Demystifying Tosuis

So here’s one long and complicated family lineage that many find confusing. The Tosui-Harumatsu line of the Seto region is one of the longest in the modern age of bonsai pottery, and both branches continue to see production today, in a certain way of looking at things.
The Players:
Uematsu Chotaro: 1899-1959, Designer of most pots made by Mizuno Masao, pots made by Masao and designed by Chotaro are called “Uematsu Tosui”
Mizuno Sakataro:?-1921, Father of Mizuno Haramatsu and Mizuno Masao
Mizuno Masao: 1904-1975, maker of pots designed by Uematsu Chotaro, marked Uematsu Tosui, brother of Mizuno Harumatsu. After Chotaro’s death in 1959, took over the Tosui name solely. In 1964, at 60 years of age, began marking pots Ryokujuan Tosui, a play on the fact that “Ryokujuan” sounds like the Japanese “60”(Rokuju).
Mizuno Harumatsu: 1893-1958, eldest son of Mizuno Sakataro(Harumatsu Toen), took on the Harumatsu name from his father in 1921, making him the second generation Harumatsu. Also made some pots designed by Uematsu Chotaro. Pots marked with both Harumatsu and Uematsu Tosui are thought to be pre-war.
Mizuno Shikao: 1942-present, son of Mizuno Masao, if you count Uematsu Chotaro as a designer, that makes him 3rd generation of the Tosui kiln.
Harumatsu Rokumisai: 1917-2005, 3rd generation Harumatsu Kiln
Shinano Chazan: 1904-1992, a student of pottery and the tea ceremony, Chazan began painting pots made by Mizuno Masao and designed by Uematsu Chotaro around 1940, and went on to paint and carve pots by Harumatsu and a host of other potters, including Tsukinowa Yusen and Heian Kozan.
Haruyoshi: While not an official member of this lineage, like Chazan, Haruyoshi studied pottery under Harumatsu Rokumisai, and later painting with Shikao Tosui, so it is my thought that, while the Harumatsu line has ended, Haruyoshi is the successor to both lines.
Saavy? Good, I’m still a little confused too. But, on to the pots!
Uematsu Tosui
So, pots labeled as Uematsu Tosui can have been made by Harumatsu or Masao, and were often painted or carved by Chazan.

A Chazan painted rectangle by Masao, designed by Chotaro. A very nice painting, on a very famous pot.

Another with the same pedigree as above. Really nice details to the window painted landscape, and excellent glaze work.

An unglazed rectangle with riveted bottom band. Clean, straight lines. Very masculine.

Unglazed oval with double center band.

A really cleanly glazed red square.

A really cool cascade pot with glaze topper. Really nice yohen(kiln drips) to this the glaze topper on this pot.
Ryokujuan Tosui
From 1964 onward, pots made by Masao were marked Ryokojuan Tosui, and differ quite a bit from pre 1959 pieces devoted by Uematsu.


This design is a popular one of Ryokujuan Tosui. I’ve seen several different ones. The “bat/cloud” is porcelain. The pocked unglazed clay surface is rustic for such a formal pot shape with such whimsical designs.

A really well made round riveted drum with 3 balled feet. A really nice and bold pot.

A super simple square with cut corner window. Good looking clay quality.

A round with textured design and base with cut windows. Another bold pot. What would you plant in this?

A grayish glazed oval with center band and balled feet. Nice and mild glaze, easily usable for a variety of species.

Another simply glazed pot. I really like the tones of white and brighter blue to the left of the pot.

A really pretty deep indigo blue rectangle with lip and bottom band. I like that the glaze fully covers the feet on this pot. Sometimes it’s nice to see a bit of the quality of the clay peeking through the glaze, other times it’s just sloppy work.
Umemodoki anyone?
Mizuno Harumatsu
The Harumatsu potters are far better known for their Suiban than their bonsai pots. Harumatsu pots are widely variable as to quality and value, ranging from 12$ to $4,000.

A very famous Mizuno Harumatsu cascade pot. It looks to me to be a copy or homage to antique Chinese pieces.

A published, signed(this is very rare for Mizuno Harumatsu) indigo glazed soft banded rectangle. This piece I found for sale from Taishoen for 300,000¥(a hair under 4k$)….

And the opposite spectrum: a typical production level Harumatsu, available at $12.50.

A rustic hand formed blue cream glazed oval. I like the rusticity of this pot.

Another hand formed rustic oval. I could see this with a small forest planting.

A very thin light blue glaze. Unlike the Tosui pot above, I’m not a big fan of the clay showing here.

A much cleaner, deep green-blue oval. Here the clay showing through seems appropriate.

A Harumatsu pot with carved decoration by Chazan. The rather formal, classical pot and Chazans rustic engraving contrast well.
Harumatsu Rokumizu
The third, and last, generation of the Haramatsu line, Rokumizu pots are classical and bold.


