Shinsui Kiln Tamba Mizusashi

Kiln: Shinsui Kiln

Approximate size: W6.7″ by H7.5″ or 17.0 by 19.0cm

This is a mizusashi or fresh water pot from the Shinsui Kiln. Quite a lot has been written about the Shinsui kiln and is readily offered online (link to one such piece below). The Shinsui kiln is managed by Ichino Masahiko who is the son of famed master potter Ichino Shinsui. Tamba yaki is generally known like Bizen to be typically clay fired without glaze.

The term Tamba Yaki (often written Tanba as well), refers to ceramics made in the village of Tachikui, Hyogo. This area has been involved in the ceramics trade for over eight centuries. There are few places in Japan that have such a consistent art tradition. Tamba Yaki is one of the six ancient Japanese pottery styles, and is certainly one of the oldest. That being said, the style has changed quite a bit over the years. For instance, Momoyama period Tamba pieces from the late 16th century have a refined feel that earlier pieces lack.

This mizusashi has been glazed with a stunningly pure shiro, or white glaze. Though difficult to show in the photo, there’s a fine-line engraving on the exterior near the halfway up the pot and on the ceramic lid. This mizusashi also had a spare wooden lacquered lid made. The wooden lid has been made to fit this mizusashi.

Tamba, one of the original Rokkoyo (Six Old Kilns of Japan). Ceramist Ichino Masahiko has single-handedly become the New Wave of Tamba, and it is not exaggeration to say that he has become the impetus for a renewed interest in this ancient kiln site. Ichino Masahiko received the Grand Prize at the Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition in 1995 at the young age of 34. That is no small feat, as the biennial event pits hundreds of potters against one another in its competition division. To come out on top, one’s work (only one can be entered) must catch the eye and recognition of a panel of judges comprised of the top ceramic potters and experts in the country. In other words, the Grand Prize at the Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition is one of the highest awards a potter can receive. 

Ichino Masahiko was born the 2nd son of Ichino Shinsui, a Tamba potter who makes traditional tea wares. His elder brother, who recently became Ichino Shinsui II, was predestined to take over the family kiln. Due to the existence of an elder sibling, Ichino was free to do as he liked. “I think this is a major reason why I was able to become independent and start my own kiln, as well as freeing my imagination with ideas that are different from traditional ones.”

After finishing high school, Ichino entered the Saga Institute of Art, wherein he learned simple pottery techniques from the same teacher as Kako. One day sitting in the library reading books on pottery, flipping through pages, I encountered Imai Masayuki-sensei’s works for the very first time. I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to study under Imai-sensei.'”

For five years, Ichino learned from Kyoto-based Imai what he calls the most fundamental requirement of being a potter: heart. “For those five years, Imai-sensei didn’t teach me a thing about spinning a wheel and so forth. What Imai-sensei did teach me was on how to be a good human being. His lessons are still with me today”. After his apprenticeship under Imai, Ichino returned to the Ichino family kiln, wherein he learned the actual techniques and traditions of Tamba from his father Shinsui. Two years after returning to Tamba, he left home to build his own kiln as an independent ceramist. Seven years after building his kiln, Ichino was awarded the above-mentioned Grand Prize.

1961 – Born in Tachikui, Hyogo Prefecture
1981 – Graduates from Saga Institute of Art
1981 – Apprentices under Imai Masayuki
1986 – Returns to family kiln, apprentices under father Shinsui I
1986 – Prize, International Ceramic Art Festival
1986 – Prize, Kansai Art Exhibition
1987 – Prize, Hyogo Modern Museum of Art
1988 – Builds own kiln in Tachikui.
1988 – Prize, Hyogo Arts and Crafts Exhibition
1988 – Prize, Kansai Art Exhibition
1989 – Governor’s Prize, Osaka Crafts Exhibition
1989 – Prize, Ceramic Art Biennial
1989 – Prize, International Ceramic Art Festival
1989 – Prize, Asahi Ceramic Art Exhibition (has won four times in row)
1989 – Prize, Hyogo Modern Museum of Art
1990 – Prize, Hyogo Modern Museum of Art
1990 – Prize, Kobe Newspaper Prize
1991 – Prize, Osaka Crafts Exhibition
1992 – Mayor’s Prize, Osaka Crafts Exhibition
1993 – Prize, Forms of the Tea Ceremony Exhibition
1994 – Prize, Kansai Art Festival, Yomiuri Newspaper Prize
1995 – Grand Prize, Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition
1996 – Prize, Forms of the Tea Ceremony Exhibition
1997 – Becomes Panel Member of the Osaka Crafts Exhibition
1998 – Selected,Collection of Works in “Search of Yakimono” NHK
1999 – Selected, Japan Int’l Charity Organization

Selection of Japanese Arts and Crafts
2000- Prize, Hyogo Art Festival
2001- Selected, Japan Ceramic Art Festival Collection of Works
2002 – Selected, Asian Int’l Contemporary Ceramics Exhibition, Taipei
2003 – Selected, Hyundai Japan-Korea Ceramic Arts Exhibition, Seoul

This mizusashi has no chips or cracks and is in excellent condition. Comes with a dedicated tomonuno (tea cloth), additional lacquered black wooden lid (depending on style or personal preference), and the original signed high quality paulownia wooden box.


Thank you very much!

For a spot-light article on this potter please visit Robert Yellin’s site here.