We recently spent the day touring the famed Asahiyaki Kiln in Uji and were lucky enough to get some time to sit down Matsubayashi Hosai, the 15th head of the Asahiyaki lineage of potters. He is the direct descent of the famed Asahiyaki style. The most popular are the beautiful clay tea bowls dotted with faded bluish dots, reminiscent of the detailing on some of Yoshitomo Nara’s paintings. Bright primary colors are featured in many of the houhin style kyusus and small yunomi (tea cups)

The kiln is situated on the banks of the Uji river. Uji is blessed with great water and clay and Asayaki pottery utilizes both.

Hosai san Kindly showed us around the kiln, taking us through the schedule for firing and sharing numerous interesting facts: the kiln will reach a high temperature somewhere in the ballpark of 1300C, his father’s works (14th head) are showcased and the Brooklyn museum (His work’s will join his dad’s “But I still have more work to do before that” he said), He loves the Yankee’s.

As we sat down to tea he introduced me to the work of his son, Yusuke, who will be the 16th head of Asahiyaki. Yusuke san is making a name for himself as a hungry young designer and artist. His own work is striking: firmly rooted in tradition with some modern edges (see image 4). Yusuke san recently joined the “kyoto 5”, 5 like minded young Japanese designers honoring traditional craft culture while working together at growing a new market for design in Japan. The past and future of design are colliding in Japan, and the results look great!

zach manganComment