Meeting KATO Juunidai for preparing the ceramic exhibitions 2018 in Europe

Already 12 years have passed since we first visited the old part of the famous ceramics town Seto. At that time, a Japanese friend’s mother, who knew about our passion for Japanese ceramics, had explained us the way to the remote place. There, we talked with several artists in the historic ceramics town.

KATO Juunidai

Yet, we were not yet lucky enough to meet KATO Juunidai himself, although we already discovered his atelier. 10 years had to pass until, in 2016, our first personal encounter with KATO Juunidai, the 12th generation of the ceramist family, took place.

Koseto Chawan (Matcha bowl) by KATO Juunidai

After the first year of our cooperation, to our great joy, KATO Juunidai decided to work together with us (A.M.) as his partner in Europe – now, this autumn, according to his wish, we have the pleasure to organize three exhibitions. Today’s visit at KATO’s atelier in Seto gives us an opportunity to plan many details of the planned exhibitions together.

Comparison of one glaze in two firing methods by KATO Juunidai

These exhibitions are scheduled for mid-November 2018 in Cologne, Paris and Kiel. While in Cologne we have planned so show Matcha bowls (Matcha Chawan) only, for the exhibitions in Paris and Kiel, KATO Juunidai will also exclusively create a number of special teapots (Shiboridashi) and several tea bowls (Yunomi). Additionally, in Kiel several plates (Okashi-zara) can be seen, which are traditionally used for the preentation of sweets in Japanese tea ceremony. These pieces pick up on the traditional glazes and clay types of the ceramic town Seto, while at the same time combining these with, for example, new shapes, objects of a novel character are created as well, which are considered the style of KATO Juunidai.

Chawan (Matcha bowl) created for the exhibitions 2018 by KATO Juunidai

Historic pieces: Matcha bowls by KATO Juunidai’s grandfather KATO Juudai

A special highlight of the exhibitions are several old original works: Matcha bowls (Matcha Chawan) by KATO Juunidai’s grandfather, KATO Juudai. In the second half of the 20th century, KATO Juudai created a number of superior Matcha bowls (Matcha Chawan) – often by order of famous Japanese tea ceremony masers – of which some are in the possession of the KATO family today. Of these few original works in the possession of the KATO family, A.M. exclusively received six Matcha bowls (Matcha Chawan) of various styles. Some pieces take up well-known styles, some belong to unrepeatable stylistic variations which KATO Juudai himself developed in the 20th century. Knowledge about how the regarding glazes can be produced and fired, was not even passed on to the grandson KATO Juunidai.

Historic Chawan (Matcha bowl) by KATO Juudai for the exhibitions 2018

These unparalleled original works by KATO Juudai will be presented next to the works by KATO Juunidai in the exhibitions in Cologne, Paris and Kiel in November. Thus, the exhibitions will bring together works of both generations – grandfather and grandson KATO – and will allow a time jump into the history of Japanese ceramics from the 20th to the 21st century.

For admirers and collectors of Japanese ceramics the exhibitions in November 2018 will further provide a special opportunity: KATO Juudai will travel from Japan, to be present in person at specific dates, at least once at each of the exhibitions.

(Guest article by A.M. GbR Segl, Rösch and Lenzgeiger)