Matuei Kimiko

Born January 28, 1929, Matuei Kimiko first began making containers in 1973. She was self taught in the beginning of her career, and her early work is primarily pinch pots and sharply contrasts with the higher refinement of later work. This step up into more refined pieces came under the tutelage of a later teacher: the esteemed Hayashi Toujaku.
Her work is said to have a distinctly feminine feel to it, and is pretty stylistically varied. Mostly she is known for her pattern relief and carved pots, although she made many glazed and unglazed pieces as well. Her pieces are extraordinarily rare, as pottery dealer and collector Matt Ouwinga remarked to me recently that they were “as rare as hen’s teeth.” Despite the rarity of her works, she is one of the most influential female bonsai potters of the 20th century.
I’m going to keep this one brief and just post a gallery, as I haven’t been able to put together a more detailed post over the last couple of weeks due to illness(I couldn’t post at all last week). Anyway, Enjoy!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this gallery of bonsai pots by Matuei Kimiko. Thanks for reading!

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Patina, Part 1, Philosophy and Gallery

I once heard a well known American bonsai potter state that patina on bonsai pottery is just dirt, cracks, and chips. It isn’t. For starters, cracks and chips are not patina, they’re defects. Second, patina is more than just dirt. Dirt can be easily cleaned, relatively speaking, from a container, while patina takes serious work to remove.
So what is patina, then? From a literal standpoint, patina on bonsai pottery is a very thin film of oxidized very small particles of substrate, dust, oils, and solid fertilizer that builds in a very particular way over a very long time with use. In a less literal sense, patina is visible age.
One thing that is often overlooked in the West is the Japanese idea that ‘the dignity of the pot should suit the dignity of the tree.’ In this sense, dignity encompasses visual age, value, and aesthetics. In a great composition, the tree should appear as if it could have been in that container it’s whole life.
Patina is very important to us as Bonsai artists as our most common goal is to create compositions that invoke the image or evoke the feeling of majestic aged trees in nature, in miniature. A container with ‘visible age’, patina, is necessary to achieve this goal.
In this sense, patina can be thought of as “the Yamadori of Bonsai containers.” Why do we appreciate Yamadori? It certainly isn’t the ease of styling or collecting. It’s the visual, and often visceral, appearance of great age that trees collected from the mountains have, which gets us halfway there to our goal of creating an image that calls to mind majestic aged trees in nature. Real age will always be more visually convincing and compelling than our attempts to imitate it. The pots we choose to present our trees are no different. A container that is actually old, and appears so, gets us that much closer to the goal of our compositions.
Visually, patina is a darkening of the surface of the container that begins at the rim and the base and moves towards the center. Raised areas will develop patina faster than recessed areas, as will rougher surfaces. The rougher the surface the faster patina will build. In general, porcelain pots have the smoothest surfaces, followed by glazed pots, then unglazed pots. Practically, this means that a very groggy, rough unglazed container will get a decent, visible patina with a decade or so of use, a burnished unglazed pot may take two or more decades, a glazed container will take three decades, and a painted porcelain pot could take four decades or more.
There is such a thing as too much patina. Eventually, a container reaches a point where it is no longer recognizable. For example, cream and green glazed pots become totally coffee colored or brown, and cannot be used as cream and green glazed pots. At that point, they are often very carefully cleaned by professionals, exposing the center of the container and returning the container to its original aesthetic function. Many of the containers in this post have been at least partially cleaned at some point.

Let’s look at some examples of patina. Thanks as always go to Matthew Ouwinga for use of some photos, as well as Tim Priest.

Cream glazed Shirocochi Nakawatari round with braided rope rim and center band. Cream and green glazed pots have the easiest patina to appreciate, as patina shows up most easily on lighter colored glazes.
Another Nakawatari shirocochi pot. In this example you can easily see how patina builds on the lip, base, and raised areas.
Yellow glazed square by Kyokusei with incised corners and tanzaku panel showing a great deal of patina. This container was likely used since it’s creation 3 or 4 decades ago.
Ki-kinyo Rinka Nakawatari container(yellow glaze flower shape pot from the Yuzhou kilns in Heian province China, middle crossing period).
Detail. Signs of previous cleaning are readily apparent on this piece.
Kowatari unglazed rectangle container.
Cream crackle glaze Heian Tofukuji oval.
Nakawatari Kinyo Yaki octagon with raised panels inside inset panels.
Unglazed Shudei Nakawatari container with excellent rim patina.
Nakawatari Kinyo rectangle container with bottom band.
Contemporary Yoshimura Shuho cream glazed oval. A good example of how much Patina is possible with 30-40 years of use.
Detail of the patina.
Ruri glazed book Tofukuji rectangle pot. Photo courtesy Tim Priest.
Nakawatari Namako glazed fukuroshiki shape pot. In this and the previous example, you can see that patina is much more difficult to readily see on darker glazes.
Tsukinowa Yusen unpainted porcelain square with heavy patina.
Cream glazed Nakawatari Cochin rectangle with incised corners and very deep patina.
Tsukinowa Yusen made Shinano Chazan painted rectangle.
Unglazed Nakawatari Shudei rectangle with lip and half cloud feet.
Modern Hattori made oval with cut feet.
Upside down view of the Hattori.
Antique Japanese Owari Yaki painted porcelain oval with excellent patina.
Fukuroshiki shape unglazed antique Chinese.
Miyazaki Isseki painted porcelain go-sai with good patina. Patina like this on porcelain takes 30-40 years of continual use.
Detail. This image is from Ando Hiroshige’s 8 Views of Omi, “Hira Mountains”.
Detail of another side. From the same work by Hiroshige, “Ishiyama”.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this first article and gallery on patina. In future posts we’ll look at how to improve patina on our own pots and various examples of faux patina.

Thanks for Reading!

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Pots by Shigeru Zyubei 4

His real name is 濱田 重章(Shigeru Hamada) and his kiln/potter’s name is “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 bonsai 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.
There are three other articles and galleries on the site dedicated to this artist, if you’d like to see and read more check out the table of contents.

