A really nice speckled Kinyo glaze rectangle with indent corners and cut feet. Very nice and interesting glaze.

A unique cut cornered dual tone glazed rectangle with heron and octopus facade carvings. Very interesting glaze, the darker side would be the side that faced the fire in the kiln.

This piece features a Takatatori Yu type glaze, like Oribe, it is another that Tofukuji was famous for, and Kouichirou San also proves quite skilled with it.

A Canton Green six sided pot. Great depth and multiple tones make this piece outstanding among green pots.

A really beautiful Oribe showing quite a bit more blue than is normal.

Another 6 sided pot in a Canton style Green glaze. The difference In tone with the previous Canton green 6 sided pot is remarkable.

A Canton Red glazed pot. Very classical in finish and glaze.

A really nicely glazed semi cascade type square, also in a Canton red type glaze. The very soft and warm glaze on such a strong and angular pot is interesting.

A Canton Ruri (indigo) glazed rectangle with striking lighter Kinyo or Ruri overglaze.

Last up for the First Generation of Koyo Toen we have another Canton Ruri type of glaze with pinkish red highlights. Very unique and lovely color combination.
Kouso Koyo

This is the most common example of pots made by Kouso, Aiba Kouichirou’s wife. Thrown on the wheel or pinched, these pots are often finished with some of Koyo’s signature glazes, and are a deal for the price.

A really interestingly glazed Kusamono pot. I haven’t seen this glaze on any other Koyo pots, perhaps it is Kouso’s own recipe.

A similar piece to the above, but in unglazed brown.

An interesting wheel thrown eggshell.


Two more Kusamono or Mame containers in Koyo’s signature Shinsha Red from Kouso
Kuniaki Aiba(Jukosan)
Most of the pictures in this section come from Jukosan’s Facebook page

Kuniaki Aiba stands among his wares with the Kiln built by his father in 1970.

A display of pots from Jukosan at this years Shuga Ten Shohin Bonsai show.

A really nice Oribe Suiban from Jukosan. The son has definitely inherited the skill of the father!

A uniquely glazed rectangle in blues and indigo. Simply lovely.

A facade carved unglazed cascade with Dragon. Very nice Shudei clay and a nicely detailed dragon in a classical Tokoname style.


Jukosan’s entries in the 2012 and 2013 Shohin Bonsai Association’s pottery exhibition held during Gafu Ten in January. These entries really show Jukosan’s versatility as a potter.

A Canton Green glazed rectangle. Very nice glaze and the blue highlighting to the right is exceptional.

Glazed Peach bloom red rectangle with cloud feet in the classical Tetsu Gakkan style pot. Very clean and solid red glaze.

A simple yellow crackle. Not nearly as showy as some of these others but one of my favorite glazes from the kiln.

A nail carved rectangle. Jukosan is certainly multi Talented!! The nail carving style reminds me of Kouzan or Chazan.

A Canton Red glazed rectangle. Great depth and warmth to the glaze make it something better than what you get in red from many other potters.

This one comes from the collection of my friend 陳瑞堂. A really spectacular green shot through with mottled patches of deep blue. A very exceptional glaze.

Last up for Jukosan, we have this rectangle. There’s so much going on here I don’t know where to start! The tiny details like the asymmetrical drips of the rich green overglaze, the tiny rivets at the inset corners, and the cloud foot peeking through on only one side, all combine to make this container a piece of rare excellence. Still quite a young man(at least I hope he is, he’s only a couple years older than me!) we’ll be seeing excellent work from Jukosan for decades to come.

Thanks for reading! Several more articles in the works this week, including Imaoka Machinao, Hayashi Mokuu, and a much asked for apparently overdue piece on the Yamaaki lineage. Stay tuned!

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Ono Gishin

Ono Gishin was born in Sukumo, a castle town, the eldest son of a Tosa clan samurai, Ono Fushikichi, in 1839, and passed away in 1905. As a fifth rank Noble, Gishin was the head of his Village in Tosa, But was a strong supporter of the Meiji restoration, and as such, later joined the Japanese Ministry of Industry and Engineering at the age of 31. The next year, in 1871, he joined the Ministry of Finance, and retired from civil service in 1874.
During his time he spearheaded numerous public works, including the building of Osaka harbor and improvements on The river Yodo.

In addition to his bureaucratic service, Gishin was a renowned businessman, industrialist, and entrepreneur, considered one of the founders of the Nippon Railway, the first privately held rail company in Japan, where he carried on some of the work started when he was a bureaucrat where the government had begun laying rail lines, and later led the company as president.
Gishin was also a courtier and chief advisor of Yataro Iwasaki, the founder of the Mitsubishi Zaibatsu, and it is said that Gishin laid much of the foundation for the Zaibatasu’s power, and that Iwasaki would not make any major decision without Gishin’s council, earning him the nickname 強一郎(Kyouichirou-The one Strength of. Ro[Ro here is a pun on the last Kanji of Yataro’s name]).(while not Bonsai related, I highly recommend checking out additional history on the Zaibatsu, Gishin, and The Iwasakis… as it is fascinating).

