2020年3月25日水曜日

Eimei the famous bonsai potter in Tokoname


Hello, I am Yuki, an owner of YUKIMONO webstore.Today let me tell you about the bonsai potter, Eimei of Youzan-Toen.


Hideaki Shimiz, and his professional name as a potter is Eimei, was born in 1960 in Tokoname. His father, Masaaki Shimizu, the founder of Yozan-Toen is well known as a prominent master of glazed pots, succeeded in the commercialization of the first cinnabar bonsai pots in Tokoname.



Though Eimei, the second generation of Yozan-Toen is also known as a master of glaze, I think the characteristics of his work is the beauty of the shape and the very delicate color of the glaze.
All the shapes of his pots are elegant and sophisticated, especially the curved line of the feet has a sexy feel. Once I asked him "What image did you have in your mind when you created the shape?” His answer was just what I thought. “There are many things but one of them is a beautiful ankle of the woman.”



One of his representative glazes is celadon. Look at this oval bonsai pot which is one of YUKIMONO products. The small cracks covering the surface look like a beautiful pattern.

This version is created with a new glaze which he successfully created recently after struggling for about 2 years to perfect this technique and effect. At first glance, it looks like there is a purple glaze but on closer inspection you can see that there are lots of tiny patina that is purple in color covering the blue glaze.

Needless to say, producing a beautiful and unique glaze is difficult and needs time-consuming work for all ceramists, however, once Eimei has developed a new glaze, he can keep making them stably and effectively. That’s is why he has been respected as a great bonsai potter.

Thank you for reading YUKIMONO blog post!

2020年2月1日土曜日

"Each and everyone is different"-----Mayu's Dharma Face Bonsai Pot

This little bonsai pot of which someone's face is painted on is one of the most popular works by Mayu, the famous Japanese bonsai pot painter. Do you know whose face is it?
It is the Dharma face.

Dharma is a figure which is modeled after Bodhidharma who was a founder of Zen Buddhism, however, it is also a kind of Japanese traditional doll that is most beloved by the Japanese and used as a talisman. Most companies, shops, and politicians have a Dharma doll, so if you visit Japan, you would see it somewhere.

Mayu paints various kinds of Dharma faces with many facial expressions like –surprise, piercing gaze, anxious, troubled, angry and so much more. The wonderful thing about Mayu’s paintings is that even though she has been painting Dharma faces on pots for more than 15 years there are no duplicates and each and everyone is different. She told me “I can’t paint any face exactly like the one I painted before.”
Recently, Mayu has come up with some new faces for her Dharma pots.
One is of a pretty lady’s face------but wait a minute as I was writing I remembered that Dharma is modeled after the Zen priest and the lady Dharma doesn’t make sense. So I call it a Drag Dharma.
The other is a furious and angry face. The expression, especially its eyes are so strong and piercing, however, strangely enough, they look adorable. That’s why they are popular with bonsai enthusiasts all over the world.
The Tokyo Olympics will be held from July, 24 to Aug, 7, this year. In commemoration of the most historic biggest event; I put up for sale 5 of Mayu’s Dharma pots which are blue, black, red, yellow and green color on the desk. 
They are available in YUKIMONO online store.
Happy shopping!

2019年9月8日日曜日

The History of Tokoname Bonsai Pots


  Japanese bonsai pots were born in Tokoname roughly 150 years ago. Today, the name Tokoname is synonymous with bonsai pottery and well known around the world. Let us explore its history and the accomplishments of our forefathers.

The beginning

       Tokoname City, Aichi Prefecture, is known to be one of Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns. Its pottery-making history dates back nearly 1000 years. Production of earthen jars and pots began in the medieval age, red “Shudei” teapots appeared in the modern period and clay pipes, tiles and toilets have been manufactured since the Meiji Period. As the first bonsai pots in this history, it is said that plant pots for orchids were introduced in the mid-1800s. They were produced in large quantities from the late Edo Period to the Meiji Period, as demonstrated by the large plant pots that appeared at the First National Industrial Exposition in 1877 and more pots from Tokoname exhibited at the exposition several years later. However, that did not mean that Tokoname became the center of bonsai pot production right away. Let us look into the landmark developments that led to its rise.


Meiji Period

        The first development that fanned its growth was the bonsai boom that spread in the early Meiji Period, first from Osaka, then to Tokyo and around the rest of Japan. By the middle of the period, Tokoname pots began to appear as pots made exclusively for bonsai plants. The majority were round pots shaped on the pottery wheel but were soon followed by rectangular pots, chiefly for bonsai use. Due to the popularity of "Deimono*" earthenware pots among bonsai fans, the soil in the area around Tokoname was probably best suited for the clay to making the "Deimono*" bonsai pots.