An unglazed top and bottom banded oval. Second image shows the Harumatsu seal, and the signature, “Rokumizu”.

A large speckled cream oval. The chop in the lower left is unique to Rokumizu, a subject that came up recently on one of the pottery forums.
Mizuno Shikao
If you consider Uematsu Tosui to be a separate potter from Ryokujuan Tosui( which isn’t beyond the pale, since they are conceptually distinct) then Shikao, called simply “Tosui”, is the 3rd generation of the Tosui line.
Probably the most prolific of this entire Seto group, Tosui pots are everywhere, and widely vary as to cost and quality.
Glazed and unglazed Tosui are very common in the west, one reason I think Tosui has gotten a bad rap, so we’ll take a look at some better quality pieces that are not so common here.

Black glazed Tosui with a whole lot going on: mokko shape, 4 cloud feet, deep indents, lip, and windows. Really clean lines and nice glaze. Tough to use.

Unglazed pot with painted blue glaze designs. I’ve seen a lot of these from Tosui, it’s a difficult technique rarely used today but widespread in Antique Chinese pots.

A tiny black clay pot with porcelain band painted with landscape, from my collection.

These 4 pot painted sets are common by Tosui, and cost around 500$. They’re still being made.


Opposing sides of the same rectangle. While Tosui doesn’t have the classical skill of pot painters like Gekkou, Yuzan, Isseki, or Yusen, his painting style posses a certain cartoonish charm and whimsy of their own.


A Suiban and round with different mountainous views, one of Mount Fuji. Like many pot painters we’ve talked about in the past, The painting style and images used on Tosui pots often come from famous Japanese paintings. In Tosuis case, his style and many of his motifs come from the work of Katsushika Hokusai(1760-1849).

The original painting that the above Suiban is modeled from, by Hokusai.


Two more classical motifs, we’ve seen both painted by others on the blog before: Fox’s Wedding and the god of the wind, Fujin(Raijin, the god of thunder, appears on the opposite side).
Shinano Chazan
While not officially either a Tosui or a Harumatsu, the legacy of Chazan is intensely wrapped up with this Seto legacy, as Uematsu Tosui first commissioned him to paint pottery, and he trained the later generation Tosui to paint.

A painted shallow plate by Chazan. This piece exemplifies some of the best of Chazan’s porcelain painting, with the old man figures common in his post war work and the black and gray scale details.



A collaborative pot painted by Chazan, made by Tsukinowa Yusen. Really interesting bright coloration to the window painted landscape scene.


Detail of Yusen signature on bottom and Chazan signature in side window.

Another Chazan/Yusen collaborative pot, this one with an interesting glaze and brightly painted crabs.

A Chazan carved pot. One can clearly see the influence Chazan would have on later potters, like Okatani Zeshin and Cyazan.

A nail carved piece featuring the old man motif that Chazan is famous for, which Zeshin later emulated.

Another nail carved pot, more rustic than the above piece.


Another collaborative piece, this one between Chazan and Fukushi(福司). This one is for sale from Yorozuen, and shows very nice details, color, and patina.
While not a member of the Tosui/Harumatsu clan, being trained in pottery by the last generation of Harumatsu, and the last generation Tosui, makes Haruyoshi the successor of both lines in my opinion.
We’ve featured Haruyoshi on the blog before, so for a look back click here:

A shohin kusamono from my collection in a Haruyoshi porcelain sometsuke.

A really nice blue porcelain Haruyoshi. While he trained under Tosui, it’s my opinion that Haruyoshi is the best of this line of potters. His paintings show an eye for detail lacking in the others’ work.

A really nice winter scene.

A 5-color window scene, Kutani style!

A simple glazed accent pot. In both his painting and his unpainted pieces, you can see the influence of the great line of Harumatsu, Tosui, and Chazan.

Hope this clarifies all those Tosui and Harumatsu pots out there.
Thanks for reading!


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, Pot Info, ID, Hanko, Books, ect.. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Demystifying Tosuis

  1. Yvonne Graubaek says:

    Hi Ryan
    Thanks for sharing theese pots…I enjoy your posts.
    Funny how difrent we can look at things… say cloud/bat patern….I was surpriced. I alsways have seen this patern, as it is on the pot, as a volcano-mountaintop….
    Look forward to more.
    kind regards yvonne

  2. segmation says:

    HI Ryan, Creative Japanese Artist – Katsushika Hokusai!

  3. Pingback: Some Tosui Pots from My Collection | Robert Nocher Shohin Bonsai

  4. Kora Dalager says:

    Actually the print you showed is Hiroshigi and NOT Hokusai. It is the view of Lake Hakone.

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