Tag Archives: Japanese art

Master Potter Shiro Tsujimura teaches Prime Minister


When the student is ready the master appears :


Past Japanese PM, Morihiro Hosokawa left the tough political arena for another path that was possibly just as demanding. After retiring from Japanese politics in 1998, he decided to retreat to a quieter life in the countryside of Japan. The plan was to do some reading, a bit of contemplation and stop to smell the cherry blossoms. But then on a whim he decided to learn pottery. Leafing through a pottery book  wondering who would be an appropriate teacher, Shiro Tsujimura caught his attention, particularly for his Shigaraki pottery. Additionally his reputaion for being a gruff and wild spiritied master supported  his decision as he didn’t want favouritism from being an ex PM.




The Elusive Tea Bowl Workshop

Shiro Tsujimura at The Elusive Tea Bowl Workshop


When Shiro Tsujimura  was younger he considered becoming a Zen monk, and underwent formal training at Sanshoji, a Zen temple monastery, until he took up the discipline of clay at the age of 22. He was no stranger to an austere lifestyle as Morihiro discovered after he was accepted to study with him. Shiro built his house and studio in the mountains at Nara, where he  lived with his wife, 3 large dogs, around 20 cats and the bats, moths and insects that visited through the generous gaps in the walls. Sometimes for meals they would roam the woods looking for wild mushrooms and Hosokawa had to adapt to no mobile phone usage and an outside toilet made entirely of wood.

Tsujimura would rise at 6am and go to his wheel and start throwing and go through to mealtime around 7 pm.  Hosokawa sat next to him at another wheel each day and watched and also threw clay. His instructions were succinct. ” Chuck it ” for abandon that attempt and start again, ” you ask too many questions ”  if a question was asked and “stupid man” – for some encouragement. There is a saying, ” the less a master tells you the more you learn “. While in the studio, department store and gallery people would come to visit Tsujimura, asking him if he would like to do an exhibition. It didn’t register that the 73 year old man apprentice covered in clay used to be their Prime Minister. After 18 months Morihiro Hosokawa felt he had discovered the joy of using a pottery wheel and creating works and left to work in his own studio. Morihiro Hosokawa mostly makes tea ceremony ware, using many of the different glazes that characterise each of Japan’s famous pottery districts. Hosokawa also practices the art of calligraphy.



Morihiro Hosokawa

Morihiro Hosokawa on his pottery wheel

Hosokawa Morihiro garden ceramics

Hosokawa Morihiro garden ceramics


Morihiro Hosokawa

Hosokawa Raku chawan

Morihiro Hosokawa Raku chawan

Stoneware tea bowl raku black

Stoneware tea bowl raku black – Morihiro Hosokawa

2008 Morihiro Hosokawa

 Black raku stoneware –  Hosokawa  2008

(  Five Colleges and Historic Deerfield Museum Consortium )


Morihiro Hosokawa


Tea Bowl Morihiro Hosokawa


Shigaraki fired vessel



Morihiro Hosokawa

Works by  Shiro Tsujimura :

 Shiro’s summation of  his artistic approach:  “A lengthy period of study isn’t necessary to make good pieces,”  “It’s not a matter of killing yourself over technique, but of the result.  It’s not even whether you use a traditional wood-fire kiln or a gas kiln. That is, it’s not a matter of process, but of whether you make pieces in the image you hope for. In the end, it is the artistic goal, the spiritual aspect.”Shino tea bowl

Shino tea bowl


Shiro Tshujimura tea bowl


Iga Uzukumaru jar


Flower Vase Iga Style

( Ippodo Gallery )

Tsujimura Shiro Tea Bowl

Tsujimura Shiro Tea Bowl

(  Lacoste Gallery )



Shino Sake Cup

Sake cup Ido style

Sake cup Ido style

Black oribe style tea bowl

Black oribe style tea bowl


Ido tea bowl


Iga Water Jar

Shiro Tsujimura

Natural ash glaze large jar


Karatsu tea bowl

Karatsu tea bowl

Kohiki jar

Expressive abstract Kohiki jar


Natural ash glaze faceted vase


Tea Bowl – Shiro Tshujimura

( Lesley Kehoe Galleries )

Natural ash glaze spherical vessel

Natural ash glaze spherical vessel

Other Japanese ceramics  that have caught my attention  lately :

Slab Molded Ikebana Vase

Slab Molded Ikebana Vase

John Dix Chawan

John Dix Chawan

( http://flyeschool.com )


Inayoshi Osamu

( http://flyeschool.com )


Modern Japanese Chawan Tea bowl  – Kawai Toru

Takayuki Sakiyama

Takayuki Sakiyama


Tetsuya Ishiyama

(  ippodo gallery New York )


Shoji Hamada

Charger – Shoji Hamada

Ichino Masahiko

Ichino Masahiko

( Yufuku Gallery, Tokyo )

Mihara Ken

Mihara Ken

( Yufuku Gallery )


Maeta Akihiro porcelain faceted vase

( Yufuku Gallery )

Cited Sources










Chawan, Yunomi and the Cha Dou

” In all things, whatever they are, the finish of every detail is not desirable: 

one that holds the attention is unfinished ” ( The Book of Tea – Kakuzo Okakura )


This statement really encapsulates the main concept of Wabi Sabi, which is essential in the creation of the ceremonial Chawan ( tea Bowl ). The deliberate adherence to an imperfected form during the making of the Chawan and its dedicated use in the ritual of the Japanese tea ceremony,  has been the most influential in the promotion of this concept in Japanese culture.

