Finally…Itou Gekkou

Itou Gekkou is one of my favorite painters, and these days he’s one of my favorite potters as well. Gekkou comes from a very long line of fantastic potters, of bonsai ware and other items, and I find the story of his progression to today most interesting.

Itou Gekkou was born May 22, 1939. His Parents, Itou Shikou and Itou Tankyou, both professional bonsai potters, seem to have identified their sons’ unique talents from an early age. In 1959, Gekkou began painting sometsuke pots, many made by his brother, Itou Tonyo, local renowned potters, or parents.
While in the beginning many of his pots were made by Tonyo, Bikoh, and others, in the last 30 years Gekkou has developed into an amazing potter in his own right, as well as painter, though Tonyo may still be the better clay-man for his technical excellence.
Gekkou was heavily influenced by the detailed paintings of Tsukinowa Yusen.
All of his paintings are done freehand, no stencil or patterns like some painters use. His line and painting techniques have become much more refined in the last decade, and stand up as excellent beside work by any contemporary pottery painter. His techniques are as varied as can be, including sometsuke, red paintings, overglaze enamels, and go-sai(5 color).
Enjoy some pieces by one of the most popular contemporary painters of bonsai pottery!

A 6″ oval sometsuke from my collection. Ive showed this pot before and its up on the For Sale page. Fine details and brushwork, and clear directionality. The landscape wraps around the entire pot.

Another of mine. Indigo glazed rectangle pot with red window landscape. The glaze separation between the porcelain and the blue is clean, with no blurring, and the red landscape is well done. An earlier piece than the previous, as can be seen by the higher quality of brushwork in the first pot.


A five color round from the collection of good friend and fellow collector Matt Ouwinga of Kaede Bonsai-En. I helped his fiancĂ© pick this one out for him for Christmas…who wouldn’t want to find this under the tree! Awesome brushwork and really strong, overglaze enamel painting. Really impressive!


Another from Matt’s collection. This pot was used in Kokufu Ten. Nice patina, early work by the look of the brushwork. Dating porcelain is a tough matter, as it patinates at a tenth the rate of typical glazes and clay types, but this one looks to be at least 30 years old from the brushwork and patina.


One more from Matty O’s shelves. Really nice fluted oval landscape.
And the original box and Turmeric cloth for storage. These are tough to find!!

This one is super cool. One of 3 collaboration pieces I have seen between Gekkou and Kamiya Ryuen. Really cool 5-color painting. Calls to my mind some of the ornately painted and decorated unglazed antique Chinese pots I’ve seen.

From the four sides.


Two cut indent lotus shapes, one in red and one in blue. These are very recent work, you can really see the tight brushwork and detail in both pots.

Taller cascade or semicascade blue with landscape window and arabesque bordering. A little busy for my taste, but still elegant.

Another glazed blue with red window landscape. I really love the cloud shape to the window, it really softens up the pot.

Taller cascade sometsuke with a great landscape.

A really nice 4 footed oval go-sai with dragons. Really nice use of the 5 colors, and great detailing to the feet and rim.

A soft rectangular 5 color with landscape scene. Really nice brushwork to this more recent pot.

A really cool, and older, round painted in blacks and grays. This is a really unique pot with a nice patina. Muted colors like this one are rare.

A taller cascade piece with a winter scene. I’ve said it before, but it’s still surprising to me that winter scenes aren’t more common, given that it’s the best time to veiw deciduous trees and both the Kokufu and Gafu Tens are held in the dead of winter!

An earlier work collaboration piece from Gekkou and his brother, Itou Tonyo. Nice round window with a bird peeking out from the intricate decorative painting. This motif is common to Pottery paintings, and always reminds me of MC Escher.

A very spartan lakeside landscape with watering swans or egrets. Plenty of negative space and directionality here. Very elegant and classy.

A very tiny pot! But the details are great. I imagine this was painted using brushes of only a few hairs!

A photo from the other side with a lighter for scale. Tiny!

A really unique orchid pot with overglaze enamel painting. Haven’t seen too many of these, they must be rare!

Another round with geometric bordering to a landscape window.

From all four angles.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing this selection of pots from master painter Itou Gekkou. Til the next post! More from my collection, including pots by Heian Kouzan, Heian Kouso, and some antique Chinese!


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
This entry was posted in Famous and Antique Potters, Modern Potters, My Personal Collection. Bookmark the permalink.

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