Swanica explores Japan

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I went to Mashiko to meet with Lee Love and his wife Jean, who are showing/selling their work in a stand at the Mashiko Spring Festival: the Tokiichi.

Mashiko is the name of a town outside of Tokyo that is famous as a folk-craft village. The term mingei (folk art) was coined by Yanagi Soetsu (1889-1961) to refer to common crafts that had been brushed aside and overlooked by the industrial revolution.Yanagi and his lifelong companions, the potters Bernard Leach, Hamada Shoji, Tomimoto Kenkichi and Kawai Kanjiro, sought to counteract the desire for cheap mass-produced products by pointing to the works of ordinary craftsmen that spoke to the spiritual and practical needs of life. The mingei movement is responsible for keeping alive many traditions.

Mashiko is the home of Hamada Shoji (1894-1978), a National Living Treasure and you can visit his house, kiln and they build a museum to show his work (and others) at the Togei Messe, where Lee had his stand.

Lee fires his ware in a wood firing kiln and his pieces have the most wonderful colors of the ash from the wood burning falling on the work during the firing.

Jean makes wood prints, which are very colorful.

At the festival are more than 500 potters. You can not see it all in 1 day. But there are some wonderful potters out there, who do the most exquisite work.

Eaun Craig

Matt Sovjani


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