Award winning entry at the Kobachi Contemporary Artists Exhibition.
Another entry from the Annual Kobachi at Gafu Ten, from 2020, number 15. You’ll see some of the glazes Zyubei is playing with at this stage in his career in these pots echoed in this display, a slight departure from what he is known for.
A smoky glazed very soft rectangle with interesting patterning.
Vibrant blue taiko(drum) shape with rivets and some nice running and pooling effects.
Extremely bold multicolored glaze with bright yellows ranging to dark blue.
Oribe green with blue accents on a shallow taiko with rivets and some great microcrystal formation.
These painted mame(bean) sized pots are collaborations between Zyubei and his wife. Charming pink mini with flowers.
Awesome light blue with darker blue and yellow accents and incised lip.
Pinkish red with excellent patterning.
Lipstick red with cream and gold accents.
Whimsical mini painted yellow mame with flowers.
Round with deep and rich blue Canton style glaze.
Red, Pink, and Cream drip glazed oval.
Hexagon Shohin with a riot of color and crystals.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this gallery of the work of Shigeru Zyubei. Check the table contents for more articles and galleries on this blog favorite artist.

Thanks for reading!

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Koto Chukan

Like so many other great bonsai potters Fukuda Tadahiro was originally just a serious bonsai enthusiast who began by making containers for his own trees and enjoyment. Eventually he assumed the potter name Koto Chukan. He has been practicing Shohin bonsai for more than 40 years now, and has exhibited displays in the Gafu Ten Shohin Exhibition more than 30 times.
Currently, he lives and works in Kyoto. He only uses Shigaraki clay, owing to his training, where he learned under the guidance of Mr. Miho, a Shigaraki traditional craftsman potter.
As a bonsai container artist, Chukan is known for using unique twists on classical patterns so that the pots best suit bonsai. His awards in pottery exhibitions, including the exclusive Contemporary Artists Kobachi Exhibition held each year at Gafu Ten, are numerous. His technical skill with clay is as impressive as his unique glazing ability. Koto Chukan containers are handmade, rare, and one of a kind, as you will see from the following gallery, and as such can command pretty impressive prices for a living artist.
There used to be an excellent biography and awesome artist mark sheet(Chukan had a lot of marks!) for Koto Chukan on the Kojoen(a Kyoto Shohin Bonsai garden)website, but it was deleted when they redid their site. If you got to read it while it was still up you know a lot more about this artist than this article will give you.
Special thanks to Alex “Mai Bonsai” Rudd of the EBPC for use of some of his photos.

Awesome red tenmoku flower glaze with blooming crystals. Definitely a one of a kind glaze on a beautiful pot.
One from my collection, this Chukan was a happy surprise accident. I think I picked it up on an auction at a third of normal auction value. Cool color variations in blues and greens and nice microcrystals.
Koto Chukan display at the 11th Kobachi Exhibition.
And another from the 10th Annual Kobachi Artists Exhibition. Impressive glazes and complicated shapes on these pieces. The center rinka shape with peach blossom glaze and cat’s paw feet is my favorite.
Ao uwagasuri (green-blue glaze) rectangle with sliptrail underglaze decorations.
An incredibly detailed relief carved unglazed rectangle with rounded cut corners, formerly of my collection, that I regret selling! The only unglazed and most detailed carved pot I’ve seen from the artist.
Elongated mokko with an awesome mottled flambé glaze showing reds, pinks, and creams.
Hexagon glazed with reds and pinks with highly detailed relief carving and interesting base.
Mokko shape with swirling yohen Takatori Yu style glaze.
Flambé red glazed rectangle with thick thunder border decorated rim, incised corners, half cloud feet, and underglaze nail carving. A strong pot.
Japanese maple leaf pattern window decorated rectangle with blue green glaze, incised corners, and cut feet.
Hand carved single block rectangle with flower decoration and half cloud feet.
Red square with nail carved border on lip and abstract nail carved decoration.
Another formerly of my collection, a yellow crackle glazed oval with cut feet showing off Chukan’s unique tan Shigaraki clay.
Ruri glazed round with relief carving and nawa buchi(fun to say, this is a braided rope style lip).
Hand carved rectangle with sansui nail carving and thunder pattern decorated feet.
Blue oribe glaze with relief sculpted waves, fish, and unglazed cut feet.
Interesting elongated mokko shape with a very well executed oil spot tenmoku glaze. This glaze is much more difficult to get right like this than it seems.
Darker red and cream flambé with traditional sukashiburi fretwork carving.
Another from my collection, this is the smallest Chukan I’ve had at 3.5”.
Chicken blood red glazed rectangle with half cloud feet and nade kaku sumi iri(incised soft corners).
Green oribe yohen glazed shallow hexagon. Great depth to the glaze on this piece and a unique shape.
Pink, cream, and orange glazed mokko with full cloud feet and lip. An absolutely fabulous glaze on this piece.
Koto Chukan’s common stamps.
Square stamp, “Chukan”.
Butterfly Stamp and signature “Koto Chukan”.
“Koto Chukan” signature.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the one of a kind Shohin bonsai pottery of Koto Chukan. Stay tuned for more artist profiles and galleries of artists we’ve covered in the past in future posts!

Thanks for reading!

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Retrospective:Where Has This Guy Been for 5 Years?

The title for this post is pretty self explanatory. Today I’ll answer the question of where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to since I stopped publishing articles and blogs here nearly 5 years ago. I felt my passion slipping away then, so I decided, for a while, to focus instead on lecturing in person, and to go to shows, not just as a vendor, but as an enthusiast. My goal was to rekindle my love of bonsai and bonsai pottery and rediscover the passion that had become jaded and sharp from the business of it all. And it was a decided success.
Let’s take a look at the highlight reel of some of the places I’ve been, some friends I’ve met along the way, and some of what I’ve seen since I’ve been away from the site! Don’t worry, once you pass through the gauntlet of pictures of my ugly mug there ware more pots and trees to look forward to at the end!

Charity Work

With my partner Dave Paris, along with the Beer, Wine, and Cheese and Bonsai Auctions Facebook groups, over the last 5 years charity work for members of the community is easily the thing I’m most proud of. We’ve raised well over $60,000 with combinations of Gofundme pages and Facebook auctions of items donated by generous members of the community. We’ve championed many causes, ranging from a new car for Nestor Torres, to the fairly recent Owen Reich home fire, to helping with Roy Minarai’s daughter’s medical bills, among many others. Watching the bonsai community come together and give to others in the art in need has been wonderful to behold and always reminds me that the people are the thing I love most about bonsai.

