Suifu Sanjin

Suifu Sanjin was born Masashi Usui(薄井正志) in Ibaraki in 1921, and passed away in 1994. He took the name Suifu as a suggestion of his hometown, and Sanjin is a reference to the literati of old. Only around 200 pieces exist, and the limited nature of production was discovered after his death. He made pots solely for his own use as a bonsai lover, from 1963 to 1967. His specialities include Iron Glaze(TetsuYu), Tenmoku Glaze, Tenmoku with fine oil droplets(Yuteki Tenmoku), and Buckwheat glaze(SobaYu), and forms vary from the rustic, hand formed, and asymmetrical, to more classical shapes. Due to the relative scarcity and popularity, prices are correspondingly very high. I’d say around 75% of the 100 or so I’ve seen are formerly of the renowned Takagi Collection.
Let’s take a look!

Two views of a hand formed and altered diamond shaped piece in Tenmoku glaze. Very characteristic of Sanjin’s Yohen Tenmoku(Tenmoku is a Yohen glaze, meaning that it changes color on the kiln depending upon firing conditions). Like most of the Suifu Sanjin containers one sees, this piece is formerly of the Takagi Collection.
A pair of Containers from Miyabi published in 2005, cataloguing 30 years of Shohin articles recognized as Japanese National Treasures.
In addition to being a famous lover of Bonsai, Suifu Sanjin was a famous collector and lover of suiseki. Ive seen many stones formerly of his collection, and most of them, like this piece, also have Daiza carved by Sanjin.
This is an interesting powder blue glazed pot with a unique form. Both the unique glaze and form make this piece characteristic Sanjin.
Another Miyabi-Yu pot, a National Shohin Treasure. This piece is Yuteki Tenmoku, one of Suifu Sanjin’s specialities. The glaze is beautiful and warm.
One last Miyabi Yu pot from Suifu Sanjin. This piece is very classical in style, and the red glaze is really spectacular.
Three views of another Yuteki Tenmoku from Sanjin. This may be one of my favorite classical glazes. You’ll note the paint pen designation on the bottom, marking it as part of the Takagi collection. In researching this article on Sanjin, I discovered that pots in Takagi collection were numbered according to glaze type, or shape if they were unglazed, rather than by maker as I’d previously thought.
A three footed round with a very thick and deep greenish cream glaze. You can see a slight crackle to the glaze, which barely shows, indicating that this pot was likely never used.
A classically shaped reddish brown glazed pot with cloud feet. The very slight blue highlights really make the glaze spectacular.
A bag shaped pot with a very thick silver-green oribe glaze. Great depth and color to this glaze.
A rarely seen unglazed piece from Sanjin. Good form and nice rustic clay.
A very interestingly formed high footed square with a peach colored glaze. Unique forms and glazes being Suifu Sanjin’s specialty, this is a characteristic piece.
A hand formed bag shape with Tenmoku glaze. Great depth and color to this Tenmoku, and an interesting shape.
Another hand formed bag with Tenmoku glaze. The glaze on this piece is spectacular, with it’s fractal swirls of green, brown, and black.
Another rare unglazed piece. The texture to the outside of the pot is very nicely done.
A really interesting rectangle with a metallic green glaze and multiple braided hemp rope decorations. Very unique, I haven’t seen anything like this from other potters.
Here’s a really unique exaggerated mokko shape with Buckwheat glaze. Very interesting style, simultaneously rustic and refined.
A really lovely pinkish red glazed pot. The glaze has a slight crackle to it, which doesn’t show up too much, indicating that this pot was rarely used.
A very classically shaped rectangle with cloud feet and dark green glaze. A simple pot, showing Sanjin’s versatility in both unique and interesting pots an classical simple styles.
Suifu Sanjin Artist Marks

And we’ll finish up today’s look at the work of Suifu Sanjin with this gourd shaped piece with a fantastic Tenmoku glaze. The glaze is warm and complex, the pot’s style unique; an excellent example of the pottery of Suifu Sanjin.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ve enjoye today’s look at the excellent and rare pottery of Suifu Sanjin! Up next: Another Pots from My Collection post, an update to the Chops database, and long awaited first post on Antique Chinese containers. Stay Tuned!


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
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2 Responses to Suifu Sanjin

  1. Sam Edge says:

    I have seen his pots in many books but I don’t recall seeing one for sale. With the limited number of them know I understand why. Thanks, Ryan.

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