Gishin was very much what we would call a “literati”, and in addition to pottery, forged Swords, was accomplished at Go and Bonsai, and wrote Haiku. A true Bunjin in many pursuits.
His kiln was attached to his home, and he employed Owari potter Kato Shokichi to learn technique and glaze, and run the kiln. His work eventually outmatched Kato, most significantly in his fine glaze work.
Few works survive today of what was sold, those that do were mostly given as gifts to fellow literati, and were therefore cherished, and of them green and Adzuki Bean glaze are the most common, and best.
Now, on to the pots!

Photo Courtesy Yorozuen

Photo Courtesy Yorozuen

Photo Courtesy Yorozuen

Photo Courtesy Yorozuen
A really fantastically shaped and delicate piece with the Adzuki Bean glaze Ono Gishin is famous for. This piece is available from Yorozuen. For a mere 1 million Yen it could be yours ;-)
Adzuki, or Red Bean, Glaze is a type of copper based glaze that is not as pure and bright red as Peach bloom red. It often has specks of green where the glaze hasn’t fully reduced to red. This is one of the most outstanding examples of the glaze in existence.

A deeper and richer red than the previous piece, closer to Peach Bloom Red than Adzuki Bean.

A speckled green glazed piece with two belts. This glaze is unique and exceptional.

A cream glazed pot with excellent patina. The large lip really makes the pot!



Another round piece in Adzuki Bean glaze with close ups. In the close ups you can see why Gishin is famous for this glaze, as his version has far less mottling than you see from others of the period.

A small fern accent in a greenish yellow Gishin. Very cool composition.



Three similar pieces with different glazes. The red and cream glazed pot reminds me of one of Koyo’s signature glazes. The red side would be the side facing the fire.

A tall red cascade. Very clean and rich red.

A round Canton green glazed pot with really excellent cut feet. Very nice glaze and clearly excellent foot work.

And we’ll finish up today with another piece available for sale, this one from Kinbon, also a steal at 1 million Yen! Excellent clean glaze with cool accents and feet.


This piece is accompanied by a box, which establishes the provenance of the piece. The box was made for the pot by a famous Yokohama collector of Gishin’s work in 1939. Boxes like this that establish provenance can be especially important in high value pieces where forgeries are common.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the article! Thanks for reading!

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Takemoto Hayata

Takemoto Hayata was born Takemoto Masenori In the first year of the Kaei period, 1848. The son of Takemoto Yotoki, a Shogunate Bannerman, he was born into the Samurai class of nobles in the feudal Shogunate system in Tokyo. As his father was powerful and he himself was a samurai, they lost everything in the Meiji Restoration. In 1867, upon the restoration of the Emperor to the throne, the Shogunate ended. Over the course of several years, Samurai and Daimyo had their rank, property, income, and elite status revoked by the Emperor.
Many Samurai chose to side with the Emperor, and in Takemoto’s area of Tokyo, these became the Tokyo police. Many others did not go quietly, and revolted. The revolts were quickly squashed by the new Imperial Army, headed by a core of Samurai that were the Tokyo Police. Takemoto refused to fight on either side, and thus, having no income, property, or trade, spent the rest of his years living in poverty.
Takemoto and his father were already pottery hobbyists when the Meiji restoration occurred, having made the acquaintance of Inoue Ryusai, a Seto Potter who visited the Edo suburbs. After the Restoration, Takemoto began producing pots professionally and in earnest, having built a kiln with his father from old bathroom brick and tile in the Takatamura suburb of Tokyo very early in the Meiji period, dubbed Takemoto Hayata.
After repeated failures and much consultation with Ryusai(who eventually became the foreman at his kiln when he adopted western Slip casting methods), Takemoto began producing excellent small works, loved by the Imperials and their retainers. Eventually he also produced vases and tea ceremony items, but is still most famous for his bonsai pottery. Most of his work is in the Cochin-China style, but several other glazes, clays, and techniques were employed before his early death in 1892, only 44 years old.

Count Matsudaira and his wife at Kokufu 1

Count Matsudaira’s Mame Bonsai display at the first Kokufu Ten

It is more than significant to point out that Takemoto is considered by many to be one of the principles responsible in the creation of Shohin Bonsai, albeit indirectly. Count Yorinaga Matsudaira is considered the most important person in the popularization of Shohin bonsai in Japan, and his love of Takemoto’s containers is well known and documented. One of the reasons Count Matsudaira was able to fulfil his goals in creating tiny Mame bonsai was surely the new availability of tiny containers made by Takemoto, many of which were commissioned by the count. But Count Matsudaira is a whole post in his own right….so….on to the pots!