To recognize my services to the community in Charity work and in providing free pottery information through the site and database, I was made a Bonsai Angel at the 2018 National Exhibition. An exclusive honor that comes with a lovely Gold pin….it was the first and will be the last time anyone calls me an Angel. Never been so humbled in my life…nor have I ever been speechless.

Big Exhibition Lectures

Since the last article I published before this year, in March 2016, I’ve spoken at dozens of clubs and societies, along with several larger National, Regional, and State Level Exhibitions. In that nearly 5 year span, I’ve lectured at 2 US National Bonsai Exhibitions, 2 US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibitions, the UK National Exhibition, the Lone Star Bonsai Federation state exhibition, the Mid America Bonsai Alliance Regional Exhibition, the American Bonsai Society Exhibition in St. Louis, and was one of the headliners at the 2019 Golden State Bonsai Federation California state exhibition. It’s been an absolute blast to meet enthusiasts from all over the US and Europe at these Exhibitions and an honor to speak at them.

Speaking at the 2016 US National Bonsai Exhibition.
At the 2018 US National Bonsai Exhibition.
My Fukushige 7 point pottery display from the 2017 1st US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition.
Speaking at the 2019 2nd US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition.
Matthew Ouwinga, Myself, and Bill Valavanis at the 1st National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition with a selection of masterpiece pots from the Ouwinga Collection.
“This guy”, Matthew Ouwinga, generously brings a selection of the finest bonsai containers ever made for use in my National lectures.
It’s almost impossible to truly understand why masterpiece containers are what they are, and why they cost what they cost, from photos. Allowing public display at my lectures of some of the best examples of containers made by artists like Heian Tofukuji, Kouzan, Tsukinowa Yusen, Daisuke, and others Matt has done the community a great service, and I owe him a serious debt of gratitude.
Nowhere else in the West open to the public can you examine true masterpieces and Japanese Cultural Treasures of bonsai pottery other than these lectures. One day I hope that Matthew opens a museum in Maryland.
From the 2nd US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition. I’m explaining that the container I’m touching is the only container Heian Tofukuji ever signed with his real name.
A National tradition, the Coquito toast, with good friends Nestor Torres, Roy Minarai, and Chris Denton at my booth at the 1st US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition.
Louise Leister, Sean Smith, Mike Lebanik, Andy Youtz, Nestor Torres, Roy Minarai, Dave Paris, Me, Stacey Macey, and Trisha Walters relaxing after a long day at the US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition.
Speaking at Bonsai Europa, the UK National Bonsai Exhibition, to a standing room only crowd. A great exhibition and a fantastic time, compliments of Tony Tickle and Bury.
Best in Show and Best Shohin awards(also my favorite), 7 point display by friends Mark and Ritta Cooper at the UK National Bonsai Exhibition
For my co-headlining appearance at the GSBF California state exhibition, a full room was dedicated to a pottery exhibition I put together, with a later critique given by myself and Taiga Urushibata.
Well over a hundred pots and display tables were brought in by GSBF members for me to choose from to create a full room display, along with a couple dozen I literally stole from a generous vendor(thanks again to Nathan Simmons).
One of my two displays, a 6 point display of Fukushige.
Tofukuji(top), Seifu Yohei cup(middle), Ikkou(bottom), Ichiyou(on root stand, right, not shown).
Snapshot with caption of my lecture stolen from Bjorn Bjorholm’s YouTube video summarizing the LSBF Texas state convention.
BBQ Dinner after the LSBF Texas state convention. Clockwise from left: Me, Sylvia and Howard Smith, Daisaku Nomoto, and Juan Andrade.
With Joseph McCoy at my booth at the LSBF state convention.
The infamous LSBF Pub Committee. I really don’t recognize everyone, but that’s me in the center, Daisaku Nomoto, Juan Andrade, Howard Smith, and Bjorn Bjorholm on the left, and May Lau and Hoe Chuah sitting on the right.
With my carpool buddy, potter Byron Myrick, at MABA in Indianapolis, holding the Roy Minarai pot he won that I had donated for the auction.

Club Lectures and Nursery Events

I’ve been a guest lecturer at several dozen clubs, nurseries, societies, and associations over the last 5 years in the US and the UK. It’s been a real pleasure, not only to teach in so many different places, but to meet people in the community from such diverse regions and see the differences in how they practice bonsai and the differences in their taste in pottery.

Alex Rudd’s(Mai Bonsai) European Bonsai Potter Collective and Harry Harrington’s Bonsai4Me arranged for me to do a special private lecture just outside of London.
Held in a private room down the pub, it was a fun and informal lecture. Above we have Sean Stolp, Alex Rudd, Me, Richard Lock, Harry Harrington, Mark Choney, Thor Holvila and Carina Jern. Several potters other than Thor were in attendance as well, including David and Mark from Walsall Studio and Roman Husmann, who drove 5 hours out of his way home to Germany to see the lecture after seeing the first one I did in Manchester!
3 nerds sitting around Alex Rudd’s house discussing…what else? Bonsai pots!
Every Year I’ve attended except for the last 2(2019 for health reasons and 2020 for Covid) I speak and vend at Brussel’s Bonsai Rendezvous event. With Todd Schlafer and Amy Blanton.
Matt Ouwinga and Rodney Clemmons on stage for the nightly 3 artist dueling demos. Probably my favorite annual event, Brussell Martin always brings in 3 of the best artists in the World, along with the 3 world class regulars that are there every year(Kathy Shaner, Marc Noelanders, and Rodney Clemmons).
With amazing Czech artist Vaclav Novak, Jim Doyle, Libby Tisdale, and Seth Behner at a brewery after one of my two lectures at the annual Nature’s Way Bonsai Open House on World Bonsai Day.
Vaclav Novak demos a Yamadori pine in bunjin style at Nature’s Way Nursery’s Open House.
Me grilling the highly erudite Dr. Hoe Chuah about Chinese bonsai containers, about which he’s forgotten more than I’ll ever know, at one of my 2 lectures at the Houston Bonsai Society.
I finally give up, throw my hands up, and admit I don’t know what I’m talking about at the Nashville Bonsai Society.
In Seattle with Josef Addis and his pottery collection, before my lecture at the Puget Sound Bonsai Association. Josef was nice enough to chauffeur me around to the Pacific Bonsai Museum, Dan Robinson’s Elandan Gardens, and Robert Cho’s Asia Pacific Imports with its giant selection of Cantonese containers(and a few very special pots from Mr. Su!).
At some point I did a two week lecture tour of California sponsored by GSBF, with 8 or so speaking dates between the Bay Area and LA. While I was in the Bay Area, somehow Jonas Dupuich and Eric Schrader convinced me to get in front of a video camera. You can see it here: Eric Schrader Interview for Phutu.
Enjoying Korean BBQ with several bonsai guys from LA. ‘Nel Son’, Robert Pressler, Tyler Ferrer, Javier Vallin, and Rishi Bissoon(behind the lens).
With Curator Ted Matson on a private working tour of Huntington Gardens. It was amazing to see the gardens while they were closed and we had the place to ourselves. Very cool to see trees and pots donated by many of the founders of Bonsai on the West coast like John Naka.
Doing some work appraising the museum’s pottery collection. I was able to get through around half in the few hours they had me to work, with help from Ted Matson and Michael Bullington.
Obligatory meal photograph taken by Boon Manakitivipart after an excellent Dim Sum lunch with Boon and Morten Wellhaven.
With Nathan Simmons and Doyle Saito after my lecture at Robert Pressler’s Kimura Bonsai Nursery.
Mark Levinstein peruses my sales table at the Dai Ichi Bonsai Kai lecture. Ben Griffin at lower right playing on his phone.

