Shin Fujihira Kyo Chawan

Potter: Fujihira Shin

Approximate size: W4.9″ by H3.1″ or 12.4 by 7.9 cm

A work by one of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Fujihira Shin (1922-2012). This potter was fascinated by Kanjiro Kawai during his youth which is what made him aspire to become a potter as well. He dropped out from Kyoto Institute of Technology Ceramics Department and studied with his father Masakazu Fujihira (who had worked in a business centering around ceramics production and studied under the 6th Kiyomizu Rokubei). From these humble beginnings he became a highly prolific and successful potter which amongst serving as a judge and jury member at the Japan Ceramics Association, lead him to become professor at the Institute of Technology in Kyoto.

Fujihira Shin (1922-2012) was born into the family of a ceramics dealer in Kyoto, raised among the pots, and attended the Art University, however, in his second year would lose four years of his life to battling illness. This life and death struggle would make him a strong character, coming forth from then on in his works.

Much has been written about him. The following quote is from the article written in 2004 for the Japan Times newspaper (see bottom of post).

Kyoto ceramic artist Fujihira Shin creates works imbued with a childlike glee and an overflow of intelligent, rather than intellectual energy that it’s impossible not to fall in love with. Fujihira, who was born in 1922, hails from one of Japan’s most famous pottery areas, the Gojozaka district in Kyoto. As a young boy he would follow his big brother over to the house of the legendary late Mingei giant Kawai Kanjiro (1890-1966) to watch him at work.

Kyo yaki or Kyo ware refers to a style of ceramics that spread from the Higashiyama area in Kyoto during the early Edo period of the Tokugawa rule (henceforth this family line continually ruled Japan for more than 250 years). It was around this time that the art of Chanoyu or the Tea ceremony became popular and widespread in Japan. By contrast, the pottery produced along Gojo-zaka, a street leading to Kiyomizu Temple, was called Kiyomizu yaki. Nowadays all pottery produced in Kyoto is commonly referred to as Kyo or Kiyomizu ware.

1922 Born in Kyoto
1958 Awarded Japan Fine Arts Exhibition (Nitten) Grand Prize, Hokuto Prize
1960 International Ceramics Exhibition, Florence, Italy
1963 Awarded Chrysanthemum Prize at the Nitten
1970 Contemporary Ceramic Art – Japan and Europe
1973 Awarded Japan Ceramic Society Award
1974 Traveling Exhibit/ Central and South America
1978 Traveling Exhibit/ West Germany: Masterworks of Japanese Ceramics
1982 Traveling Exhibit/ America and Canada
1990 Awarded the Kyoto Art and Culture Award
1991 Received the Kyoto City Cultural Order Award
1993 Awarded the Mainichi Art Award
1994 Awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize of the Japan Crafts Society and the Fujiwara Kei Memorial Award
1996 Awarded the Kyoto Prefecture Cultural Award
1999 Awarded Japan Ceramic Society Gold Prize

Works by this artist are in the collections of the Tokyo National Museum of Modern Art, the
Kyoto National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art Nitten Trustee, Professor Emeritus at Kyoto City School of Arts and numerous others.

He would come to the national scene first upon receiving the Hokutosho prize at the Nitten National Exhibition in 1958. This brought him to the forefront of the ceramics scene. He was awarded the JCS (Japan Ceramic Society), award in 1973. During his career works by him were often selected to represent Japan and it’s arts overseas, in Europe, and the Americas. He was awarded the order of cultural merit in 1991 by Kyoto prefecture. In 1993 the Mainichi Ceramics Prize. In 1996 Kyoto prefectural order of cultural merit and in 1998 received the Japan Ceramic Society Gold Prize, one of the highest honors for a Japanese potter. Held in the collections of the V&A, National Museum in Warsaw, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo has more than a dozen pieces, only to be outdone by Kyoto which has more than 20 pieces.

This chawan is in excellent condition without chips or cracks. It shows signs of use. Comes with the original high quality paulownia tomobako of which the lid bears calligraphy plus the artist’s stamp and a dedicated tomonuno or tea cloth. Pieces by this artist are highly coveted and don’t come by often.

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To read an excellent article about this potter written by Robert Yellin click here