For Sale Page Updated and other Sundries

It’s been a busy year, so I haven’t had time to update much of anything, or publish any articles.  I’ve been traveling frequently lecturing around the country at clubs and events, and working on a book about, what else, bonsai containers!  I’ll detail my travels and other fun stuff in a blog post this coming week!

For more information on lectures and services, see the Services page here:

Anywho, I’ve been off the road for 2 weeks, and I’ve put together several new articles, and also updated the For Sale page here: 


Japanese Bonsai is proud to offer the pottery of Roy Minarai, a few of the selections up now:

Still have a lot more things to add this week and next, so check back often!  A few of the items up now: 

Thanks for reading and check back soon(or better yet, subscribe ;-)) lots of new articles and posts coming this month!

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Ogurayama, Part 2

Karahashi Homiyabi was born September 5, 1920, in Kyoto.  Before bonsai pottery, he helped with the family business making traditional Kyo-yaki ware.  He started his earnest apprenticeship as a potter/painter in 1970 under Heian Matsumoto, and gained his independence in 1975, whereupon he built a hybrid gas/electric kiln and took the potter name “Kiyoumine Ogurayama”.  Ogurayama entered his first big bonsai pottery exhibition, the National Masterpiece Kobachi, in 1981, and took the Grand Prize.  Since then, he’s won numerous awards and medals for his work.  He is now retired, and his son is the Ogurayama.  

This is our second look at Ogurayama.  The first was 3 years to the day I started working on this article earlier this month: Ogurayama Part 1.  

Ogurayama’s work and style are quite varied and impressive: Carved pieces, underglaze painting, over glaze enamel, and glazed containers are all excellent.  His painting work is an interesting mix of traditional Kyo-Yaki style and his own innovative pictorial style.  Very popular in the Japanese Shohin shows like Gafu Ten, very underrated for the quality, and at a great price point.

Now….on to the pots! 

  Ogurayama creates some of the best winter scene painted containers I’ve seen, from any painter.  This piece is sublime, with just enough color to focus the attention on the figures crossing the bridge.  The demon feet are a great touch, and show his carving work in addition to excellent painting.
  A very nice figure painting sometsuke.  Very nicely detailed figures, and excellent patina.  Traditional Kyo-yaki arabesques, another showing excellent patina.
  A really unique piece.  The top a very highly detailed 5 color figure painting, and the base a gold overglaze enamel.  Astounding contrast.  A simple glazed cream oval with red accents.
  Another traditional style painting, of Ume in bloom.  The single offset bloom to the right of center creates an assymetry that makes the pot stand apart(and gives direction and flow to the painting).  A less detailed sometsuke figure piece than the previous examples.  More Spartan, with a great use of negative space and a clear story.
  An almost coral red glaze with cram accents.  Interesting form and the darkening of the glaze in the center process an interesting symmetry, complimenting the cut feet.Traditional Kyoto style geometrics and a mokko panel landscape.  Good patina on this piece.  An easily usable pot.
  Another very detailed figure painting.  There are two things about this pot that really stand out for me: the hole in the foot, which is a nice touch, and the figure pointing up and outward.  The latter provides flow and direction to the piece, and that his index finger just barely crosses the clearly defined line of the scene is fascinating.  I see it as almost spiritually metaphorical.  An abstract painting with Hiragana(ほ-ho).  Hiragana is a phonetic way of writing Japanese, more closely resembling our western writing than Kanji.  It is considered feminine in style and often used by poetesses.
  Two sides of a fascinatingly colored rectangle.  The upper seems like a Monet, the Lower calls to my mind Van Gogh.  Really interesting and unique style here.


Oribe glazed green and blue with demon feet.  Fantastic glaze and Clay work.
  Another really interesting container showing multiple levels of talent.  The indent corners, bottom sash, and clean lines show excellent clay work, the brilliant yellow shows Ogurayama’s glazing expertise, and the ken mokko shaped panel with go-sai landscape show his painting skill.  An excellent piece, with a great patina.  Another landscape rectangle.  This piece is highly detailed, and the color variations Ogurayama pulls from the sometsuke are astounding.  
A simple soft cornered semi-cascade rectangle with carved arabesques.    This piece throws me for a loop.  Sitting under a tree, we are looking out on a landscape, rather than looking in.  Like the finger crossing the frame in the previous piece, this shows something entirely different and more artistic in meaning and purpose than we see from most painters of bonsai containers.  Very different….  
 A really excellent and cartoonish winter scene with good patina, on a soft cornered rectangle with half cloud feet.  Lovely.  Enough said. 

