Joshu Katsuyama: Bang for your Buck Potters Part 3

He was born Ogiwara Katsuyoshi on December 8, 1937.
At first, he went by the artist/kiln name Ogiwara Shouzan, then changed it to Joshu Shouzan. He finally settled on Joshu Katsuyama, which is great for us because there are just too many Shouzan around and it gets confusing.

He was always an enthusiastic and talented artist, and when he decided to make his own shohin bonsai containers, he taught himself sometsuke(blue underglaze painting) and akae(red overglaze enamel painting). He began painting ceramics in his own studio in 1975.

His style of landscape and figure painting is heavily influenced by the Nanga style of painting from Southern China, as was Fujikake Yuzan(see previous article on blog). This leads many to think Katsuyama are Yuzan derivative, but really they’re contemporaries and both Chinese derivatives. The style can be slightly cartoonish, but is charming in its own unique way. His go-sai paintings are especially nice in this style, with some even rivaling the work of Yuzan, who is considered, along with Gekkou, to be the best of his generation. In addition to a variety of painting styles(sometsuke, akae, go-sai) Katsuyama is known for underside painting details on his pieces. Works without painting on the bottom are considered lesser pieces.

Considering that the prices of Katsuyama’s work versus stylistically similar artists like Yuzan are a third or less of the cost, this artist definitely belongs in the Bang For Your Buck Potters category. For a few hundred dollars, rather than a grand or two, you can acquire a container for your shelf or your Shohin bonsai that is worthy of admiration. They also retain value, and are always easy sells.

A go-sai(5 color) sansui rectangle showing excellent detail and the kind of Nanga influence we referred to earlier.
A sometsuke blue underglaze painted window container with multiple figures and a cliff side landscape. Excellent detail and interesting use of movement with the negative space and the direction the figures are facing.
Another go-sai, this one more typical of Katsuyama’s work than the rectangle previously shown. Less detailed but still a fantastic painted piece. The rim and feet details are especially nicely done.
Another Sometsuke painted container, this one a mokko with geometric designs at the inset points. While the brush work leaves a little to be desired, with some blurry bleed, still a great container for Shohin display.
Red and black overglaze enamel painting showing a much better use of negative space than the previous pieces. Excellent detail in a classical sansui landscape.
Sometsuke painting of the “Fox’s Wedding”, the Japanese folklore explanation for sun showers(rain when the sun is shining). A classical motif in bonsai container painting, most every artist has used the traditional design.
A tiny sometsuke mame pot with excellent detail for such a small space.
Another mame pot with bird. So tiny, so whimsical, so cute and well executed.
A slightly larger Ruri glazed inset panel square with landscape. The landscape on this one is a little less detailed than some of the other pieces we’ve looked at. The moderate bleed on the glaze is tolerable though, still a great piece for the price.
An akae overglaze enamel landscape with temple. Great details and use of white space. I really like the landscape motif on this piece. The cliff receding into the distance adds depth and breaks up the negative space, a great detail.
Another classical folklore scene of the Fox’s Wedding, this time a much better and more detailed version. In the American south, for a sun shower, we say “The devil is beating his wife.” It is surprising how many cultures associate sun showers with animals, especially foxes, in folklore.
A Winter scene based on Hiroshige Ando and the 53 Stations. We’ve talked about Ando’s famous woodblock prints many times here on the site. Like “Foxes Wedding”, the 53 Stations are classical motifs at which nearly every artist tries their hand.
Another gorgeous go-sai container with fantastic details and interesting positioning of the elements of the painting. The figures facing each other and the negative space on either side allows the side to be used for a bonsai with either left or right movement. Not commonly seen.
Two of the painted undersides that Joshu Katsuyama is famous for and has made somewhat of a signature of his more quality work. While the pieces without painted undersides are considered lesser works, they’re often just as nice, and can more easily fit a tight display budget.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my article on Joshu Katsuyama, he of so many names! Katsuyama is the first painter in my Bang for You Buck artists series, painted containers often being much more expensive than similar grades of glazed and unglazed bonsai pottery. But there are artists out there like Katsuyama that are affordable if you look!
Many more Bang for Your Buck articles coming in the future featuring potters every enthusiast can afford!

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
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1 Response to Joshu Katsuyama: Bang for your Buck Potters Part 3

  1. Lisa Harper says:

    OMG I want those mames! Lisa

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