The ceramic objects reflect,  more than any other aspect in the tea ritual, the spirit of the Cha-Do (Way of Tea), based on the design aesthetic of Wabi Sabi .  Wabi  –  ( Wa: Harmony – Bi:  Beauty – “Beauty of Harmony” ).  Sabi – represents the beauty that can evolve with age. The changing of appearance with usage reflected impermanence, always a condition that was contemplated in the Zen philosophy.  Raku was chosen for the creation of the Chawan due to the inherent unpredictability in its production. Even a Pottery Master had to relinquish control and allow the alchemy of Nature, combined with  a humble servant, to determine the result. As the non symmetrical form was essential, the Chawan was always crafted by hand. The continual rotation of the bowl in the hand was believed to  enhance the spirit of the creator in the object. Also a simple shape was favoured to evoke a serene appearance.

Sen no Rikyu, the most renowned figure in the history of the Japanese tea ceremony, recognized the connection between Zen and the tea ceremony and synthesized many of the aesthetic elements of the tea ceremony in the 16th century.  Rikyu’s legacy has been long lasting, and his summation of the essential principles of the tea ceremony–wa-kei-sei-jaku (harmony, respect, purity and tranquility)–is a common inscription on scrolls decorating the chashitsu (tea room). From its refinement in the 16th century, the tea ceremony has become one of Japan’s most interesting and enduring artistic traditions. More than a ritual for preparing and drinking tea, the tea ceremony is a means to aesthetic appreciation and social interaction that has had a profound influence on Japanese art, architecture, gardens, cuisine and philosophy. All celebrated gardens in Japan were originally laid out by tea-masters.

What are the distinguishing features of a Chawan : 

 The main one is the curving  interior wall at the bottom. A functionality which is needed to allow the Chasen ( bamboo whisk ) to reach all the corners when mixing the matcha ( fine powdered green tea ). A smooth interior is preferable  so as not to damage the Chasen. As the Chawan has to be handled with one hand in the Chadou ( tea ceremony ), a bowl that is nicely balanced, isn’t too heavy, and has a foot that can be  easily gripped, is desirable.  A Chakin ( fine linen cloth ) is used to wipe the top edge of the Chawan, so this needs to be smooth, along with the comfort of drinking from a smooth surface. The Chawan is different than an everyday tea cup, known as a yunomi, which is generally used anytime for other kinds of teas such as sencha or bancha.

Chawan – Jay Michael Hines

Great Water Ceramics

Celedon Dot Tea Bowl – Marion Angelica

Satoshi Asano

Aki Katayama

Tea Cup – James Whiting

Adam Yungbluth

A Geisha serving tea at a Cha-Dou

Jun Akiyama

Jun Akiyama

Ceramic Tea Bowl – Ashley Howard

Gary Wood

Chawan – Jay Michael Haynes

Red and black Chawan

Ceramic Yunomi – Mark Griffiths

Tea Bowl – Margaret Curtis

Bamboo in Kyoto


Jim Malone

Satoshi Asano

Mihara Ken

Mirviss Galleries

Matsui  Kôsei – ( 1927 – 2003 )

Maeda Masahiro

Nishihata Tadashi – Tamba ware

Teabowl – Jeff  Oestreich.

Tomonori Koyama

Swipe Yunomi – combed kaolin slip
copper glaze/salted

( sawdustanddirt.com )

Shino Chawan – Michael Coffee

Shigaraki Chawan

Ryoji Koie

Stoneware yunomi with chun glaze over tenmoku and copper red glaze decoration. – Peter Sparrey

Stoneware Copper Red – Peter Sparrey

( Studio Tea Bowls )

Jeff  Oestreich.


Blunomi – black slip over white slip/wax resist,
salt glaze

( sawdustanddirt.com )
Porcelain yunomi in pink

Porcelain yunomi in pink mottled glaze

( Celadonsusan -Flickr )

Seagull cup 2 - Olia Lamar

Seagull cup 2 – Olia Lamar

Stoneware Teabowl Shino Glaze

Stoneware Teabowl Shino Glaze – Yolande Clark



Micah Sherrill cup

Micah Sherrill cup

Sarah Heimann

Sarah Heimann – carved and incised cup.

Mount Fuji Tea Fields