  Overglaze enamel birds over waves.  The black on Orange is a striking combination.  We’ll finish up our second look at the work of Ogurayama with this extremely odd cut corner ruri rectangle….with what I believe to be are the classical frolicking children…but very oddly rendered.  The overglaze painting calls to my mind the appearance of chalk drawn on the street, by children, of children(or maybe astronauts).  Another meta piece.
 From a few other angles, you can see the nicely carved demon feet glazed in gold enamel.  An truly outstanding piece, from a woefully underrated master of Bonsai Ceramics. 

Thanks for reading!  Stay tuned for updates tomorrow on upcoming lectures and locations, and take a look at the updated “Services” page under the menu bar!

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The 11th Annual Shohin Pottery Competition (2)

There were many other notable artists and favorites in this year’s exhibition who didn’t win awards.  Let’s take a look at a few I found interesting.


 My friend Ruban Yu of Taiwan entered a nice set of 3 painted containers, showing a nice diversity of form and interesting style to the paintings that is every bit unique. 

   Ruban’s containers pair very well with bonsai, I’ve seen some fantastic examples from Taiwan.  That’s perhaps the best Fukien Tea Shohin I’ve seen, and I’m quite envious of the second tree, as well, a collected Taiwan Native, Breynia Officianalis.   Give his website a visit to see more of his work here: Ruban Yu.

  One of the three students of Bushuan in this year’s competition, Shunhou presented three unglazed pieces.  Excellent clay work is apparent, a bit more diversity of form and I think he would have taken a prize.    

 The entry from another blog favorite and renowned Japanese potter Hayashi Tyukan.  I was quite surprised this entry didn’t take a prize.  For more on this artist, there’s an article in the TOC.  That Ken-Rinka Shape round is absolutely breathtaking. 

 The entry from renowned Kyoto potter Koto Chukan.  Very rarely do I say anything negative about the containers I showcase here, but this year, I was a bit disappointed with Chukan’s entry….. 

   A couple of other pieces from Koto Chukan, to illustrate my disappointment.  A trio of nicely carved and glazed pieces from friend of the blog Kiyoshi Koiwai.  Very excellent footwork and very nice geometric carvings as well.
  A three piece entry from former Ishida Shoseki student Shosui.  These are some of the best detailed containers I’ve seen from this artist. A 3 piece glazed entry with relief carvings from friend Tani Ranzan.  Ranzan has an incredible diversity of talent, and excels at carvings, paintings, and clay work.   

 The 3rd Bushuan student to be accepted to the exhibition, this 3 piece offering comes from Michiko Jinbo, wife of glazed category winner Hiyashi Jinbo(Jinbe).  One can really see the influence of her teacher in the container on the left….. 

 Bushuan from my collection showing a very similiar glaze style and form. 

  A really nice trio of painted containers from Kenji Kobayashi, who took silver in the category in 2014.  Nicely detailed and excellent clay work. A trio of painted containers from Yamachi(山ち), Tomoko Ishikawa.  Excellent detail and good variety of painting and shape.
  The entry from Tomoyoshi Tamura, the brother of the the silver award in the painted category.  Very interesting glazes and painting.


 Last up from the exhibition proper, we have the entries from the husband and wife Doshitas(Doshita Keishin and Doshita Housei, respectively).  Keishin and Housei do marvelous work.  Her paintings are excellent and highly detailed, while his unglazed containers show fantastic clay work and a rare talent for magnificent calligraphy.  I think it likely these two pottery pros are the reason top honors are no longer given back to back, as both won top honors in their respective categories in the first couple of Exhibitions.  Look for full articles on them in the coming weeks. 

