Monday, August 3, 2015


I often wonder what it would have been like to study with Kawai Kanjiro or Hamada Shoji, two giants who helped define Japanese ceramics during the 20th century not to mention their influences around the world. It must have been a staggering experience that set one's direction into motion but what about having studied with both of these pioneers, it could only be described as the best of both worlds. One such potter who studied with both Hamada and Kawai was Okuda Yasuhiro (1920-1999) having studied under each during the lean war years. After his experiences under both masters, Okuda established his own kiln around 1949 and even Bernard Leach visited his studio in 1956. Okuda established two distinct signature styles, one a mingei influenced body of work, many of the pieces with rich and colorful overglaze enamels with fish as a central theme and the other pursuit was haikaburi style woodfired wares of which the illustrated chawan is a classic example. This chawan is light and comfortable in the hand and has a rich surface of natural ash deposited about the bowl and interior which runs toward the mikomi to create a rich pool of liquid ash. Overall it is a simple bowl with a fine form and well cut foot but perhaps it is the spirit of his masters along with a unique ability to blend both worlds into a single object that makes the work of Okuda Yasuhiro as appealing as it is understated.