Robert Yellin’s Newsletter: Koinuma Michio–Significant Objects–Exhibition Previews

Greetings from Mishima,

To all yakimono fans far and wide, it’s been awhile indeed. We hope that this finds you and yours well enjoying the joys of spring.

Here in our gallery we continue to offer one-of-a-kind works each
weekday shown on our online gallery pages. Recently we offered a look at Seto potter Takeuchi Shingo, new works by Takahashi Samon and Sasaki Izuru’s tenmoku sake cups. Now, we’d like to share preview links to one of Japan’s most respected veteran potters, Koinuma Michio.


Koinuma (b.1936) was selected in a 2001 survey by a leading Japanese ceramic art magazine as one of most popular veteran potters of the 20th century. In that list number one was Kamoda Shoji–more about their connection later on–with Koinuma being in a tie for number 11 with votes that equaled Itaya Hazan, Furutani Michio, Koie Ryoji, Shimizu Uichi, Kato Hajime, Fujiwara Kei, Yamamoto Toshu and Tamura Koichi (the latter five all Living National Treasures). Yabe Yoshiaki of the Tokyo National Museum wrote of visiting a Koinuma exhibition after having just returned from the US, “I was instilled with a powerful impression of a man pursuing the most solemn and expression-oriented work in the whole international world of modern arts and crafts.”


As you’ll see in the following links to Koinuma’s most recent works–I visited him a few weeks ago and selected just fired pieces–Koinuma’s ceramic art is indeed solemn, there is an ancient feel and aura to his output not only in form, yet in firing as well. The works have a magnetic power that the current Head Curator of the National Museum of Modern Art, Craft Gallery, Tokyo Kaneko Kenji described as ‘possessive.”

All Koinuma’s forms are hand-built with slabs of clay and he hardly ever repeats forms, like that of Kamoda Shoji. Koinuma was inspired by Kamoda back on the 60s and is one reason he moved to Mashiko; at that time Kamoda was making ash-glazed works, Koinuma told me Kamoda’s work took a dramatic change in form after he met Koinuma. The two had planned to do an exhibition together, yet fate took Kamoda away much too early.

Many young potters have sought out Koinuma’s advice over the years on making forms and firing and Koinuma mentioned when now hot Mihara Ken came to visit about twenty years ago to learn about sekki-stoneware firing forms and burnishing techniques; the styles and spirituality of both potters are inspiring indeed.


We’ve offered Koinuma’s single pieces now and then over the years, this is the first time to show a number of works. The exhibition will go online from May 13th and below are hidden links of the exhibition. All pertinent details are noted in photo captions and any additional photos or details will be gladly send upon request. Koinuma does not provide boxes, yet we can order them here for a small fee and send the lids to him to have signed. He will be visiting the gallery during the exhibition,
which ends on May 29th–and we’d be happy to take a photo of any
work with him if requested. Koinuma is a rare and important Japanese ceramic artist and we hope you find at least one piece to add to your home to inspire and delight the senses and spirit.

Check more on Homepage: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

The Japan Blog List

Must-see tasting websites:
-Sake: Tokyo Through The Drinking Glass, Tokyo Foodcast, Urban Sake, Sake World
-Wine: Palate To Pen
-Beer: Good Beer & Country Boys, Another Pint, Please!
-Japanese Pottery to enjoy your favourite drinks: Yellin Yakimono Gallery
Please check the new postings at:
sake, shochu and sushi


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