Friday, November 1, 2013


My first encounter with the work of Kimura Ichiro was back in the very early 1980's, I had acquired a group of exhibition catalogues from a book dealer and among them was one on Kimura from 1976. There was quite the array of pieces from thrown to the molded henko pots and each had a distinctly folk art look of Mashiko-yaki. On our first trip to Japan in 1990 and subsequent ones we were able to see a large number of his pots especially in Mashiko, where his work was displayed in a number of galleries. What became immediately apparent was that while Hamada Shoji was a product of a variety of his experiences and travels, it is safe to say, Kimura Ichiro was a product of Mashiko and the community and lifestyle that Hamada and other Mashiko potters had crafted out of a long standing craft tradition. Kimura Ichiro (1915-1978) studied with Hamada Shoji prior to WW II and after his apprenticeship set up his studio and kiln in Mashiko and fired his first kiln load of pots in1947. Like fellow Hamada students Shimaoka Tatsuzo and Murata Gen, Kimua Ichiro has gone on to be a major fixture of Mashiko pottery and was part of a major exhibit of Mashiko potters in the late 90's. His son, Kimura Mitsuru, continues in his father's footsteps.
Illustrated is a form that appears creatively composed of stacked blocks around a central core; this signature vase by Kimura Ichiro changes with each angle and perspective it is viewed. Having a touch of M.C. Escher in its design, this clearly is one of his best and most well known forms along with his more traditional Hamada Shoji style molded bottle and his quirky "football" style henko. The pot is covered in a yellow ash glaze with red high-lighted quadrants with white and copper accented sprigs of floral decoration on both front and back. This vase is a rather purposeful and resolute piece that has volumes to say about Mashiko-yaki and Japanese pottery of the post-war period; function, design and presence.