Pots, Bonsai, and Other Stuff

A few highlights and random photos of bonsai pottery I’ve seen, sold, bought, or been given in my travels in the last 5 years, along with a few photos of the many bonsai I’ve seen and other pics. Enjoy!

The Huntington Gardens Japanese Garden in Southern California. See what I mean by how awesome it was to be there when closed? Empty pathways and a clear view.
Huntington Gardens Chinese Garden. Probably the most impressive garden I’ve ever visited in the US. These photos barely scratch the surface of everything there; I could fill this entire post with photos from Huntington alone. The giant viewing stones in the Chinese style garden are absolutely incredible. Must see.
One of many photos I took of the GSBF Bonsai Museum at Lake Merritt in Oakland. Many historical Bonsai in the collection, some dating back to importation for the 1908 World’s Fair.
Gorgeous antique British Agateware at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The V&A houses one of the most extensive and comprehensive pottery collections in the world.
Antique Chinese Hare’s Fur, Partridge Feather, and Oil Spot glazes in the above 3 photos.
Amazing antique Chinese Oxblood, Peach Blossom, and Flambé glazes at the A&V Museum.
Nakawatari Cream Crackle formerly of the Takagi collection. I’ve seen very few of these that were real, had to have it.
Collected one seed junipers and deadwood details at Deep Forest Gallery outside of Dallas.
Gigantic bald cypress, formerly one of Guy Guidry’s trees, now at Deep Forest Gallery.
Awesome glaze on a uniquely shaped pot gifted to me by Beau Venne.
Pots and pots and pots! One of several display and sales areas for containers at Nature’s Way Nursery.
Incredible California juniper that was in the process of being restyled at the Huntington Gardens Museum.
A gift from Patricia of PAS pottery when I was in England. I’d begged to buy one of her reds made in Shigaraki for years…finally she just gave up and gave me one.
Giant Ashe Juniper, named “King of the Hill”, collected and styled by Howard and Sylvia Smith at the LSBF state convention.
The two pics above were part of my sales booth at the 1st US National Shohin Bonsai Exhibition.
Very famous Nick Lenz bonsai at the Pacific Bonsai Museum.
Japanese Beech at the Pacific Bonsai Museum. Easily the best in the US and one of my favorites on display.
Unglazed cascade pot with pure silver rivets I was given the opportunity to buy from Andrew Pearson of Stone Monkey Pottery. This was one of the pots Andrew displayed at the 11th Kobachi Artists Exhibition in Japan.
Awesome Raft style at the UK National Exhibition.
A really cool Tsukinowa Yusen with a greenish crawling glaze. I parted ways with this one somewhere….regret it.
Fantastic Kutani Ikko I also sold somewhere along the way, another I wouldn’t have minded keeping.
Large marked Kowatari Chinese cascade Canton pot, with very old kiri bako and a custom fitted stand for a perfect and tight fit in the box. This one isn’t going anywhere.
And we’ll finish up with a California Juniper by the great John Naka at the GSBF Bonsai Museum at Lake Merritt.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek at what I’ve been up to in the last several years since the articles stopped. Next Monday’s scheduled post we’ll be back to the old standby Artist profile, with future articles coming up on Patina, Cost and Value, and Yuuga, plus many artist profiles!

Thanks for reading!

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Modern Containers, Traditional Motifs Part 2

This is the 200th Post for the blog! I was just going to phone it in, and do a retrospective. Instead, I figured, why not a special post, why not a treat on a special day, with an additional treat of special and fascinating subject matter.
In this week’s regular Monday article, we looked at traditional motifs that frequently appear on bonsai containers and come from hand scrolls, folding screens and statues, myths, and legends. In this post we will look at traditional motifs that are derived from the famous ukiyo-e(woodblock prints) of Ando Hiroshige and Katsushita Hokusai.

The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō 

The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō are a series of woodblock prints by Utagawa Hiroshige(born Ando Hiroshige) made in 1833-1834. He created the prints after his first journey upon the Tōkaidō road, where he was part of an official party escorting a gift of horses for the Imperial court.
The Tōkaidō road was a major trade and travel artery through Japan, connecting Edo to the capital at the time, Kyoto. The stations along the Tōkaidō road were way stations for travelers and merchants to restock supplies, eat, and rest. While Hiroshige created more than 30 versions of the prints, the Hōeidō version is the original and most famous, and also the source material most often used for depictions on bonsai containers.

