Monday, October 29, 2012


Horii san says, "Wait two more weeks.  They usually bloom around November 4th."  While he talks, he cuts the  bottom brown leaves.  "This place used to be in the middle of rice paddies long ago, we didn't have this kind of problems."

"I see," I say, "the concrete underneath and your iron gate heat up too much during hot summer, and that burns  leaves."

"Yes.  Long ago, we used heavy clay pots, but now I'm old, I can't handle them."

"I see those are plastic pots.  Clay must be better for controlling the temperature.  My grandfather used to grow chrysanthemums, and he used clay pots."

"I just came back from hospital today after a week stay, and they are already in this mess.  I fell ill last year during this time, and kept going back and forth from hospital multiple times.  Maybe this is the last year."

"Please don't say that.  The field of medicine has greatly improved.  I hope your health will improve so that you can show next generation of your chrysanthemums next year."

These chrysanthemums are all the children of his last-year flowers.  I don't know how old each flower is and their names, but he said he's been growing them for 15 years.  So, some are probably 15 which is teen-ager.  In Japan, kids reach legal adult age at 20.  Next time I see him, I'll tell him that.

With his permission, I took Horii san's photos.

"I took some photos last year and made a blog.  Many people from other countries are looking at my blog.  I will create a new blog again with this photo of you this time.  Next time I see you, I'll show you.    Please live long life."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Four Mashiko Potters at Tokyo Tech

Yesterday, four Mashiko potters gathered at Tokyo Tech and had a panel discussion.  The subject was on thoughts of creating arts. 

Hamada Tomoo, a grandson of Hamada Shoji said he works from 8 am to 5 pm daily and experiments his artistic creation plus producing other products like other craft workers. 

Matsuzaki Ken said he only makes what he wants the way he wants, and in the past, potters tend to regard firing itself beyond own technique, something beyond their control, but he regards his firing as his original creation.  I thought what he said was very interesting.  Firing has been almost like the act of god, but how many woods, how fast or slow the potter can add them to his fire, and I can even imagine many elements potters can vary.  Firing must be very tiring.  They have to babysit their kiln for three days and nights.  They can’t sleep until they are all done.  He also said to make his arts special; he changed his technique from using wheel to hand twist-and-form. 

Murata Hiroshi was the only Tokyo Tech graduate turned a Mashiko artist not only out of the four panelists, but since Hamada Shoji.  He talked examining one word at a time about his thoughts.  He talked the least among the four, and I thought he was like my father. 

Harvey Young is an American artist from Chicago.  He said his large plates were all destroyed in a few minutes when Mashiko was hit by the earthquake a year ago.  We hear a lot about Northeast's devastation, but many other places were also affected like Mashiko.  Harvey replied straightforwardly yes to the question, "Do you think of how you can sell well when you make potteries?"  He also said he thinks about how well his customers can use his products.  The first time his sensei, Mr. Seto, asked Harvey if he remembered how it was like when he sucked his thumb as a child.  Mr. Seto said, "Make it like that."  His words had a great influence on his pottery career. 

All the artists agreed that in their daily life, they use their best products with minor imperfection.  I know they wanted to say more about that, but to general audience, it wasn't easy to explain.  Most inexperienced people just don't buy an expensive pottery with even a minor imperfection.   So, this kind of arts, we need to touch, feel, use it to really appreciate, they said.  But in my opinion, to really understand how good a plate is, we need to pay for it and own it and use it repeatedly.  Anyway, it was very interesting to hear them talk.