Born Haruyoshi Matsumoto(松本治義)in 1940 in Shizuouka prefecture, Matsumoto Shouseki has been making Bonsai pottery, beginning as a hobby, since 1958. He was a new art exhibition co-winner in 1975, and has exhibited several times at the Shohin Kobachi Exhibition.
Initially he made only unglazed pots, but over time he has broadened his repertoire to include many various styles, including glazed pots and carved pots, but now specializes in painted and unpainted pieces made from native Arita porcelain, mostly in akae and sometsuke. In addition to making pots, these days he also spends quite a bit of his time teaching.
Now, on to the Pots!
A small bag shaped pot with cloud feet painted with a spartan sometsuke landscape, from my collection. A very nice and tranquil seen is presented, and the shape combined with the feet is quite elegant.
Front and back views of a lipped and bottom banded rectangle with cloud feet painted with flowers. A very nice patina to this piece, combined with the darker clay creates a striking effect of age.
Three pieces from the last small pots Kobachi Exhibition.
A tiny piece with ruler for scale, showing very well painted geometrics on a nicely executed cloud footed oval.
Now, before we get into anymore painted Matsumoto Shouseki pots, a little Japanese art history is in order. We’ve mentioned other painters of bonsai pots homage pieces to famous Scroll paintings and woodblock prints many times before on the site, and have even mentioned Tosui and his homage paintings to the works of Katsushita Hokusai. Matsumoto Shouseki is similarly entranced by the works of Hokusai, and has painted many homage pieces to the famous “36 Views of Mount Fuji”, a series of 19th century woodblock prints showing Fuji San from many different perspectives. For more on Hokusai and a more in depth look at his work, see
Katsushita Hokusai-Conplete Works
Two Hokusai originals from the “36 Views” series, for reference. The next several pots are all homages to this series of prints.
From the corner, front and back, of a Shouseki homage rectangle with cloud feet in akae. This piece is very intricately detailed, and shows either the above “Mount Fuji Seen Below a Wave at Kanagawa” or “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa”. The rear shows a smaller version of the Hokusai, and is calligraphically labelled as an homage to the print.
Another homage to one of the same two prints, also in akae, this one a cloud footed mokko shape. The details in Shouseki’s paintings are very nice and well-painted, and while these pots are homages to famous prints, they definitely have their own style.
A square homage pot, most likely to the print above, “Shower Below the Summit”. Interesting that Shouseki seems to have extended the lightning strike beyond the scope of the original.
A rustically crafted cloud footed pot with a view of Fuji San.
From the corner, a broader landscape view of Mount Fuji, with impressive detail and brushwork. I quite like Shouseki’s skill at creating both rustic wonky pieces like the previous pot and razor crafted straight line pots like this one.
A round piece with cloud feet and a view of Mount Fuji with trees and clouds. The above piece has the “negative space” shaded with akae, which creates a totally different feel from landscapes against true white, like the pot before.
A rather impressionistic view of Fuji San in sometsuke on a mokko shape with full cloud feet. A very pretty and stylized piece, when comparing with the above you can really appreciate Shouseki’s diverse styles.
Two totally different style views of Fuji San in sometsuke on identical pots, shown together to compare the different feel of the different paintings, all else being equal, literally. The spartan landscape of the first pot is light and airy and really feminizes the strong lines of the pot, while the second (“The Great Wave” again) is heavier and more masculine and would be better suited to a stronger tree.
A pair of glazed round pots with cut designs. Very interesting shapes and glazes to these two cascade or semi cascade style pots.
A pair of longer tray style glazed pots. I really like the glaze on the first piece, it’s metallic sheen is beautiful and deep.
A pretty classical soft cornered rectangle with cut feet and deep, dark blue glaze. Shouseki has left the feet unglazed to show the quality Arita clay from which the body is constructed.
And we’ll finish up our look at Matsumoto Shouseki with my favorite glazed piece of the bunch, a soft rectangle with a wonderful oribe over iron blue crackle, in the style of Wakamatsu Aiso. The depth of the iron blue glaze and it’s swirling patterns is impressive, and the green crackle is beautifully rendered and uniform. A wonderful piece showing great skill.
Matsumoto Shouseki’s signature and two stamps.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the pottery and paintings of contemporary Matsumoto Shouseki, and his more than 50 years of Bonsai Pot creation!
Thanks for reading!
You commented on the “lightning strike” from the original painting of Mt. Fuji. I interpreted it as lava flow but got really confused when he painted the scene on the pot as the lava flow appears to go out in space away from the mountain. Just curious what you think of my lava idea. Great blog! Keep it up
I interpret as a lightning strike because of the shape and because of the title of the two prints where this Fuji San is pictured: “Shower below the Summit”(that’s this one), and “Thunderstorm at the Foot of the Mountain”(an identical print, except the clouds are much lower). In all honesty, Hokusai could be portraying anything on the slopes of Fuji, given his stylized use of color, but since he only uses this particular technique during storms, I go with lightning. Thanks for the comment!
This is very usefull, thanks for the nice picture’s!
No thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to address it and to do this blog. Now that I look at it as lightning the pot looks much better to me.