Pots by Okatani Zeshin Part

Those of you who frequent the IBC forums will remember a fantastic and strange pot I identified for Dan Barton, who had picked it up in Japan and didnt know who made it. It was made by Okatani Zeshin, and I thought it would be nice to show some more examples of his work.
Zeshin is a relatively unknown potter here in the west, but in Japan he is very well known, his pots have been very influential for the current generation of carving potters, and some of his pots fetch very high prices, over $500. His carvings are surreal, strange, trippy, Suessian, and sometimes downright weird. Some of his favorite motifs include “repeating Monks” reliefs, animals(either as a relief, pattern, or the shape of the pot as a whole), especially crabs, frogs, and owl, landscapes, and “freeform wierdness.”  His glazes and techniques are every bit as masterful as his carving and pot technique, featuring unique colors with great depth and interesting application.
He passed away in 1997, and was member of the famous Yokohama Guild(a group of Bonsai potters who make small pots) and influenced several potters of this group.

Here is a selection of Okatani Zeshin pots. Special thanks to fellow collector and Bonsai artist Matt Ouwinga for photos and Gerry Novotny for allowing use of his extensive collection of Zeshin pots, easily the largest in the United States, probably the largest outside of Japan.

Crab pot with green brown glaze.

A little owl with masterful glaze and carving.

Im not sure what this little guy is, but he's cute nonetheless! Armodillo? Anteater?

Crab pot with multiple glazes. Zeshin pots where the body of the pot is a crab are very surreal and strange looking...a little evil.

A cute little fish with very nice detail to the scales.


A fascinating carving pot done in relief. Reminds me of the work of contemporary surrealist painter Andrew Gonzalez.

The "repeating monks" pattern so common to Zeshin pots. These bearded monks pop up all over, in a dizzying array of geometric designs and shapes.

A very surreal pot. Like the works of Hunter S. Thompson associated artist Ralph Steadman.


Very cool double clay construction and bas relief.

A very interesting pot. One of the few Zeshins I see that are feasibly usable with many trees.

Hope you enjoyed the pots of Okatani Zeshin!  I know I do!  Ill feature a few more of his carvings in an upcoming post, along with his many Hanko and Rakkan.





About japanesepots

I've been collecting Japanese Bonsai pots for a few years, and feel that the famous, and some of the lesser known but great Japanese pot artists could do with a little more writing and exposure in English. Additionally, this blog will feature My own And others bonsai for discussion. The purpose of this blog is to further knowledge of Japanese pottery and Japanese style bonsai. If you have any questions about Japanese bonsai pottery, or would like to acquire pots by some of the potters presented in the blog, feel free to email me at gastrognome@aol.com
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1 Response to Pots by Okatani Zeshin Part

  1. Pingback: Okatani Zeshin Part 3 | Japanese Bonsai Pots Blog

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