|Kaneshige Toyo (1896 – 1967)
Toyo Kaneshige was born in Inbe, Bizen City, and became a National Living Treasure in 1956. He became a potter through his father, Baiyo Kaneshige. Pursuing the beauty of Old Bizen with added research and a strict intrepid style, he was successful in bringing out the sheen of the Momoyama style. Reviving the beauty of Momoyama for modern times from the Meiji Era, Kaneshige is considered to be “The Ancestor Who Rejuvenated Bizen Ware”, the artist who led the dying Bizen Ware to its current glory.
|Fujiwara Kei (1899 – 1983)
Kei Fujiwara was born in Honami, Bizen City, and became a National Living Treasure in 1970. After attaining his goal as a writer, he began Bizen Ware from the age of 40, and undertook Toyo Kanashige’s training. Creating his works from the ideas of “plain, simple, clear”, Fujiwara was a master potter who established “Kei Bizen” for its magnanimous warm-hearted style.
| Yamamoto Toshu (1906 – 1994)
Toshu Yamamoto was born in Inbe, Bizen City, and became a National Living Treasure in 1987. Trained under artists such as Yaichi Kasube, he was a master of the pottery wheel. Many of his masterpieces are tea and sake vessels. His delicate and refined style has been celebrated by tea ceremony masters all over, and he himself is known as “Teacup Toshu”.
|Fujiwara Yu (1932 – 2001)
Yu Fujiwara was born in Honami, Bizen City, and became the 2nd generation of his family to achieve National Living Treasure status. Apprenticing under his father, Kei Fujiwara, Yu Fujiwara inherited his style. Possessing an ambitious and modern view, Fujiwara also had a generosity which referenced Yayoi earthenware. Preserving the essence of the beauty of Bizen Ware, he created his works with a universal aesthetic sense.
|Isesaki Jun (1936 – )
Jun Isesaki was born in Inbe, Bizen City on February 20, 1936, and became a National Living Treasure in 2004. Isesaki graduated form Okayama University’s Education Department. He entered the world of pottery under the tutelage of his father, Yozan. In 1996, he received the Sanyo Newspaper Prize for contributing to culture. In 1998, he became the director of the Japan Industrial Arts Association, and its secretary-general of the Chugoku branch. He was certified as a Bearer of Important Intangible Cultural Assets for Okayama Prefecture. In 2002, Isesaki decorated the lobby of the new Prime Minister’s residence, and in the next year, he was responsible for projects such as the interior design of Okayama University Student Association Hall. He has put his own stamp into the field of ceramic art.
Article and photos by Bizen City Tourist Association