 In addition to the Container exhibition proper, there were two pottery displays in the Gafu Ten that I thought were worth a look.  The above 7 point display features 6 containers from Heian Tofukuji, and a small painted container from Tsukinowa Yusen.  Great variety of form, depth, texture, and shape.    The second pottery display I enjoyed was a 7 point featuring all works by Ichinokura Sekisyu.  Again, good diversity of shape, but I would have liked to see at least 1 each of the unglazed and glazed containers Sekisyu also excelled at creating.

If you’d like to read more and see more of the The Shohin Bonsai Pottery Exhibitions, check the Table of Contents for my reports on previous shows, and also visit 2016 Kobachi for the other entries from this year!

Thanks again for reading!  

Posted in Famous and Antique Potters, Modern Potters | 2 Comments

The 11th Annual Shohin Pottery Competition (1)

Every year I look forward to Gafu Ten and the results of the big pottery competition and exhibition that is held there each year.  For articles on the previous exhibitions, click the over to the Table of Contents page under the menu bar.

Lots to talk about from this year’s exhibition, with many images, so I’ll be separating it into two posts.  First up, the winners, and the entries from last year’s gold medalists.

 Overviews of the exhibition.

Now, on to the pots!

Unglazed Containers


   The Gold medalists for the previous year aren’t eligible for prizes(nor are those who have won top honors more than a couple of times), but they are always invited to display in the following year. This was the entry from British Potter Andrew Pearson, of Stone Monkey Ceramics, who took gold last year. This year’s entry features real silver rivets. I was quite impressed with them. Very Classical but also very innovative. Extraordinarily clean lines, reminiscent of “The Razor” Heian Kouzan. Well done Andy. 
  Gold medal in the unglazed category went to Takashi Ono(大矢 忠), who won the category also in 2009 and 2011.  His carvings are some of the best of any bonsai potter of all time, rivaling the greats like Suruga Yamashou and Zeshin.  


  The Silver award went to Sugiahima Shigehiro, who goes by the potter name Hiroshi(宏).  An interesting trio of containers with good form and ash finish.  Hiroshi trained in the past with well known Shigaraki potters Hikari and Yamafutoshien.

 The bronze medal this year for unglazed containers went to Toyoki Yasumoto, who presented a series of 4 mini-bonsai containers.  Very excellent form for such small pieces.
Glazed Containers

   The gold award for Glazed pottery went to one of 3 students of blog favorite Fukuda Shigeru(Bushuan) who exhibited in this show. The artist is Kyuji Jinbo , who goes by the names Jinkozan (神久山) or Jinbe(じんべ).  He won the silver award in the category last year.  Excellent forms and glazes, you can certainly see the influence of his Teacher, of who Jinbe remarks that he taught him “the Joy of the flowerpot”.
 Silver medalist for glazed containers in this year’s show went to blog favorite Shunka Seizan. For the past articles on Shunka Seizan, click his name.  As usual, fantastic glazes, and good diversityof form for single block carved containers.

 After the show, I was fortunate enough to add one of the three winning containers to my collection.  An excellent example of Sango Yu(Coral Red Glaze).
   The bronze award for glazed containers went to Hiroshi Hirabayashi, for a quartet of glaze/enamel painted mini containers(the painted container category is strictly for landscape and figure paintings).  He studies bonsai at Yamato-en.  Good geometric designs and multiple shapes.
 Last years’ winner for glazed containers, Shinobu(who also took the Gold for unglazed containers in 2014), presented a trio of Hakkaku(octagon) containers with cloud feet.  Both glazed and unglazed, and all 3 very nice.  Formerly a hobby potter, Shinobu is now in full production, and in addition to Glazed and Unglazed containers, makes excellent tenpai.  

 Shinobu award winning glazed container from 2015. Shinobu Hut Tenpai and moss shitakusa from my collection.

Painted Containers

   Gold in painted containers this year 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.  He also won bronze in 2015 and silver in 2014.

 A couple of other examples of Shunhou’s work.

