(Fifth in a series.)
The city of Kanazawa, capital of Ishikawa Prefecture, hosted the International Hokuriku Kogei Summit on August 14, focused on presenting the living tradition of kogei from Japan to the world. The summit highlighted the uniqueness of Ishikawa’s kogei heritage and featured leaders in the regional movement to strengthen this traditional culture while sharing it with others both in Japan and abroad.
One of Kanazawa’s famous Japanese kogei products is Ohi-yaki pottery. The style dates back to the 17th century and the first Chozaemon Ohi.
The Summit featured eleventh-generation Ohi-yaki potter, Chozaemon Ohi XI, as one of its panelists. Ohi also took time to talk to JAPAN Forward about his vision for the future of kogei. Excerpts follow.
Ohi-yaki is widely known for its tea bowls, which are all formed by hand into unique and beautiful shapes to which captivating glazes are applied.
Chozaemon Ohi XI carries on this style developed by his ancestors over hundreds of years, many of whose works are housed in the Ohi Museum.
Recent works by Ohi and his father are displayed in the Ohi Gallery, which was designed by architect Kengo Kuma under the careful coordination of Fumi Kimura, both of whom also spoke at the Summit.
His work has also taken him around the world, from receiving a master’s degree from Boston University in the United States, to holding a solo exhibition at the Whitestone Gallery in Taipei.
At a time when Japanese kogei is facing challenges, Ohi told JAPAN Forward that the key question is how a kogei craftsperson can increase the audience for their products.
“If we stay still, will we be noticed? Or what if we set up a website?”
Instead of these options, Ohi focused on a simple answer: “The best thing is to create good products. If we do, people will notice.”
For considerations other than creating the product, he said, “it is best to entrust that to others.”
Ohi added that Ishikawa is a place where kogei is able to thrive. “The traders are warm and cordial,” he said, while also warning that “creators shouldn’t come to depend on that.”
From his first-hand experience as an artist with deep roots in the region, he notes that “in Ishikawa Prefecture craftspeople are friendly with each other.”
He pointed out another of the region’s strengths: ”Younger generations are able to see things like the organization of a studio or have chances to go see exhibitions. In these ways, they are able to see high-level products or meet high-level people. It’s a great chance.”
Stay with us as JAPAN Forward continues delving deeper into the ideas of each panelist on the future of kogei, and the ways in which Ishikawa is showcasing Japanese culture in articles already published and yet to follow. RELATED:
- [Part 1] Kogei: Unique Japanese Crafts the World is Waiting For
- [Part 2] Japonism: How Japan’s Kogei Crafts Influenced the World
- [Part 3] ‘Bringing Spirit to Japanese Kogei’: Masashichi Nakagawa
- [Part 4] Designing for Modern Kogei: ‘Cement Produce Design’s’ Tsutomu Kanaya
- [Part 6] What Works and What Doesn’t? Fumi Kimura’s Thoughts on Opening Kogei to the World
- [Part 7] Kengo Kuma On Japanese Kogei Crafts and ‘Fun and Lively Designs’ Post-COVID-19
- [Part 8] How Hyatt Centric Hotel in Kanazawa is Showcasing Japanese Crafts to the World
Author: Serena Landers