A pair of rectangles, crackle and cream glazed, both in the Cochin style, from the Matsudaira collection.

A really awesome crackle Cochin style mokko from the Matsudaira collection. The patina is incredible. One thing that is wonderful about pots like these is that their lineage and ownership is well established(for the most part) and if one is diligent, can find out where every single bit of that patina came from over the last 130 years.

A very impressive(and needless to say expensive!!!) collection of Takemoto pots. This really shows the diversity of form and glaze that Takemoto used. Takemoto is most famous for his Cochin style crackles, but reds, blues, and completely unique odd one offs are also well known and impressive.
Speaking of…
Cochin Style Crackles

First up, a really sweet rectangle from the collection of friend of the blog
Matt Ouwinga. An excellent example of Takemoto Craze.

From the side, one can see the proportions that seem so odd to us today, the same proportions one normally sees on the Chinese pots of the period.

A fairly famous pot, here it makes an appearance in a very old and rare book about Bonsai pottery published in the 40s or 50s.

Another very famous crackle, this time in blue. The very light and non uniform crackle makes this a prize, and very unique.

What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of Takemoto? Well, you’ve got no excuse. While not exactly extensive, there have been several articles referencing Takemoto in English. William Valavanis’s 50 Year book(which is wonderful btw) has a great article on the history of Shohin Bonsai that makes mention of Takemoto. There’s the photo above, taken from Bonsai Today, issue 85.
And as I’ve said before, John Romano’s article on the history of Shohin Bonsai in International Bonsai issue 3, 2011 is excellent, and gives proper place to the importance of Takemoto in Shohin Bonsai history.

A really nice tiny crazed piece with an unbelievable patina!

Crackle glazes are sweet, but it’s pieces like this one, and the next one that are stand apart excellent. I mean, you can get antique Chinese crackles for less than similar sized Takemoto, but not with touches like these. Small unique touches of unrepeatable wabi sabi.

A very famous and unique pot, named “Zan-setsu”-“Remaining Snow.” Crackle glaze sparingly used on a dark clay body. If you look in the standard art history and ceramics books, they pigeonhole Takamoto, because in their prejudice they give weight to the vases and tea stuff, and discount the Bonsai Containers, in most cases calling them flower pots or basins. “Takemoto confined his efforts in producing monochromatic porcelain and in this he attained marked progress”….really? This piece is neither monochromatic nor porcelain and one of the greatest works of the period! Pfft.

A very famous pair of Shohin Bonsai Cultural Treasures made by Takamoto. In the book Miyabi, the commentary on these pots is “This pair of Hexagonal pots made by Takemoto is valuable. Although Takemoto made many similar shaped pots, most were smaller than these pots. The beautiful glaze is a speciality of Takemoto.”
Unique Glazes

Five very small pots displayed together at Gafu Ten for recognition as Cultural Masterpieces. This type of glaze is also one of Takemoto’s specialities, and comes in many colors.


Two red glazed pots in the same glaze style as the above. The white peaking at the corners softens the pots which are otherwise angular.

A very rare and large vase by Takemoto. The glaze is simply outstanding.

This pot is another Cultural Masterpiece. A really fantastic and unique glaze, like waves at night.

A small Mokko shape pot. Later potters like Ichiyo would emulate Takemoto extensively, especially small pots like these.

A small Ichiyo from my collection.

And a Takemoto. Note the foot shape a proportions, clearly the Ichiyo is an homage piece.

This green glaze is another of Takemoto’s signature glazes. It is soft and warm.



Three views of another Takemoto in this signature green glaze from the collection of Matt Ouwinga. Very representative of Takemoto’s work.
Other Pots

A very rare series of Six, Six Sided painted pots from Takemoto. Also Cultural Masterpieces. An interesting display.

A very nice cascade unglazed pot. Clean lines and very nice clay make this a treasure.

The previous unglazed piece paired with a similarly shaped Takemoto in a cream glazed Cochin style. The patina on the Cochin style is excellent, as is the display of the two pieces together.

A blue glazed rectangle with cut feet. In pieces like these one can see the influence Takemoto had on later potters like Tofukuji and Aiso.


And we’ll finish up our look at the pots of Takemoto with this fantastically patinated Cochin style cream glazed round. A fantastic pot, and the equal or better of anything that came from China in the same period.
A few Shohin Bonsai in Takemoto Pots


Shohin Ibota(Rough Bark Japanese Privet)

The Kinzu(Hong Kong Kuquat) in the second shelf, left, is in a Takemoto


The Chojubai, second shelf, left, in a green Takemoto

The broom style Zelkova, bottom shelf, left, is in a wonderful yellow Takemoto rectangle.

And that will do it for today’s look at Takemoto Hayata! Thanks for reading!

If you’re not already following the Facebook “Bonsai Auctions”, you should head on over.
Here are a few of the items I’ll be listing there this week.





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