  The silver award in painted containers went to Shintaro Tamura, who goes by the trade name Matsutake.  His father(Takeo Tamura) is a well-known collector of containers, and his brother also exhibited in this show.  Great variety of shapes, very clean clay work.  And disarmingly simple but lovely paintings.  Shibui.  Bronze this year went to Kyogoku Shiho.  If you check the Table of Contents there’s an older article about this painter.  Excellent details and classical styles.  A sharp contrast to the “less is more”Aesthetic of the silver award winner above! 
Last year’s winner in the category, Yamada Shigetoshi(Shun) presented three containers showing excellently detailed paintings and a good diversity of form.

  And last of all, the special exhibition from Ito Gekkou.  Gekkou has won enough awards, of course, so these were for display only.  Great to see his current style, and how it’s changed so much from earlier works.
Thanks for Reading!  Stay Tuned!  Tomorrow I’ll post Part 2, looking at the other entrants into the exhibition!

Posted in Modern Potters, My Personal Collection | 4 Comments

Classical Glazes 1, the many faces of Namako

Dating to the Kowatari era, Namako(Nuh-mah-ko), or Sea Cucumber glaze, is one of many Classical Glazes still in use today.  Along with Kinyo(baby blue), Ki(Yellow), Tenmoku, and various Canton glazes, Namako is one of those glazes every Contemporary Japanese artist has their own version and spin on.  

Namako has many characteristics of Chun Blue glazes(thanks Steve) another Classical Chinese glaze that saw its peak in the 11-15th centuries.  Namako is characteristically dark blue, with notes of browns and white flecks.  Unlike Kinyo and other blue glazes, Namako gets its blue coloration from “spherules of immiscible glass floating in the larger glass matrix. These are of the appropriate size to scatter blue light and not other wavelengths thus making the glaze appear blue to your eye.” Traditional Namako includes things like Bone Ash(Calcium Phosphate) Rice-Straw ash, and Feldspar.  The white pattern in the blue is often “Hare’s Fur”, common to Tenmoku and Namako.

           Sea Cucumber or Sea Slug….you can see where the name comes from!

Today we’ll take a look at the many and varied faces of Namako, both from antiquity and the modern era.  

Now, on to the pots!  

Antique Chinese Namako

   Classical Jingasa(Old Hat) shape with Namako.  Like many Namako glazes, the white mottling is night-sky-like and shows great depth.

  A typical Namako glazed rectangle, showing brown at the corners and angles.  Generally, the darker the clay, the more blue will show, and the lighter, less.Brown Namako oval.  The blue shows in the bottom of the glaze.  
  Round Namako with lip, showing significant white.  A subtle Namako rectangle.
  Darker Namako oval with a good balance of white and blue.  A really excellent Namako with soft inner lip(Uchi Buchi, how fun is that to say?) and great depth.
  Another Brown Namako.  This is an excellent example of why it is often difficult to date Namako, as patina is difficult to see.

 Nakawatari Namako from Yixing.  Deep, rich blue and brown at the angles.  Namako round showing the desirable Hare’s Fur pattern.  The quintessential Hare’s Fur pattern.  Namako over Tenmoku.

  Namako lipped rectangle.  Deep blue with brown at the angles and very light white accents.

  Kowatari Canton Namako.  Canton Namako is quite rare, and shows more whites and brighter blues, along with a different type of pattern.
  Another Kowatari Canton Namako.  The brighter blues and difference In pattern can clearly be seen on this suiban.

Japanese Namako

While old Chinese Namako was very much shibui(complex but simple and subtle), contemporary Japanese Namako often tends towards hade(indulgently complex, wild).

Heian  Kouzan, Later edition Namako Rectangle with double incised corners.

 Harumatsu Namako Suiban.

Suishoen, Tokoname.  Namako soft cornered Rectangle. 
  Youzan, Tokoname.  Significant whites and running hare’s fur make Youzan Namako quite unique.Hidemi Shuhou, Tokoname.  Brighter blues and running whites are more typical of contemporary Japanese Namako.  

  Aiba Kouyou.  Crazy Namako.    Bushuan.  Unlike classical Namako, which is a single glaze, many contemporary artists use multiple glazes for a Namako effect.  Taisho Bachi, Japanese Namako(1911-1926).  Most Taisho era Japanese bonsai containers are copies of Antique Chinese glazes, and Namako are common.  They never show the same level of depth as Antique Chinese Namako.

