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.
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!
So, pots labeled as Uematsu Tosui can have been made by Harumatsu or Masao, and were often painted or carved by Chazan.
A really cool cascade pot with glaze topper. Really nice yohen(kiln drips) to this the glaze topper on this pot.
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 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.
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 Harumatsu pot with carved decoration by Chazan. The rather formal, classical pot and Chazans rustic engraving contrast well.
The third, and last, generation of the Haramatsu line, Rokumizu pots are classical and bold.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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 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.
Hope this clarifies all those Tosui and Harumatsu pots out there.
Thanks for reading!