Takao Koyo(高雄香葉)

The Kyoto region has had more than its fair share of outstanding potters! In the last two posts, we looked at one of them, Tsukinowa Yusen, and we’ve mentioned Ino Shukuho and Heian Tofujuki before, of course. In today’s post, we’ll take a look at another Kyoto native son: Takao Koyo.
Born in 1947, his given name is 塩貝研二(?Kenji Shiobai?). He began making bonsai pottery at the age 25, in 1972. His influences include Tofukuji, Yusen, and Wakamatsu Aiso. He is self taught as a potter, and as such his work resembles more the work of his idols, than of a master he apprenticed under, like many other painters and potters.
His style is varied, from single color, pure, glazed classics, to interesting new forms, and, of course, his more recent painted pieces.


Two photos of Takao Koyo. The first is an old image, taken sometime before 1990, and is from the deluxe Japanese pottery encyclopedia, “Bijutsu Bonkei”. The second is Takao Koyo today, posing with his shohin display at a show.
Now, on to the pots!
Painted Work



We’ll begin with a painted piece, following a theme. In the last post we Showed a collaborative pot from Kutani Ikko and Yusen, first today, is a collaborative pot from Ikko and Takao Koyo. The pot work from Takao Koyo is excellent, highly detailed, highly individualistic. Compare the painting work from the Ikko in the previous post, and it’s easy to see why I think the Yusen co-op piece is early work!


Two sides of a yellow glaze cut corner rectangle with interesting feet and inset landscape windows in sometsuke blue. Clearly Yusen influenced painting style, from the boater looking off to the moon in the distance to the horse and rider landscape scene on the other side…to say nothing of the yellow glaze with inset windows!


Image Courtesy of Koju-En

From the corner, a very detailed tallish square. Note the figure on the left looking up toward the moon, and the equestrian scene on the right, more examples of Yusen’s influence.

Another showing both the influence of Yusen and the traditional Kyo-Yaki style. The details to the birds are pretty outstanding, as are the traditional Kyoto style geometrics surrounding the windows.

We saw this one in the last post, a copy of a famous Yusen, with a few details changed for a personal touch. The detail in this pot is striking, with this quality of work, it won’t be long before Takao Koyo pots fetch the prices of Gekkou and Yuzan. At the moment, a Takao Koyo goes for around half of one the contemporary big 2!

Takao Koyo seems to favor window landscapes, which is good, as his glaze skill is every bit as nice as his painting. This piece, with it’s pinkish glaze and landscape, would be interesting to use with a mayumi, with it’s pinkish flowers about to pop, I think.

Another footed Mokko shape, this one painted by Koyo himself. The brushwork is outstanding and highly detailed.

A simple porcelain arabesque round. Very nice designs to this pot, it would work with a great many species.

A darker blue glazed landscape window pot in footed mokko shape. The go-sai painted landscape is superb, with very fine line brushwork and great detail to the weeping willow. The feet are also very nicely done: unlike some painters, who excel at painting but lack craft with glaze and clay work, Takao Koyo excels at all three.

Another Yusen homage piece, featuring birds frolicking in a pasture. I really like simple designs like this, they are easy to use in shohin display and yet call to mind a setting very easily. The feet are especially nice.


A five color piece in a footed mokko shape. The painting is this piece is especially spartan for Takao Koyo, and very nice, it manages to be detailed and colorful without being cartoonish, like many five color pots. The second image shows Takao Koyo’s two Marks and the underside of the pot.
Glazed Pots

A swirling glazed pot in gray and white from my collection. I make no secret of my love for interesting, swirling glazes: these are a little more unusual from Takao Koyo, who tends to favor bold, bright single color glazes.

A banded oval in a darker cream glaze, also from my collection. This pot has seen some use, and is starting to develop a nice patina.

A small pair of Takao Koyo pots from my collection. The ultra shallow greenish grey glazed on the right came with a box, unfortunately it’s unsigned. The crackle cream glaze on the left is very nice, I’m a big fan of crackle glazes.

A quintet of single color glazed 6 sided pots, the far left showing a carved design. These pots show the strong, bold single color glazes favored by Takao Koyo.

A simple white porcelain round. Single color glazes like this take patina very well, it will be outstanding to see it in a couple decades!

Another interestingly glazed soft rectangle. Glazes like this are hard to pull off, and are either outstanding, like this piece, or downright ugly. The harmony between the many different colors is very nice.


Image Courtesy of Koju-En

A banded soft rectangle yellow glazed pot with cut feet. I love pure, bright color yellows! You don’t see them in use enough in shohin displays is the states(but then again, you don’t see many great shohin displays in the west, period).


Image Courtesy of Koju-En

A really nice oribe glazed tall cascade with swirling colors. The detail in the feet of this 6 sided pot is especially nice.


Image Courtesy of Koju -En

A single color red glazed pot with cut corners and feet. Red glazes are tough to use, but look quite nice on the pottery shelves!


Image Courtesy of Koju-En

An interesting small blue with white speckles. Very nice glaze to this small pot, the deeper blue and white would contrast well with a tree with red berries or flowers.


Image Courtesy of Koju-En

An interesting purplish glazed pot. I really like single colored glazes in unique colors like this one.
Shohin Bonsai In Takao Koyo Pots

A gardenia in a blue glazed window landscape pot. The red in the painting and the blue in the glaze contrast well with the bright green of the gardenia.

A Nioi Kaede(Japanese musk maple) in a red glazed pot….what did I just say about reds being hard to use? Forget that!


Two Kaede(trident maple) in bright yellow pots. The bright yellow brings out the light green in the leaves well.

A Japanese maple in a blue painted landscape pot. The blue of the landscape painting contrasts well with the deep green leaves.

A naked multi trunk Kaede in a swirling grayish green pot, similar to the one in the glazed section above. The colors in the pot compliment the trunk colors quite well.

A Kaede in leaf in a very light blue glazed pot. The light blue brings out the bright green of the leaves very nicely, a classical contrast.

Asiatic Jasmine in a red glazed mokko shape. What did I say about red glazed pots?! They look especially nice with species with very dark green leaves and darker trunks.
All of the photos today not cited as coming from Koju-en come from Takao Koyo’s own excellent blog of bonsai and bonsai pottery, check it out to see more of his work:
Takao Koyo Blog
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the work of Takao Koyo today. Up next, a little post about a black pine I worked on Saturday with Bjorn Bjorholm, and another “Pots From My Collection Post”. 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 gastrognome@aol.com
This entry was posted in Modern Potters, My Personal Collection. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Takao Koyo(高雄香葉)

  1. Pingback: Shiokai Kenji Pots – Kaohsiung Koha or Takao-koyo | Sam & KJ's Suiseki Blog (水石)

  2. Wolfgang Böttcher says:

    Suche weitere Shohin und kleine Schalen zu kaufen.

    Wolfgang Böttcher

  3. Pingback: When Was the Last Time You Saw a Pink Bonsai Pot? | Bonsai Bark

  4. Pingback: A Bonsai Pot that Set the Armies Marching | Bonsai Bark

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