Tokyo Weekender: 10 Japan-Based Contemporary Ceramic Artists You Need to Know

December 23, 2022

Sharon Alphonso

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If you have a background in design, a pottery hobby, or simply an eye for aesthetics, you would appreciate handmade Japanese ceramics. Despite being around for thousands of years, they continue to evolve and adapt to the current times. 

Contemporary artists in Japan are also carving out niches for themselves by blending traditional pottery styles with work that appeals to the modern world. Textures, firing methods, coloring and shapes communicate the artistic and emotional content of Japanese ceramics. 

Molded with care and designed by hand, no two ceramic pieces are alike. These small details play a significant role in giving ceramics their distinctiveness, story and value. When in Japan, do check out these contemporary ceramic artists. 

Kazunori Hamana 

Born in Osaka, Kazunori Hamana lives a simple life filled with activities close to his heart. Besides being an experienced fisherman and a farmer of organic rice, he is also a self-taught ceramicist. As a child, he developed a deep philosophical interest in the universe. Both on a micro and macro level, he became increasingly aware of the impermanence of life, and that concept affected his lifestyle and work. 

Using modern techniques in shaping, coloring, glazing and firing, he creates ceramic artwork influenced by the ancient Japanese ceramic styles and symbols of the Jomon (14,000–300 BCE) and Yayoi (300 BCE–300 CE) eras. Inspired by traditional Japanese tsubo (“vases” or “jars”), he creates large and delicate handmade vessels from natural clay sourced from Shiga Prefecture. Besides the massive clay jars, he makes terracotta burial statues and everyday objects. 

Yukiko Kuroda 

Yukiko Kuroda specializes in a popular ceramic repair technique such as kintsugi (the art of repairing broken ceramics). She joyfully collects and accepts ceramic objects with cracks, fissures and chips. She supports the kintsugi technique as it reduces waste and encourages recycling. Mixing lacquer with powdered gold, silver and pewter, she repairs these broken ceramics and gives them a second chance at life.

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