Monday, December 12, 2011


To anyone that frequents my blog, it will come as no surprise that though I love all kinds of pots, I hold a special place for wood fired pottery, particularly Shigaraki and Iga. Through a number of trips to Japan, including a stay in Asanomiya, outside of Shigaraki to study, our base of operations was Kyoto so that we could take a number of day trips to both Shigaraki and Iga to see the pottery and potters there. With treks to visit Kohyama Yasuhisa, Furutani Michio, Honiwa Rakunyu, Tani Seiemon, Takahashi Rakusai and Shunsai, Otani Shiro and others, my exposure to wood fired pottery cemented itself above all others.

Among my favorite contemporary Iga and Shigaraki potters is Kishimoto Kennin (b. 1934). Kishimoto is truly one of the renaissance potters who has specialized in very controlled and exacting Iga firings for many years. In addition to his Iga wares, Kishimoto has worked and mastered a wide array of pottery styles, including; Oribe, Iga-Oribe, Shino, Ki-Seto, celadon and several others. Having first started working in the early 1950’s, he has had a number of years to study and perfect each style along the way, though his kannyu celadon and Iga works are among his best in my opinion. From my perspective, his celadon and Iga pots rarely disappoint and each one unique in its presentation, they all have something rather profound to say.

Illustrated is a large and generous Iga chawan by Kishimoto Kennin. The way in which the form is articulated, mimics the contours of the lip creating an inviting and gestural bowl that truly begs to be handled. The form together with the blend of ash and hi-iro is the paint the canvas needed to complete the chawan. One of Kishimoto’s real talents is creating pots and masterfully firing which animates the keshiki, landscape of the pot to best highlight the form and the marks of the potter. Kishimoto Kennin is a potter who very skillfully paints with fire.

You can see more pictures of this chawan here;