  Aiba Kouyou, Tokoname.  Koyo has 3 versions of Namako, this is my favorite of the three. Reihou, Tokoname.  A very classical style Namako, suiting Reiho’s classical style.  Reihou, Tokoname.  Another very Classical style Namako.
 Double Glazed, Namako over Oribe from Gyoumu.  Contemporary artists frequently layer Namako over other glazes, Tenmoku being the most common.

  As Classical bonsai pottery becomes better known in the west, more artists are using these glazes.  Here is a really nice Namako from Roy Minarai of South Carolina.
 Another excellent Namako style glaze from American Stephanie Walker, showing great depth and some sweet foot drips. 

 American Namako from Tyler Johnson, showing significant running and excellent depth.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at classical and contemporary Namako!

  I hope to see everyone this coming September in Rochester, where I will be giving two lectures on Bonsai Containers.  It’s an honor to be invited, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone!
Thanks for reading! 

Posted in Famous and Antique Potters, Modern Potters | 3 Comments


With Heike Van Gunst

Shosekis! (Part 3 of the Bang for your Buck series)

Ishida Shoseki

Ishida Shoseki was born in 1925, but didn’t start to create bonsai containers until 1969.  At the age of 50, she first trained under a professional potter, at wheel throwing,  under Bunsho, in Imari, and subsequently went on to study painting under Miyazaki Tosato.

Her style combines the best of classical Imari style figure painting and geometrics with a distinctly feminine touch.  She passed away in 2005, at the height of her popularity amoung Shohin enthusiasts.  

  An oval porcelain pot painted with landscape motifs in blue and green.
  An excellent figurative Geometric dragon.  A round piece with highly detailed geometrics and cloud panel landscape.  A hexagonal porcelain pot with landscape motifs and geometric patterns. On the feet of the pot there are painted flowers.  A round pot painted in blue. Two pines stand on a cliff above the sea. Below the cliff thow little boats are sailing along. In the background there are rocky islands.  Frogs like those painted on this round porcelain pot are a motif that Ishida Shoseki has used quite often, from the Chojugiga.  A rectangular porcelain pot with landscape paintings and geometrics.  The landscape motifs in the fan-shaped picture frames are painted in five colours.  Photo courtesy Yorozuen

Children motifs are popular with both Shosekis.

 A colourful flower pattern is painted on this round mame pot.  

A porcelain unpainted container with cut feet and lip.   

Blue glazed taiko(drum) with double bands of rivets.  Figurative parrot and palm tree.   

A landscape with hares is painted with black glaze colour on the light blue glazed porcelain pot.  The painting is by Daisuke Sano, the pot by Shoseki.  There is a frog motif on the other side of the pot.  Chop mark of Ishida Shoseki, signature of Sano, later edition signature.     A cascade pot with blue landscape painting. The composition and the use of free space is as remarkable as the vivid expression of the motif.

Yuki Shoseki

She was born in Tokyo in 1948, and in 1988 began her apprenticeship under Ishida Shoseki, after marrying her eldest son.  In 2005, she inherited the Shoseki name becoming the second generation Shoseki.  

Like her mother-in-law, and teacher, she is excellent with figure paintings, Imari style geometrics, and landscapes.   

  9 containers by Yuki in a variety of styles, showing the diversity of this artist.  Photo courtesy of German Gomez Soler.

  Rectangle with akae geometrics and landscape panel.
  Sometsuke geometrics.  Chojugiga.
  Soft rectangle with landscape.  Frolicking child in red.
  5 color children surrounded by Sometsuke geometrics.  Dragon and geometric details.
  Interesting rope border fan panel landscape and geometrics.  Landscape panel and geometrics.
  5 color Landscape hut on round.  Cricket panel and geometrics.
  An impressively detailed panel landscape and geometrics.  Frolicking children in 5 color.
 A cooperative effort from Yuki Shoseki and Shibakatsu.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the painted containers of Ishida and Yuki Shoseki.  