The 16th print, 15th post, Kanbara, A Village in the Snow. Likely my favorite print from the series.
A depiction of Kanbara by blog favorite Shunka Seizan. I always expect to see more winter images on bonsai pottery, given that the Gafu Ten is in January, but they’re surprisingly rare.
Kanbara, A Village in the Snow painted on a suiban by Sano Daisuke. Incredibly detailed.
A cascade piece depicting the 15th station painted by Hayashi Toujaku.
Another winter depiction, clearly inspired by Kanbara from Sano Daisuke.
Kanbara as painted by Echizen Hosui.
Most of a full series of the 53 Stations painted by Tsukinowa Yusen, considered the greatest bonsai pottery painter ever to have lived. This set was made a Shohin National Treasure in 2015 and was displayed that year at the Gafu Ten. Better images can be seen in the album Yuuga(I think? They may have been added too late), the second volume which records Shohin National Treasures(the first being Miyabi).
Leaving Edo: Nihonbashi, (The bridge of Japan), the first print of the series.
A version of Leaving Edo, nail carving in panel by Bigei.
Hokusai’s first print in the series as painted by Tosui, Mizuno Shikao.
A yellow glazed window version painted by Shunka Seizan.
A full set of The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō painted by Tosui, 3rd Generation, Mizuno Shikao.
The 38th Station, Okazaki
A suiban with the 38th Station painted by Sano Daisuke.
Okazaki as painted by Miyazaki Isseki. Hiroshige’s works often feature on Isseki containers.
Kakegawa station as depicted by Shohachi.
10th station : Hakone (High rocks by a lake)
The 10th Station as depicted by 3rd Generation Tosui, Mizuno Shikao, on a suiban.
Detail view of one of the stations painted by Miyazaki Isseki.
Detail view of the 12th station by Tsukinowa Shosen, grandson of Yusen.
The 48th station, Sakashita, as painted by Miyazaki Isseki, with his typical unique use of negative space.
An almost chaotic depiction by Shinano Chazan in his own unmistakable style.
Last for our look at bonsai pottery interpretations of The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō is a full set of Suiban painted by Sano Daisuke, with Ruri glaze. A fantastic set, and only a handful of sets of Daisuke’s 53 Stations, containers or suiban, remain. The vast majority were separated for individual sale. Somewhere floating around here in the United States a full set of rectangles of the stations by Daisuke is for sale, unseparated, for just at 6 figures…
Two Hiroshige from the 53 Stations followed by a Van Gogh, just to show exactly how much these prints have influenced Western art as much as Eastern art and bonsai pottery.

The 36 Views of Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is considered a symbol of Japanese National identity, and is sacred in Japanese religious tradition. Perhaps no other visual representations of “Fuji San”(Mr. or Sir Fuji, an often heard referral showing respect and deference) is more emblematic than Katsushita Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji. The multicolor woodblock prints depict Mount Fuji from various views and locations, with surrounding towns and environments, and in differing weather. These iconic woodblock prints(ukiyo-e) were created at the height of Hokusai’s career, from 1830 to 1833. The vast majority of bonsai container depictions from the 36 Views are of Fine Wind, Clear Morning, Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit, and The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, although many other scenes do appear regularly.

Fine Wind, Clear Morning, the second of Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji
A classical example of Fine Wind, Clear Morning on unglazed Shudei painted by Katsushita Kodou.
A more free form depiction from 3rd Generation Tosui, Mizuno Shikao, in the signature Tosui style.
A version of Fine Wind, Clear Morning from Tani Ranzan on rectangle in Ranzan’s own unique painting style.
Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit, the 3rd print from Hokusai’s 36 Views.
A depiction of Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit from Daisuke friend and pupil Toho(Shuji Shimada)
A recent gold award winning piece from the 16th Contemporary Kobachi Artists exhibition, painted by Junichi Nakayama. More on this artist and show in an upcoming article.
Depiction of Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit by Yoshiyuki Kawada, part of his full set of Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji. You can view them all on his Facebook page.
Fujikake Yuzan go-sai hexagon. Very unlike his usual style and the source material. A fascinating piece.
Fuji View Field in Owari Province, the 9th print from Hokusai’s 36 Views.
Another from Yoshiyuki Kawada’s full set of Hokusai’s masterpiece woodblock prints, showing the 9th View.
Tosui, Mizuno Shikao. As far away from Kawada’s version above as one can get.
Enoshima in Sagami Province, the 17th of Hokusai’s series of views of Mount Fuji
Kawada’s take on Hokusai’s 17th print from The 36 Views of Mount Fuji. Very well sculpted, with fine details despite the difference in scale from the original.
A version from Fujikake Yuzan, part of his own complete set of Hokusai’s 36 Views.
Detail view from Tama River in Musashi Province painted by Fujikake Yuzan, from the same set as the container above.

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa

Katsushita Hokusai’s The Great Wave Off Kanagawa. Considered to be the most famous and recognizable piece of Japanese art in the World.

While The Great Wave Off Kanagawa is actually a part of Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji series, it deserves its own section due to its fame and the frequency with which it appears on bonsai containers. The print dates to the late Edo period, 1829-1833, and depicts 3 boats battling a giant rogue wave in the Sagami bay, with Fuji San in the background.

A fantastic depiction by 3rd generation Tosui, Mizuno Shikao. Painted in his unique style, which usually isn’t to my taste, but this is one of my favorite versions.
A Classical interpretation painted by Toho(Shuji Shimada).
An interesting depiction giving more prominence to Mount Fuji painted by Tani Ranzan.
A very traditional depiction carved by Ameniya Shinobu.
Awesome celadon glazed piece from Tadashi Ono, the best sculptor of bonsai containers of the current generation.
A taller cascade painted by Ishida Shoseki. The brushwork is excellent and I quite like the foot details.
Three very different interpretations of Hokusai’s Great Wave by Yoshiyuki Kawada. Excellent examples showing the versatility with which classical motifs can be depicted on modern bonsai containers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my 200th post, and reading about the traditional woodblock prints that inspire modern bonsai container art. In the next installment of the series, we’ll look at shapes and details to pots that have named origins, be they individual artists, kilns, or eras.

Thanks for reading!

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Modern Containers, Traditional Motifs Part 1

Like bonsai itself, bonsai pottery is filled with classical designs and traditional motifs. Visual motifs like paintings and carvings on bonsai containers often come from famous paintings, poems, and prints. Stylistic motifs like shapes and details(say of the feet, or rim) can come from individual artists and be named after them or from specific eras. In this series of articles, we’ll look at the origins of often seen classical and traditional motifs and styles as well a variety of examples. I’ll keep the critique on the pots to a minimum on this one as it’s already run a bit long!


A Little History:
The Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga, commonly called the Chojugiga, is an ancient Japanese cultural property and National Treasure owned by the Kozan-Ji temple and dates from the 12th to possibly 13th centuries. It is a series of painted hand scrolls featuring anthropomorphic, frolicking animals, magical humans, and samurai. Thieving monkeys, bathing rabbits, and wrestling frogs appear throughout, and these are the elements of the scrolls that find their way onto bonsai pottery often enough to be called traditional motifs. Originally the animal elements of the scrolls were whimsical and satirical representations of the priests of the time. The scrolls have been highly influential in Japanese art and culture, and are often credited as being the first manga. Some of the stylistic painting effects such as movement lines used by the artist are still in use in Manga in Japan today.

