In today’s article, we take a look at the pottery of Wakamatsu Aiso, a true collector’s potter who is renowned for small containers. Aiso hailed from Kyoto, as did most of the greatest Japanese Bonsai Ceramicists(not Tokoname…..), such as Aiso contemporaries Heian Tofukuji and Tsukinowa Yusen(a few other greats from Kyoto include Makuzu Kozan, Hayashi Takemoto, Ino Shukuho, Heian Kouso, and Seifu Yohei).
I have not been able to find dates of birth OR death for Aiso, but as a contemporary of Tofukuji I think it’s safe to say he lived somewhere around the late 19th century to around the 1970’s. He was the original founder of the Kiln At Kouso En that would later fire works from Tofukuji, and become the kiln of Heian Kouso.
His pots were very limited in production, despite this, however, he is consistently ranked with Tofukuji and Kouzan as one of the greatest potters of the 20th century. His pots, it is said, are hoarded by collectors. This seems to be true, as there are supposed to be hundreds of them, but one rarely sees them come up for sale(relatively speaking). Aiso was most skilled in glazing and enameling. His glazes are original, unique, and employ both excellent and pure single colors as well as some Yohen glazes that are pretty, elegant, and refined. His enamel technique was Kyoto-classical and flawless.
Now, let’s take a look at the pots!
A few different examples of Aiso overglaze enamel porcelain. Very clean enamel work, excellent glazes, and very beautiful color combinations. This is a classical Kyoto style of pottery, an excellent examples can be seen from many potters of the region.
A really brightly painted small cream crackle glazed rectangle painted in 5 color with children and pony motifs. Interestingly whimsical, the style of this piece reminds me a lot of the more common first and second generation Ino Shukuho pots.
A bright yellow glazed shallow rectangle with lip. Really nice rich yellow, with just enough to patina to show age without being green.
A really interesting, and rarely seen, pink glazed rectangle. The thick glaze really softens up what would otherwise be a pretty angular pot.
A very nice bright blue rectangle. The light clay peeking through the thin glaze at the angles is a nice touch.
For comparison, here’s another blue rectangle. Note that the glaze is entirely different, much thicker, giving the piece a much softer feel than the previous blue.
A lovely blue green rectangle with cloud feet. Excellent patina, and cloud feet are rare on Aiso pots, almost all of them have cut feet.
For comparison, check out this Tofukuji I photographed at Koju-en. The similarities are surely striking.
This is a really spectacular piece! It’s tough to tell what was original glaze, and what is patina! Really excellent!
Another beatific rarity! Lovely metallic green over light Kyoto clay. Ovals, like cloud feet, are rare for Aiso.
Another cloud footed rectangle, this one in a very nice, classical, green oribe. The oribe yu shows just the a slightest crystal highlights on the surface.
I’m not positive, but this glaze looks to be Takatori Yu. Take a look back at some older posts for more information on this rarely nicely executed glaze.
Here’s a really nice and well patinated cream glazed rectangle from the collection of friend and cream glaze fanatic Matt Ouwinga.
And another from Matt’s collection. A triple rarity: porcelain round with relief carvings of Chrysanthemum. The awesome patina on this truly one-of makes it exceptional.
And one last from Matt Ouwinga: a glazed blue with white highlights. The thick and uneven glaze is awesome, and calls to mind some of Tofukuji’s more exceptional blues.
This pot has a severely damaged and unreadable hanko, but by comparison of the clay, the unusual glaze, the unusual size of the dranage, and the size of the unreadable seal, I’m positive it’s Aiso’s work. The unreadable seal is 1.5cm, a spot on match to one of two that Aiso used(the other is 3.6cm).
I hope you’ve enjoyed todays look at the pottery of Wakamatsu Aiso. Thanks for reading!