Friday, June 25, 2010


Whenever I think about Bizen pottery today, I invariably think of the Isezaki family. Isezaki Yozan(1902-61) was the father of Isezaki Jun, Ningen Kokuho of Bizen pottery and his brother Isezaki Mitsuru, Prefectural Living National Treasure of Okayama and Jun’s son is one of the quintessential faces of modern Bizen pottery; Isezaki Koichiro (伊勢﨑 晃一朗 ).

Isezaki Koichiro (b. 1974) has had a rich learning experience having studied with his father (Jun) as well as, being in proximity to his uncle (Mitsuru) and his father’s apprentice Kakurezaki Ryuichi. Koichiro also went to the US and studied with noted wood fire potter Jeff Shapiro. This blend of eastern and western traditions is evident in his pottery and firing technique which is helping add a new definition to modern Bizen pottery.

Much of his work is similar in style to the pictured chawan. His chawan in particular, have been stripped to the bare essentials of form and are nearly minimalist in execution. His work is not only visually engaging, but is seductive in the hand, soft in it’s lines, evocative and enticing. To finish the bowl, the wood firing has left rivulets of ash cascading down the teabowl further accentuating the height and curve of the piece. The foot is also deceptively simple in it’s finish and the roving lip calls you into the interior. Overall this chawan is a minimalist tour de force.

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