Hayashi Mokuu

Well, spring sprang with a vengeance this year!  I don’t know about you guys, but I managed to finish everything I had planned for the season, from repotting, to grafting, to styling and on down the line….well, almost everything…I’ve been remiss in updating the blog with all the hubbub of spring, so now that everything is done, I’ll be playing catch up and posting twice weekly for a while.  First up, Hayashi Mokuu!
Hayashi Mokuu, whose real name was Hayashi Yoshikazu was born in Kyoto in 1901, and passed away in 1999.  He studied pottery under his father, who worked at one of the large Kyo Yaki kilns.  At the age of 20, he took a position with the Imperial Household Kiln, to acquire skills with porcelain.  After this, he studied with famous Kyoto craftsman Shimizu, where he began creating bonsai pottery. 
Mokuu was close friends with Heian Tofukuji, and they often created bonsai together, and also traded secrets and critiques of each other’s pottery works.  Some Mokuu even use Tofukuji’s glazes.  
Mokuu’s work is pretty varied, from charming small painted pieces, to odd figurines, to simple unglazed Nanban.
Now, on to the pots!

First up, here’s a very brief look at the types of wares Mokuu is known for, in his day job as a classical Kiyomizu style potter.   Interesting, and sometimes odd, figurines, tea and sake wares, and other assorted Kyo-Yaki ceramics.

   Three views of an akae painted paneled green round.  The paintings are both detailed and simple, the type of charming scenes Mokuu is famous for painting.   

 A very simple cut foot, glazed rectangle.  Fantastic patina.  I think this is a good example of one of those pieces Tofukuji may have had input on, perhaps even a shared glaze.  

   Another very simple and charming painted pot, this one sometsuke with black feet.  The patina really adds character to the piece.  A soft cornered rectangle with frogs.  Charming and whimsically painted.  A simple cream round.  Very nice, classical and clean.  A much more detailed landscape in red on rectangle.  The Kyoto style geometrics on the feet are a great touch.  A really marvelous celadon porcelain piece in antique mirror shape.  This is a nice container, but in this lighting it seems to positively glow.  A dark blue glazed ect angle with flower panel in go Sai.  Very interesting, very unique.  Only a couple of potters made pieces like this: Mokuu and Koito Taizan.    A personal collection of 9 Mokuu, really showing the diversity of form, shape, and color that Mokuu used.  The belt painted piece(top, top left) and sometsuke rectangle (bottom,bottom right) are especially nice. 

 A really simple, really tiny “round”…at least from this front…. But turn it over and….   A taller round with carved landscape.  Very nice and rustic  If pressed, I would have guessed this was Koito Taizan.  His style, and the style of Mokuu, are often very similar.  

An odd and rustically painted black on crackle rectangle.  Butterflies and flowers.  Very modern. 

Four views of a more classical landscape in black.  Nice details and an excellent form, clean lines.   

    Our last look at the containers Alone of Hayashi Mokuu today is this excellent conch shell piece.  Really unique and interesting for a small Kusamono or shitakusa for Shohin display.

And before I leave you….how about some trees in Hayashi Mokuu containers?




Kuchinashi (gardenia)


I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the pottery of Hayashi Mokuu. 

Up next, Kutani Aritomo on Monday, more from Kutani Ikko on Friday, and several more posts are written and in process, 2 per week, throughout the next month!  Stay tuned! 

Thanks for reading!

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Imaoka Machinao

Imaoka Machinao was born in 1925 in Tokyo, and uses his given name for his kiln. He began making Bonsai pots in 1964, and in1972 he moved his kiln to Ito, in Shizuoka.  A short 9 years later he had closed that kiln, and passed away in the mid 90s. 

 Imaoka has had a significant impact on other contemporary potters, especially makers of mame and Shohin pots.
He is recognized for works in celadon, cinnabar, Ruri, and white porcelain pieces, but is considered the master of “apricot skin glaze”(which I refer to affectionately as “brain glaze”) 

Imaoka’s Shohin pottery book.

 Now, on to the pots! 

Apricot Skin Glaze 

Kairagi Yu(梅花皮 釉), or Apricot Skin glaze, is a kind of extreme crackle style glaze, where the glaze separates into pieces and puddles, forming an intricate tracing of glaze over the body.
First off, I’d like to thank my friend Gerry Novotny for the stunning images of his Apricot skin glaze Imaoka collection. This is a small portion of those that he has, and it’s still probably the best there is.  All of the photos in this section are from Gerry’s collection except the last.

Kairagi Yu can come in many colors, but peach and cream are the most common.  Metallic gold, silver, and hematite colors are quite rare, making this collection all the more exceptional. 

Four metallic Apricot Skin glazed rounds, showing a variety of textures: flat plates, rounded bubbles, stone like texture, and a rather reptilian skin.A similar trio in Gold Kairagi Yu.

Four different views of a larger gold apricot skin glazed rectangle.  The texture is exceptional, and even the underside is glazed.  Truly a masterpiece.

A pair of more conventional Kairagi Yu glazed rectangles, both showing excellent patina.

Another pair of taller cascade Kairagi Yu.  

This one is fascinating.  A taller cascade with two tone apricot skin glaze and panel.  Really awesome.

This apricot skin glaze round is perhaps the most commonly seen color, and illustrates why I refer to it as “brain glaze”.This is the only piece in this section not from Gerry’s impressive collection.  It’s multi toned Apricot skin glaze makes it worth including.

Other Glazes

A five piece boxed set with a nice range of Imaoka Glazes and included stand.  Cool small collection.

This two toned small cascade piece is a really wonderful example of Imaoka’s work with cinnabar.  A really excellent mix of colors.Another cinnabar glazed piece.  The two toned appearance is common for certain glazes, the red side faced the fire in the kiln.A small porcelain piece with cut feet and two small highlights.This porcelain crackle with it’s excellent patina and even craze is quite lovely and easily usable.A similar crackle, this one showing no patina.  Still as shiny as the day it was made.Edit

A pair of smaller rounds in cinnabar and porcelain.  Both would make for nice Shohin shitakusa.A rarity, for sure.  This carved design porcelain Imaoka is one of a kind, which is a shame, as the carvings are very nice.Edit

Another cascade, this one showing a myriad of greens with blue highlights.A really nice canton style blue rectangle with geat depth to the glaze.Another tall cascade in multi toned green and brown.Edit

Two views of a rather exceptionally glazed lipped square.  The glaze has a feeling of Namako to it.These cinnabar Edit

swyares with dancer carvings are probably the most common Imaoka one sees around.A very small round with cinnabar and porcelain.And we’ll finish up today’s look at Imaoka with this awesomely glazed cinnabar and porcelain rectangle.  Absolutely beautiful.

Thanks for reading!  Up next, an article on Kyoto potter Hayashi Mokuu!

Before I let you go, here’s a small plea for assistance.  Simon Jones is an English bonsai enthusiast who has been at it for thirty years.  A couple of weeks ago, the heater in his greenhouse malfunctioned, burning the building to the ground, and destroying his 30 years of bonsai work, and his hands as well, trying to save what he could.  He lost an impressive collection of Shohin and Chuhin native material, along with his tools, and many containers.  If you can, I’d urge you to donate an item to help get his collection back on track, contact me for an address, or if you’d like, you can donate to this paypal address: 


Photo Credit Will Baddeley

It’s times like these that bonsai enthusiasts worldwide band together to lend some support and assistance.  I have, and hope you will as well.

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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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