*Deimono: Unglazed bonsai pot

       At that time, Seto in Aichi Prefecture enjoyed overwhelming popularity for its plant pots. Since the latter part of the Edo Period, Seto provided plant pots in vast quantities to all parts of Japan, offering from elegant, artistic pots to be presented to the homes of feudal lords to affordable pieces for the common people. By the end of the Meiji Period, Seto plant pots began to disappear. Mr. Takashi Furuhashi , a researcher on Seto plant pots, attribute this in part to "Seto pottery in the Meiji Period losing the patronage of the lord of Owari and other feudal lords that it enjoyed in the Edo Period." Although plant pots continued to be made in Seto in the Meiji and later periods, less and less effort was put into the craft in comparison with the quality attained during the Edo Period, leading to a decline in pottery craftsmanship.
Elegant and artistic Seto plant pots of  Edo period. These pots are owned by Mr. Tkashi Furuhashi.


Taisho and Showa periods

        While Seto plant pottery declined, bonsai pottery in Tokoname gained momentum, stirred by demand from bonsai gardeners. By the middle of the Meiji Period, efforts were being directed to reproducing the old Deimono pots of China, regarded as the finest by bonsai aficionados. This diligent work reached fruition with high-quality Deimono beginning to appear in the Taisho and early Showa periods, dubbed "Taisho-toko" by fans. These pots earned the same praise as that directed to the Chinese pots.


      The late Akiji Kataoka (also known as Juoudo-shosen 十王堂 松泉, his professional name as a potter), founded Kataoka Seitosho (later renamed Yama’aki) in 1920 and conducted research into old Chinese pots with great diligence and contributed to the advancement of the quality of Tokoname bonsai pots. The company's reference literature shows that pots from his kilns bore the "Kinka-zoin" impression, a famed ancient Chinese pottery brand, in 1927. Although the seal impression was placed at the request of a wholesaler, it demonstrates that the quality he achieved at that time was already so high that they could not be distinguished from their older Chinese counterparts.
This pot was made by Akiji Kataoka about 100 years ago with "kinka-zoin" impression. This pot is owned by Mr. Tadashi Sekino.


Pre-WWII period

       Although not widely known today, bonsai pot production in Tokoname reached a high in the early Showa period, reportedly peaking in 1932-1936. Under these circumstances, the first national bonsai exhibition, Kokufu-ten, was held in 1934. With the rise in the demand for bonsai, the variety of pots expanded, both in shape and color.  The types of clay included, udei (grey clay), shudei (vermilion clay), shidei (purple clay), kokudei (black clay), and hakudei (white clay). Examples of glazed pots are namako (sea slug), kinyou (sky blue), blue, and white. Shapes also were various, including round, rectangular, oval, hexagonal, octagonal, hanagata (flower-shape), mokkou (Japanese quince), and kengai (cascade style) shapes. The fundamental styles seen in Tokoname today were already established at this time. With the outbreak of WWII, however, bonsai pots, regarded as non-essential to the war effort, disappeared.
It is said that this big pot was made in Tokoname as a fuel tank for Japanese battle planes at WWII. It is displayed at Tokoname Tonomori museum.

Post-WWII period

       Demand for bonsai pots recovered slowly from the 1950s and reached a golden age in the 1970s and 1980s. The post-war bonsai boom accelerated the spread of Tokoname pottery across Japan. In the 1973 breakdown of flower and bonsai pot production centers in Japan, Tokoname ranked at the top with a 50% market share. Despite the subsequent decline in the demand for plant pots, Tokoname continued to enjoy the top share of Japan's bonsai pot market. When Tokoname pottery gained recognition as a traditional craft in 1976, its bonsai pots drew attention as well.

        The potters of bonsai pots during this period engaged in experimentation, including improvements in the clay and the development of new glazes. One such effort was the reproduction of ancient Chinese udei and shidei clays. According to Mr. Katsushi Kataoka (professional name: Reiho), Tokoname bonsai pots were made chiefly with shidei, hakudei and kokudei. There were udei pots but not in the color seen today. His father and fellow potters decided to create the finest udei pots and tested all types of clay found in the Tokoname area. 
Master Katsushi Kataoka, Reiho.
         Glazed pots saw improvements as well, with colors not seen in the prewar days being introduced as glazes. The late Masakazu Shimizu (professional name: Yozan), a prominent master of glazed pots, succeeded in the commercialization of the first cinnabar bonsai pots in Tokoname.