Frogs and rabbits wrestling, with the stamp of the Kozan-ji temple.
Rabbits and frogs chase a thieving monkey.
Depiction of the excerpt above by Ichinokura Sekisyu. Classical style, and the motif contrasts nicely to me with the more formal container.
A much simpler depiction with just the frog and rabbit painted by Owari Yuho, on a much more complex shape.
Oni footed round with a crisply painted version from the scrolls by Toho(Shuji Shimada).
A pair of glazed relief sculpted rounds with two animal figures from the scrolls by Ameniya Shinobu.
The most common depictions seen from the scrolls as painted by Shunka Seizan.
A later work painted by Daisuke and made by Ishida Shoseki, part of a series.
A very stylized, almost impressionistic depiction from Okumura Souzan.
Last but certainly not least, rabbit and frog with the Kozan-ji stamp by the master himself, Tsukinowa Yusen.

Raijin and Fujin

A Little History:
Raijin and Fujin are Japanese weather deities(Kami). Raijin is the god of thunder, storms, and lightning. Fujin is the god of the wind. Thought of as both protectors and destroyers, like many Japanese deities Raijin and Fujin are neither good nor bad. In a nation like Japan where natural disasters related to the weather are more commonplace than other societies with extensive mythologies, it’s difficult to see how two weather deities are thought of as protectors. Raijin’s positive aspects come from agriculture, as the bringer of storms and rain. Fujin’s good side is historically rooted in winds that twice decimated Mongol naval invasions in the 13th century.

The most common depictions on bonsai pottery come from folding screens painted by Tawaraya Sōtatsu. The works are considered emblematic of the Rinpa school of Japanese Painting and feature both painted color and gold foil.
Yoshiyuki Kawada’s gold award winning sculpted pieces featuring Raijin and Fujin.
An interesting version of the deities by Kutani Ikko, less classical than usually seen.
A highly detailed depiction of both deities with landscape painted by Ogurayama.
Fantastic carved depiction of the gods by Ameniya Shinobu. You can clearly see Raijin holding his hammers with drums surrounding him, and the windswept hair and bag of winds of Fujin.
Highly stylized depiction painted by Kyogoku Shiho showing Fujin in panel surrounded by geometrics.
Raijin by 3rd generation Tosui, Mizuno Shikao, in his usual highly identifiable style.
A more rustic depiction from Yuuki Shoseki. Very much unlike her usual style of painting.
The pair of deities from Chinese artist Sekizan. I like that the artist used a yellow glaze here as it does call to mind the gold foil from the original folding screens.
Interesting pair of go-sai(5 color) Fujin by Kutani Ikko on a beautifully made mokko by Bushuan.

The Fox’s Wedding

A Little History:
“On a day when the sun shines bright and the rain falls, wise parents advise their children to play indoors. It isn’t that they are worried about them catching a cold. No, it is something more mysterious. For on such days the kitsune, the magical foxes of Japan, hold their wedding processions.”-From the Hyakumongatori website.
The “kitsune no yomeiri”, or “Fox’s Wedding” in Japanese folklore is an explanation for unexplained forest lights or a ‘sunshower’(where it is raining but the sky is clear and the sun shining). Folklore surrounding the sunshower is fascinating reading. I’ve long been enamored of stories in folklore and fiction involving trickster gods and spirits, and they always seem to be associated with fairy lights and sunshowers.
For further reading on the Fox’s Wedding, I highly recommend the article on this site

Classical depiction of the Fox’s Wedding, showing the trickster foxes hiding their true guise throughout the procession, except for the front.
Another classical depiction, showing a long procession of Foxes and a surprise viewer hiding behind a tree.
Large painting by Fujikake Yuzan hanging in my pottery room, see my article A Hanging for more on this piece.
Another depiction from Fujikake Yuzan, an often seen motif from the artist, who I feel paints the best classical versions on bonsai containers.
Three depictions in mame/mini from Tosui, 3rd Generation, Mizuno Shikao, in varying colors and that signature Tosui style.
A more stylized depiction than is usually seen, by Joshu Katsuyama, a popular motif for this artist as well.
A classical version from perennial blog favorite(for his glazed pieces) Shunka Seizan.
A more classical depiction than his previous entry above, painted by Joshu Katsuyama.
A larger piece by the 3rd Generation Tosui, in his unmistakable style. These classical motifs are seen more often on Tosui containers than just about anyone.
Unique depiction painted by Ogurayama. Easily the most interesting of the lot to me, as it is more reminiscent of classical triptychs, scrolls, and woodblocks of the scene.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Part 1 in a series on classical motifs that appear frequently on bonsai containers. Almost all of the artists in this article have full articles devoted to them as well, check the Table of Contents if you’re interested in seeing more work from and learning more about any artist.
In future installments of this series we’ll look at famous woodblock prints like The 53 Stations of the Tokaido, The Great Wave Off Kanagawa and other Hokusai, as well as the origins of some named bonsai container styles and details.

Thanks for Reading!

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Joshu Katsuyama: Bang for your Buck Potters Part 3

He was born Ogiwara Katsuyoshi on December 8, 1937.
At first, he went by the artist/kiln name Ogiwara Shouzan, then changed it to Joshu Shouzan. He finally settled on Joshu Katsuyama, which is great for us because there are just too many Shouzan around and it gets confusing.

He was always an enthusiastic and talented artist, and when he decided to make his own shohin bonsai containers, he taught himself sometsuke(blue underglaze painting) and akae(red overglaze enamel painting). He began painting ceramics in his own studio in 1975.

His style of landscape and figure painting is heavily influenced by the Nanga style of painting from Southern China, as was Fujikake Yuzan(see previous article on blog). This leads many to think Katsuyama are Yuzan derivative, but really they’re contemporaries and both Chinese derivatives. The style can be slightly cartoonish, but is charming in its own unique way. His go-sai paintings are especially nice in this style, with some even rivaling the work of Yuzan, who is considered, along with Gekkou, to be the best of his generation. In addition to a variety of painting styles(sometsuke, akae, go-sai) Katsuyama is known for underside painting details on his pieces. Works without painting on the bottom are considered lesser pieces.

