Zenko Yasuda Kyo Tumbler Yunomi

Potter: Zenko Yasuda, Masahiro

Approximate size: W2.85″ by H3.8″ or 7.3 by 9.7 cm

This is a tumbler yunomi by famous potter Zenko Yasuda (1926-2011), suitable for coffee, tea or different beverage. Zenko Yasuda, who’s real name was Masahiro Yasuda was born in Kyoto in 1926. He studied at the Kyoto Craft & Fabric University, specializing in the making and building of kilns. Afterwards he studied pottery under the 6th Kiyomizu Rokubei (1901-1980). After going independent he build a kiln called Rokushin No Kama in Kyoto. Zenko Yasuda created unique and distinctive stoneware using complex glazing techniques. He passed in 2011 at the age of 86. I think this a neat yunomi as it is with a different glazing technique by this potter. The glaze ingredients so to speak, interacted and the spontaneous movement of the brushwork undergoing a different reaction ended up with its own quality. It gives me that very specific feeling or impression that comes entirely through the character of Yasuda Zenko’s work.


This cup is surprisingly lightweight and lighter than the average yunomi. This is mainly due to the thin walls and ‘basin’ (for lack of a better word; floor or interior valley). Sharp angles are created by means of slicing clay called mentori. Starting from the shoulder area up to about halfway. In total there are 10 faceted sides to this cup. Curiously the glaze and dynamic brush strokes are in opposition to the mathematical feeling the shaping gives me. As if the glaze overrules the shape with its abstract energetic strokes that go all over, giving the glaze more depth and detail but it is still confronted by each angle.

Zenko Yasuda (1926-2011), Studied under Kiyomizu Rokubei VI. First displayed nationally at the Nitten in 1950. He was awarded the prestigious Japan Ceramic Society Award in 1958 and was subsequently collected by the Metropolitan Museum of New York in 1963. Awarded at the Nitten in 1964 followed by the National Modern Crafts Exhibition in 1967 and collected by Japanese Government in 1971 (Gaimusho). A Private Exhibition of the artists work was held in San Francisco in 1978, a rarity for a Japanese artist at that time.


In 1958 Zenko Yasuda was awarded the Japanese Ceramic Society Prize and since has regularly been included in the Nitten. Later he served at the Nitten Exhibition as a member of the jury. His work was acquired by Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1964 and the Museum of Modern Art in Shiga prefecture boasts no less than 10 works in their collection. A highly regarded 20th century Japanese potter.

This yunomi or tumbler cup is stamped on the bottom and condition is excellent. No chips or cracks to mention and comes with the original paulownia tomobako, storage box with calligraphy and potters seal on the lid.


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The vase and this yunomi have identical work-technique and finish

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.

Those interested can follow this link to see an overview of award winning works at the 2001 exhibition held by the Japan Ceramic Society (Nihon Toji Kyokai). Amongst the winners were Living National Treasures, Intangible Cultural Treasures – simply some of the greatest and most famous artists including our subject potter Zenko Yasuda.