Well-known ceramicist Wendy Kershaw shares her experience of a three-week trip to Japan, where she visited museums, exhibitions and studios
Like many ceramicists, I’ve wanted to visit Japan for a long time, and this September I finally made it. I’ve been attracted to many aspects of Japanese pottery, intrigued by the culture and aesthetics, and wanted to experience a country that seemed to appreciate ceramics much more than my own.
My partner Jey and I spent one week in Tokyo, then two weeks seeing as much as we could of the main island, Honshu, clutching our Japan rail passes, lugging rucksacks on and off buses, cable cars, boats and some very comfortable fast trains. It’s a safe and easy country to get about, with most signs being in English as well as Japanese, and is very organised. The Japanese must be the politest nation, and we were given so much help and courtesy.
In Tokyo, I visited the National Museum, and was bowled over by the wonderful large collection of ceramics on display, and the prominent status that it was given. It was amazing to see the ancient Jomon pottery, as old as 10,000 BCE, and the large figures and animals from 8300-5000 BCE, thought to be representations of the spiritual world. There were Imari ware dishes, with exquisitely painted cobalt and enamel images, and I loved the Oribe ware, with its free and anarchic decoration, as if different patterned cloths in the layers of a kimono were juxtaposed.
A highlight of my visit was ‘The beauty of Akura Sabi’, an exhibition of the work of ceramicist Tsuji Seimei held in the National Museum’s craft gallery building….