Considering that the prices of Katsuyama’s work versus stylistically similar artists like Yuzan are a third or less of the cost, this artist definitely belongs in the Bang For Your Buck Potters category. For a few hundred dollars, rather than a grand or two, you can acquire a container for your shelf or your Shohin bonsai that is worthy of admiration. They also retain value, and are always easy sells.

A go-sai(5 color) sansui rectangle showing excellent detail and the kind of Nanga influence we referred to earlier.
A sometsuke blue underglaze painted window container with multiple figures and a cliff side landscape. Excellent detail and interesting use of movement with the negative space and the direction the figures are facing.
Another go-sai, this one more typical of Katsuyama’s work than the rectangle previously shown. Less detailed but still a fantastic painted piece. The rim and feet details are especially nicely done.
Another Sometsuke painted container, this one a mokko with geometric designs at the inset points. While the brush work leaves a little to be desired, with some blurry bleed, still a great container for Shohin display.
Red and black overglaze enamel painting showing a much better use of negative space than the previous pieces. Excellent detail in a classical sansui landscape.
Sometsuke painting of the “Fox’s Wedding”, the Japanese folklore explanation for sun showers(rain when the sun is shining). A classical motif in bonsai container painting, most every artist has used the traditional design.
A tiny sometsuke mame pot with excellent detail for such a small space.
Another mame pot with bird. So tiny, so whimsical, so cute and well executed.
A slightly larger Ruri glazed inset panel square with landscape. The landscape on this one is a little less detailed than some of the other pieces we’ve looked at. The moderate bleed on the glaze is tolerable though, still a great piece for the price.
An akae overglaze enamel landscape with temple. Great details and use of white space. I really like the landscape motif on this piece. The cliff receding into the distance adds depth and breaks up the negative space, a great detail.
Another classical folklore scene of the Fox’s Wedding, this time a much better and more detailed version. In the American south, for a sun shower, we say “The devil is beating his wife.” It is surprising how many cultures associate sun showers with animals, especially foxes, in folklore.
A Winter scene based on Hiroshige Ando and the 53 Stations. We’ve talked about Ando’s famous woodblock prints many times here on the site. Like “Foxes Wedding”, the 53 Stations are classical motifs at which nearly every artist tries their hand.
Another gorgeous go-sai container with fantastic details and interesting positioning of the elements of the painting. The figures facing each other and the negative space on either side allows the side to be used for a bonsai with either left or right movement. Not commonly seen.
Two of the painted undersides that Joshu Katsuyama is famous for and has made somewhat of a signature of his more quality work. While the pieces without painted undersides are considered lesser works, they’re often just as nice, and can more easily fit a tight display budget.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my article on Joshu Katsuyama, he of so many names! Katsuyama is the first painter in my Bang for You Buck artists series, painted containers often being much more expensive than similar grades of glazed and unglazed bonsai pottery. But there are artists out there like Katsuyama that are affordable if you look!
Many more Bang for Your Buck articles coming in the future featuring potters every enthusiast can afford!

Thanks for reading!

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The 15th Annual Contemporary Kobachi Artist Exhibition Part 2

There were many notable entries other than the winners this year, a couple of which would definitely have been in contention for gold had it not been for accidental breakage before judging.

Roy Minarai
In the 14th Competition, American Roy Minarai took home the silver prize. Accidental breakage before judging but after setup squashed any hopes of placing this year. Still, the display reflects the great skill we have come to expect from Roy. A good variety of glazes and shapes in a nice display. The sango yu(coral red glaze) oval with the sculptured flowers is especially nice, both carving and glaze. Even with damage to the flowers, it was rumored that this display barely missed placing for the bronze award.
Made by Taiwanese professional photographer Thou Okuma, these intricate root stands caught my eye immediately. The excellent and consistent carving and variety of hardwoods used impress, especially given that he is self taught and has only been carving root stands since 2014.
Yoshiyuki Kawada
A great artist whose work only improves with time. One of the best carvers of his generation. Amazing that American popularity and a new kiln helped to accomplish this for such a worthy and talented artist. He took the gold prize in 2019 so was ineligible at this exhibition for award, but there’s no doubt these would have been contenders had they been in competition.
These unglazed containers were some of my favorites in the show. Takuzo Kishida has had a celebrated millennium, some of the highlights of which include multiple solo and duo exhibitions at the prestigious Takagi Bonsai Art Museum. Innovative details and highly technical precision characterize this display. The centerpiece handles really drew my attention, reminiscent of details of some of the more decorative antique Chinese containers.
Kiyoshi Koiwai
A friend on Facebook I recommend following. I always admire his work when he posts it. His shapes, while often classical, are not standard, sometimes bearing huge lips, and always great glazes. His recent microcrystalline glazes have brought him great accords. Gold award winner at the 12th Kobachi exhibition.
Shigeru Zyubei
Coming off of last years gold prize winning exhibit, his second, Zyubei was not eligible for award this year, but was guaranteed in to display. A favorite on the blog here, these Zyubei show a couple of the new glazes he has been featuring, and are available(as are others if you shoot me a message or email). Pictures never do Zyubei pots justice, they look much darker than they are and don’t show highlights, especially in a poor lighting environment like this.
A former student of Ishida Shoseki who began his apprenticeship in 1996, Hiroko Hanawa, who goes by Shosui, also studied with her daughter in law and successor Yuuki Shoseki beginning in 2007. A very colorful go-sai(5-color) duo of Wind and Thunder, Raijin and Fujin, classical deities and common subjects in Japanese bonsai pottery painting motif.
Jean-Philippe Koenig
Hailing from the Alsace region of France, Mr. Koenig is one of five Western potters to participate this year, a record! In the 1980s he began bonsai and pottery in Japan and then spent time in Australia, where he worked as a pastry chef to fund his pottery studies. A nice trio of rounds with a distinctly European vibe to the glazes.
Haruhisa Totsuka
The form and clay color of this potter’s work is always excellent. In 2013, he inherited the kiln of his late teacher, the best bonsai pottery sculptor of his generation, Sruga Yamasyou. After winning 2018’s 13th exhibition silver prize, he went home empty handed. The trio is fantastic though, the feet and bases are especially unique and special.
Boris Lomov
Another entry from a Western artist, the first I believe, from down under. Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Mr. Lomov’s entry fared very well in comparison to the other category entries. Nice glazes and I really like the painted Chojugiga(Japanese classical anthropomorphic animal motif) painting on the center pot.
Kouhouko Kiln
Given name Fānglǐyǒng, was trained in the famous Jingdezhen kilns in China. A great presentation of containers with charming decorations. A good variety of shapes and painting techniques are shown as well. A whimsical and simple trio that reminds me of older containers. He wants his work to reflect the harmony of Chinese and Japanese pots studied in exhibition books.
Tomatsuri Shunpou
At 87 years old, Tosai Tokeshi, whose kiln name is Tomatsuri Shunpou, has been practicing Satsuki bonsai for 57 years, and has been a certified instructor since 2010. He began making pots for his own Satsuki under the guidance of Shigeru Fukuda(Bushuan) in 2009, at 76 years of age! He entered the Kobachi in 2018 and won silver prize for unglazed containers in 2019. The influence Sensyu and Syuzan have had on his work is always very clear.
Martin Englert
Germany again represents the West, as our greatest bonsai container painter. Sadly, after 14’s Silver Award no prize was awarded in the 15th Kobachi, but his presence alone is important, and he certainly didn’t rest on his laurels and phone it in! Fantastic pieces.
Fabulous Shudei vermillion red clay make up these pots by Akio Yama, who has been making bonsai containers since 2012. A great variety of shape and technical precision. The display itself is also tastefully presented, showcasing the containers to best effect.
The entry from perennial entrant and sometimes winner Shigetoshi Yamada. He studied to become a professional potter specializing in non bonsai items like “umbrella stands, ikebana, etc.” Shun has been painting bonsai pots since 1995, and is self taught as a painter. A much better effort from this artist than the 14th Kobachi, which I felt were busier and darker than his usual style.
Ruban Yu
A threesome from Taiwanese painter and potter, a friend of the site, Ruban Yu. Unfortunately, I heard that he had some shipping difficulties and minor damage, which certainly hurt his chances for award.
One of my favorite entries this year. Such a wide variety of shape, style, and technique. This artist never ceases to impress. Perhaps a better display showing the pots to best advantage would have been more effective at catching the judges’ eye.

