Potter: Rakunyû Yoshimura, Nidai, 2nd generation
Approximate size: W4.8″ by H3.5″ or 12.3 by 12.3 by 9.5cm
This is a high quality Raku utsushi by the nidai or second generation Rakunyû Yoshimura (1959-), of one of two chawan that were designated National Treasures of Japan. The subject chawan is known as Fuji-san and its creation is originally attributed to the famed Kōetsu Hon’ami. Rakunyû Yoshimura’s kiln is named Rakunyû-gama and as evidenced by this utsushi this potter is an expert at using traditional Raku glaze and techniques of Raku yaki. The kiln mainly produces chawan used for matcha but but in lesser numbers also hanaire, flower vases, kogo (incense containers), and tea plates. Rakunyû-gama is also striving to create light coloured ceramics. Coors otherwise not seen in Raku yaki. Time permits one such piece will be listed in the future.
High quality duplication traditionally has been admired for established Japanese ceramics since creating high quality duplication requires extremely skilled and broad-based techniques in all aspects of creation, and often compels the artisan to meticulously recreate an atmosphere which often was created on accident by the original artisan. Only a few artisans can duplicate historical treasured arts of Raku yaki.
Kōetsu Hon’ami, who due to his proficiency in multiple arts is also referred to as the Japanese Da Vinci. During his life he was considered to be great master in calligraphy, pottery and lacquer. In various other arts and crafts he excelled. A historical figure of great significance not only in the evolution of Raku but in many fields of art.
1959 Born in Kyoto, first son of the Shodai, 1st generation Rakunyû Yoshimura
1984 Graduated from the Prefecture’s Pottery Training Institute, then starts apprenticeship under his father tutelage
1989 Founded Rakunyû-gama
2000 Received a seal from Sennyu-ji Kumagaya Tatsuhisa Osho
2001 Became a certified Traditional Craftsman
2004 Succeeded to the name of Manpukudo Yoshimura Rakunyû
2011 Was certified as a Kyoto City’s Master Craftsman of the Future
If one imagines thousands of ceremonies during centuries and great care then these bowls would be highly similar in appearance and atmosphere, this utsushi truly shares a remarkable resemblance.
It is said that during the firing a chance event caused ash to get sprinkled on the glaze and the bottom half of the chawan turned black due the flames fully carbonizing the constituents of the glaze.
Kōetsu was given clay by Donyu II, the grandson of the first Raku potter Chōjirō. Even though Kōetsu’s workmanship was inspired by the Raku Kichizaemon family tradition, he was such a unique and multi-talented individual he infused his being into his work. One of these called “Fuji-san“, is designated a National Treasure. It was named after Mt. Fuji to which it held a resemblance. With its snow-capped peak and the forests lower down the slope. Currently Fuji-san is housed at Sanritsu Hattori Museum.
The black glaze is traditionally created from crushed stones retrieved from the Kamogawa river in Kyoto (often abbreviated to Kamo river). Red glazes are mixtures of a translucent glaze over a clay body often fired multiple times to add darker areas in the red glaze called “fu”. When bowls or utensils are glazed with with red Raku glaze they are fired at approximately 800 degrees where the black glaze when fired can reach a kiln temperature of up to 1200 degrees.
This river was also the location of one of the most iconic and famous samurai battles in history; the encounter between Minamoto no Yoshitsune and warrior monk Benkei at Gojō Bridge during the late Heian period. Benkei was said to have wandered around Kyoto every night on a personal quest to take 1000 swords from samurai warriors, who he believed were arrogant and unworthy. After collecting 999 swords through duels and looking for his final prize, he met a young man playing a flute at the Gojo tenjin Shrine (上野東照宮), in Kyoto, sufficed to say he did not take this young man’s sword.
This is a remarkable utsushi that comes very close to what one can imagine the original looked like. This bowl remains in excellent condition, no chips, cracks or defects to mention. It comes with the original paulownia tomobako of which the side bears the potter’s calligraphy. Additionally a pamphlet with information about Rakunyu and his kiln is included.
Thank you very much!
Raku yaki or Raku ware is a type of pottery that is fired at relatively low temperatures and was first made in Kyoto by the Kichizaemon Family. This particular family has a lineage that goes as far back as the 16th century. It is traditionally created by hand by a technique called ‘tezukune’. Raku is typically simple in appearance, lightweight and usually has a soft surface exterior.