Take a minute and check out Heike Van Gunst’s excellent sister article to this one, at, Shosekis

Stay tuned, plenty of great articles coming out soon!   Thanks for reading!

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Inoue Ryosai

After a long summer and fall hiatus while I’ve been actually DOING bonsai, I’m back this week with the first of several articles to be published before the end of the year.  Thanks for being patient and sticking around!

Third Generation Inoue Ryosai(Inoue Ryotaro) was born September 4, 1888 in Asakusa, Tokyo, to the eldest son of the founder of the kiln.  The kiln was originally founded in the Edo period, and the family is descended from a long line of potters in the Owari/Seto clan.

He began his study of ceramics at the age of 17, and studied under “the father of modern Japanese ceramics”, Itaya Hazan.  In 1914, he inherited the family kiln and name, and moved to Yokohama, and built a new kiln.  The kiln was destroyed in 1923 in the Great Kanto earthquake, and he constructed a new, larger noborigama(climbing kiln) that still stands today, almost 11 meters tall.  It is “a mere 10 minute bike ride” from the kiln of another of the all time greats of Japanese Ceramics, Makuzu Kozan.

Ryosai specialized in export pottery for the high class Chinese and European markets, so pieces(like bonsai containers) for the Japanese market are exceedingly rare and culturally precious.  Ryosai won a host of prizes and awards in his lifetime, including the Emperors Prize in 1928, admission to the Japanese Acadamy of Fine Arts, and the rare designation as a living Cultural Treasure.  

His pieces are varied in style, and run the gamut from Unglazed to Glazed, to painted, carved and even enameled.  Truly an exceptional talent in all forms of ceramic art.

He passed away February 6, 1971. 

  A really fantastically glazed rectangle with cut feet and white clay.  One of the few I’ve ever seen up for sale.  Another wonderful glazed piece.  Very contemporary in both style and glaze, this is what makes the truly great artists: timelessness.    Another glazed piece, this one a soft mokko Showing an excellent patina.    It wouldn’t be fare to show Ryosai’s work without a few Non-bonsai related items.  A love crackle with just a splash of color.  A really striking kinyo oval.  Note the full coverage of the feet and the total lack of patina.  Truly a valuable item.  One of Ryosai’s painted sometsuke pieces. Taken from the blog of Haruyoshi San.  Charming and whimsical.

    A famous and outstanding overglaze enameled piece in black, red, and gold.  The detail is stunning.  Absolutely breathtaking piece.
  Another of Ryosai’s non-bonsai pieces.  Had to include this one, for the striking carving.  A glazed rectangle in a striped and rich green.  Great depth to the glaze.

An unglazed oval.  The clay color, patina, and form are striking.    One of Ryosai’s specialties was Flambé glaze, also known as Oribe red or copper red.  Under certain conditions(oxidation at 1220C) Oribe glazed are green, under others, they’re red.  The level of red in this woven glaze is simply outstanding.
  A six sided pot with a soba noodle glaze.  Great depth and fantastic, uniform fine oil droplets.

  Another painter container, this one painted with a rustic geometric band.  Charming and whimsical.
  Another Flambé glazed piece, in an antique mirror shape.  There’s just not much to say here.  It’s breathtaking.  Masterpiece. 

 A rich and deep green glazed rectangle with lip and bottom band.  Marvelous patina.  Simple, classical, lovely.

 A painted cascade container in cobalt-blue showing some fancy feet and wonderful patina.  Last up for the flambé/Oribe-red containers, is this matched set of cut foot squares with lip.  Simply outstanding.  No potter I’m aware of does copper reds quite as well as Ryosai(Imaoka does a pretty good version though).

  A simple and elegant celadon crackle in antique mirror shape.  

Six sided container with triangle feet in classical Oribe with painted horse.  Elegant.   Another painted container, in sometsuke.  A simple landscape and charming painting.

  And we’ll finish up our look at Inoue Ryosai with this fantastic mokko in Kouka-Yu(peach glaze).  Lovely, uniform color, striking in its simplicity and perfect form.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the masterpiece containers of Inoue Ryosai.