That’s it for my coverage of the 2020 Annual Contemporary Kobachi Artists Exhibition at Gafu-Ten. I hope you enjoyed seeing the containers from these artists as much as I look forward to seeing them every year!

In the coming weeks, the regular Monday posts will have a good mixture of articles on aesthetics and history, as well as the site’s usual artist profiles. Some articles to watch out for over the next couple of months include: Patina, Cost and Value, Joshu Katsuyama, And Zyubei; as well as a surprise article featuring Japanese Recognized Masterpieces and a certain well known pottery dealer. So stay tuned and subscribe!

As always, thanks for reading!

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The 15th Annual Contemporary Kobachi Artist Exhibition Part 1

I look forward every January to the Gafu Ten exhibition and the results and images of the major pottery competition held there in Kyoto, The Contemporary Kobachi Artists Exhibition. For articles on the previous exhibitions, click on Table of Contents. You can also find that page and others in the Menu drop screen on mobile or the Header on PC.

2019 saw more countries competing than ever before, a continuing trend. It’s an honor just to show at the exhibition, taking home a prize is top class In awards for bonsai pottery. While I disagreed with some of the results of the judging, and claim politics may have played a hand, there is no doubt that the winning containers all deserved recognition. Gold, silver, and bronze awards are given in 3 categories: Glazed, Unglazed, and Painted.


Keiun(桂雲).  His given name is Yasuo Fukuda. Fukushige(Bushuan) is his nephew, and he learned pottery in his studio. Keiun also entered the 14th Kobachi, and this display is miles above 2019 in every way. He’s inherited many of the glazes from Fukushige now that he is retired, and also does quite a bit of calligraphy work on containers. There is an excellent display of variety, classical styles and glazes here. His more traditional style couldn’t be more different from that of his nephew.

Going by the name to Jiji (ツ) kiln is Juninho Nakayama. An interesting and minimal use of decorative relief images and painting definitely made this entry stand out. I enjoyed the clean lines to the forms and the beautiful Celadon glaze as well. Not ostentatious at all, just lovely: Shibui at its best.

Tsutomo Matsuda, artist name Seiun, also won the silver prize at the 10th Kobachi exhibition in 2014. In 2020 he took home the Bronze award for this entry of fantastically glazed octagons. Great forms and a good mix of colors in the contemporary glaze style.


Tani Ranzan, former sushi chef, sculptor, bonsai artist and potter, and painter. A very well known and popular potter here in America, for his sculptural unglazed pots as well as his painted containers. A Renaissance man of bonsai finally takes home the gold he deserves.

Tadashi Ono(大矢忠) again takes home an award, like it seems he does every year. This year a silver award with a series of classical relief sculptures in the signature style he is known for, which usually exceeds and incorporates the rim with the carving.

Yoshi (芳), real name Yoshihiru Hiromasa. This potter is relatively unknown to me. The firing method looks perhaps like a Saggar fire on some of these. I have a friend who did this in Shigaraki, Japan during her apprenticeship. They used rice husks in an electric kiln with pots buried in the husks partway to leave carbonization and natural ash finishes on the buried portions. Rustic and utilitarian.


Reijaku(玲雀), given name Chen Myorin, is a Taiwanese painter who began painting containers in 1976. In both painting and clay technique, this artist shows true mastery. The Taiwanese have become the country to beat outside of Japan in the painted category over the last few years, taking home multiple prizes.

Stacy Allen Muse. A Florida Native and American, brought an award home for America, and himself, in the silver prize class.

Tomoyo Nakazato, called Chi(知), has been making pots since 2017 and painting since 2018. A short amount of time to win a bronze award for his 3 painted mame rounds. A nice display of simple containers, tastefully presented, with a variety of Japanese classical geometric and arabesque patterns.


Itoh Gekkou
Doshita Keishin
Nakano Gyouzan
Ikkou(Watanabe Kazuhiro)

That’s my Part 1 of my coverage of the 2020 Japanese Annual Contemporary Artist Exhibition.
In Part 2, we will a much longer look at the other displays. Those that didn’t take home prizes but were definitely worth mention, including entries from Zyubei, Roy Minarai, Kawada, Ruban Yu, and Shun, among many others.
I hope you enjoyed seeing the pots from these artists as much as I look forward to seeing them every year!

As Always, Thanks for Reading!

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