YAMA'AKI

         There is no doubt that Yamaaki, the largest pottery production operation in Tokoname, played a major role in the advancement of bonsai pots from the region. More specifically, its accomplishments were the creation of high-quality products that show sophistication and dignity as bonsai pots in color, texture, shape, etc., as well as their superb functionality as a receptacle for plants, and for paving the way for mass production in factories. Yamaaki founded by Akiji Kataoka in the prewar days opened its new factory in 1971. The giant gas kiln with its capacity for 100-200 large pots was fired 5-6 times a month during the peak period. Although mass-produced, veteran craftsman attended each step of the production process, finishing the product with care and attention. The company also worked on improving pot breathability and reducing weight with the addition of sawdust to the clay.
The huge kiln of YAMA'AKI


Export

          Another point of great importance is that Yamaaki had the foresight to pour energy into sales. According to Mr. Sadamitsu Kataoka (professional name: Koshosen 小松泉), the founder's son, the company has been exporting bonsai pots to other countries since 1950. He said, "I myself went to the United States for a year after graduating from high school (around 1968-1969). Initially, I was able to live in a trading company dormitory in a town near Los Angeles and sold pots to bonsai vendors in America." Their products were exported not only to the United States but also to Europe and even to China via Hong Kong. He believes that Tokoname pots gained global recognition because they were being sold overseas from that time.
Master Sadamitsu Kataoka

Thank you very much for reading this blog post to the end!

2019年8月4日日曜日

The July display of Hanging Scroall and Another Bonsai at Takao-komagino-teien

The project "Displaying Hanging Scroll with Bonsai Every Month" has started at Takao-komagino-teien in Tokyo last April. The purpose is to deepen our understanding of Hanging Scroll and explore how to display beautifully with bonsai.

On July 13, the Japanese paper craft artist, Wakako Ishisone, the bonsai master, Koji Nagasawa and YUKIMONO gathered in the Tokonoma-room of Takao-komagino-teien. Let's see how we display for July. 

東京・八王子市にある高尾駒木野庭園の古民家で、表装造形家・石曽根和佳子(いしそねわかこ)さんの掛軸が飾られています。石曽根さんの作品に魅了されたYUKIMONO主催者のわたくしが、盆栽と一緒に飾ったら来訪者に喜ばれるのではと、同庭園の盆栽管理者である盆栽家・長沢孝二さんにご相談したことから,
2019年の4月に始まりました。月替わりで、古民家内の床の間2カ所に、掛軸と盆栽を飾っています。

7月13日の土曜日、7月の飾りのために3人が集いました。プロジェクトの第3回目です。今回はどんな掛軸と盆栽が新しい空間をつくりだすでしょうか。さっそく拝見していきましょう。(6月の飾りはこちらこちらをご覧くださいませ)


作品1: 扇面軸  Fan

表装に使われているのは、青色が鮮やかな葛布です。江戸時代に使用された裃の布をほどいて仕立てたと、石曾根さん。中心には、きらびきの紙に和歌が筆書きされた、扇面を飾っています。
短歌:
 秋靄(あきもや)や おし年(ね)の蛍 飛(ひ)かふもすかるも おなし影の涼しさ

 蛍の鑑賞時期はいつかご存知でしょうか?各地で異なるようですが、一般的にピークは6・7月のようです。見ごろの時期を過ぎた8月に入っても蛍が飛んでいる、その初秋の様子をこの歌は詠んでいます。

床の間に飾ると、葛布のブルーが鮮やかに見えます。全体でグラデーションがかかった濃淡の違いもあって、たいへんシンプルな掛軸であるのに、美しく、かつ上品な存在感があります。下に、ふんわりとした草物盆栽を添えました。


作品2: カブトムシ軸 Beetle 

カブトムシの墨絵を、質感の異なるさまざまな黒色布でパッチワークのようにあしらった、変わり貼り表具の掛軸です。石曾根さんが、およそ10年前に作ったものです。
全体には黒っぽく見えますが、それぞれの布をよく見ると、一つひとつが異なっています。古代絓(しけ)、紬、黒箔など、質感の独特な古い絹の布を、バランスを考えながら継ぎ合わせて一つの作品に完成させています。すべて明治時代半ば以降の着物に使われた布だそうです。石曾根さんが、表情に違いのある黒い布にこだわったこと、ところどころに白布を効かせたことで、モダンさも感じられるユニークな作品に仕上がっています。

なぜこのように、さまざまな布をしらったのか。「カブト虫の絵だけでは、存在感が弱い気がしたので、この掛軸全体を見ていただく作品にしようと、さまざまな絹の黒布を配置し、全体のバランスで見せるために白を大きく入れました」と石曾根さん。
左に向けて、カブト虫がいかにも飛び出そうとしている様子なので、その方向に空間をつくり、実物の盆栽を右流れで配置しました。ここに置かれているのは山ぶどうです。作品1でご紹介した「扇面軸」とは異なる雰囲気の空間が生まれています。

次回は8月の予定です。