Stay tuned, I have several more articles coming up on the horizon, including a Co-op article with Heike Van Gunst of Germany (who is also translating my articles to German for Peter Krebs’ site) on Ishida and Yuuki Shoseki, several articles in series on antique Chinese glazes and clay types, and more!

Thanks for reading!

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Shunka Seizan 3

This will be the third installment of posts on the great contemporary potter and painter Shunka Seizan, who has recently won several awards and continues to amaze me with his diverse talents.  From post 1:

“His real name is “河村 政春” “Kawamura Seishun”. A veteran of more than 40 years as a bonsai grower, enthusiast, and lover, he is especially known for his maples. Shozan began making pots as a hobby 6 years ago. The works are all single block carved, and feature some of the best glazes I’ve seen from any modern potter, both in kiln change type glazes and clean, pure colors. Most of his glazes are kiln change type, in the best Japanese tradition of Tofukuji.”

To see more on this potter, check out these previous articles: 

Shunka Seizan 1
Pots in Process
Shunka Seizan Painted Pots
Now…..on to the pots!

  A Really complex Takatori Yu style glaze on a mokko pot.  Shunka Seizan’s Takatori Yu is the best Ive seen from any contemporary potter, the only that perhaps come close to Tofukuji.  An interesting dark Tenmokuu with a lighter secondary glaze.  Real depth in the darkness.        Multiple views of a green mokko with several different color accents.  Really nice crackle to the glaze also.  Man…..that is PINK!  Another pink pot with a splash of orange.  Russell?Brilliant yellow Footed and flared oval.  Seizan’s yellows are some of the best and cleanest.  Two tone cream rectangle with bottom belt and lip.  Really nice depth for a single color glaze can be achieved with more than one firing.  Remember that pink?  Wow….that’s RED!  Seizan’s reds are some of the cleanest and brightest I have seen.    A flambé glaze square from my collection.  Really nice two tone red and cream. A really great light green glazed six sided pot.  A little darker than celadon, I haven’t seen this color from any other artist.  Ikkou’s greens come close, but it’s a hair darker.

Painted Pots

Seizan has been painting containers for a very short amount of time.  That makes it all the more impressive that these are so nice.  You’ll note that all the paintings are homages: like most Japanese artists, of any form, Seizan is learning to paint by copying great and famous works from history and scrolls.   A scene from the anthropomorphic Chojugiga scrolls.       More Chojugiga.  These are classical and whimsical subjects for bonsai containers.

And Then there are These…..these are available if anyone is interested, feel free to drop me a line.  The full 55 container set is available piecemeal….hurry though I doubt they’ll be available for long!    


This is a small selection of the full set of Ando Hiroshige’s famous “53 Stations of the Tokaido Road”, with the corresponding woodblock prints of the original.  All of the greatest painters and carvers have done versions of the “Stations”, including Sano Daisuke, Bigei, Chazan, Tosui, Shousen, and Tsukinowa Yusen.

Seizan’s versions are incredibly detailed for such small Shohin containers, and stand up well to the originals.  The yellow glaze and nicely done inset panels really set them off.  Really excellent work.  Hurry!

Hope you’ve enjoyed another look at Shunka Seizan!  Thanks for reading!



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Bushuan 5

Shigeru Fukuda is one of my favorite contemporary Japanese potters, and has been featured numerous times on the blog. 

For previous posts, click here: Bushuan Posts. 

He is quite famous in Japan, although not because of bonsai and pottery.  He’s something akin to the Japanese Dale Earnhart, as he’s the winningest Japanese auto racer in history, with more than 60 wins.  He currently owns the Kawaguichi Auto Racing track in Saitama.  

Insofar as hispottery is concerned, it’s said that’s he’s the “reincarnation of Heian Tofukuji”, for his diversity of form, unique glazes, and exceptional depth.

  Here, Kunio Kobayashi prepares a stone display at Shunkaen with Bushuan Suiban.  That’s Fukuda Shigeru to the left.  

Now, on to the pots!



     Multiple Views of an outstanding crackle yellow glazed Tetsu Gakken style rectangle with painted and carved bamboo and tiger.  Simply gorgeous.          A spectacular rectangle with multiple color glazes.  A riot of beatiful glazes.  Truly unique style and execution.    A more muted Multi color glazed square in earth tones with just a hint of blue.   


   One from my collection.  A really nice yellow glazed rectangle with significant crystal formation.  This container is difficult to photograph.  The amount and complexity of the crystals is outstanding.

IMG_3353    An outstanding round with full cloud feet and darker multicolor glaze.  Complex and beautiful.    A tall jingasa(hat shape) with running green glaze.    Bushuan Oribe, with his characteristic heavy notes of blue cobalt.  Another Oribe, in round bag shape.  Showing less blue and more of a multi color effect.   A really lovely shinsa red, in a classical oval with terraced feet.    Just too much say here…..the spiral fluting makes this piece and it’s glaze wild.  Breathtaking.      Another Oribeish glaze.  This one showing some great crystal structures around the rim.  The center braid really sets this piece off.Another really exceptional drippy red, with notes of pinks….good lord that’s a lot of different reds.  I’ve seen a couple of these highly textured glazed rounds.  Now this is a use of texture I can totally back.IMG_1013Another from my collection, green Oribe with cloud feet and a lovely crackle.IMG_9803    A last from my own hoard: a really lovely rich blue over Oribe.  This is a tiny piece at 3″ but guaranteed to be a show stopper nonetheless…. 

Wow……nuff said.
Another painted and carved piece, this is an exceptional Oribe rectangle on multiple levels.          And we’ll finish up with this streaky blue rectangle…..crackle, drippy blue-green glaze, bottom glaze, carved handles…..this has it all; a true masterpiece in every sense.

Hope you’ve enjoyed another look at the pottery of Shigeru Fukuda, Thanks For Reading!


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Ino Shukuho, Part 2

Ino Shukuho is a legacy of 3 generations of potters, each with different styles and techniques.  The current Shukuho, Ino Yoshiki, was born in 1943.  His father, Ino Kiichiro, was a purveyor for the Imperial Houshokd, and was close friends with Heian Tofukuji; many of Tofukuji’s greatest later works were fired in the Shukuho kiln.  Shukuho has won numerous prizes and awards, and his containers are some of the most popular for Shohin bonsai in Japan.  The vast majority are carved from a single block of Kyoto clay, leaving production levels very low due to the labor intensive nature of the method.

Many works were commissioned bY Takeyama San of Fuyo En, who was a driving force behind some of the kiln’s later designs.  It’s said that 3rd Generation Shukuho’s Oribe Glaze is virtually identical to Tofukuji’s.  

Now on to the pots!


A fairly typical example of Shukuho Oribe glaze.  The light tan colored Kyoto clay body really helps the greens and blues shine.

Another Oribe, this one showing quite a bit more blue streaking over the green. 
Really fantastic rectangle with a metallic cream and greenish red glaze.  

Standard rectangle Oribe with cut feet, showing a significant amount of crystal formation.    

A really unique hand formed piece with a met takin silverish glaze.

Rare mokko shape in a darker green with crystals.  
Lovely oval in light blue and green.    

A rare and exceptional Suiban in Oribe green with blue touches.  

A light blue rectangle with cut corners and speckling. 

A really six-sided cascade in Oribe green with crystals.  

Nanban style Oribe.

A rarer style rectangle in Oribe with cut corners and great crystal speckling.  

For comparison, a world class Tofukuji Oribe in a similar shape and glaze.
A great rectangle with cut corners, lip, and cloud feet in an excellent Canton style ruri indigo blue. 


Oval Oribe showing significant blue highlights.  Lovely glaze.


An interesting Oribe blue with some texture under the glaze. 

A much rarer relief carved celadon porcelain six sided container.  Excellent relief work and beautiful celadon porcelain.
While these traditional Kyo-style overgraze enameled and painted pieces are more typical of first and second generation Shukuho works, some exist from third generation as well.  

And We’ll finish up here….with this Satsuki at the top left, Kokufu Sho Prize winner, in a Shukuho container.

That’s one sweet Satsuki!  And the Shukuho matches it perfectly.   

Wow.  That’s nebari.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this look at Shukuho bonsai containers.  Thanks for reading!

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