Meeting Mr. Yoshikawa Kodo

 

I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Yoshikawa KODO, Master of Traditional Crafts for his engraving technique, a title recognized by the ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan in June, 2010.

 

His engraved teapots give an added flair to Tokoname teapots which have already garnered high praise for their functionability and beautiful shapes.

 

Kodo was born into the family of a Tokoname potter, so he was brought up with clay on his hands along with his brother Setsudo. It would be reasonable to assume that he chose to become a potter without thinking about an alternative career, but this was not the case. He actually worked as a designer for an automobile parts producing company for some years. Looking back, he thinks this helped him to have a wider scope in his engraving motifs.

KODO learned engraving techniques from Tokoname craftsman, Shouson. In the world of craftsmen, techniques aren't taught one by one as in a classroom.

It is rather a case of watching the whole process and stealing tips here and there.Without learning to think for himself, the craftsman can never suceed or overtake his master.

 

Engraving on teapots and on flat surface are quite different. On a concave surface, the engraving has to be adjusted, so that the motifs are visualized beautifully, especially the engraved writing. KODO said the size of each character and the pitch are subtly different.

 

 

 

The flowing writing is impressive. It is as beautiful as calligraphy masters' brushstrokes, but KODO does it with his petite knife. He said that if he makes an error in engraving the writing, it cannot be corrected. Intense concentration is required, meaning that the creation of one piece is a time-consuming process.

Kodo engraves many classic motifs, some of them humorous. This is a teapot of Daruma (Bodhidharma) and a high class beautiful woman. She is cleaning Daruma's ear.

 

KODO says that he studies the motifs well, so that he can give the characters the right feel, especially with regard to the eyes and facial expressions.

 

 

The God of wind (left)

 

 

KODO engraves on his younger brother Setsudo's teapots as well as other potters' such as Yoshiki. He chooses the teapot shape to compliment his designs.

Kabuki motif on a Tea jar &
Sumo motif on a teapot

 

 

KODO is very enthusiastic about exploring new fields and engraving new motifs. My visit to him assured me that he was highly professional and one of the best master engravers which Japan posseses.

 

I look forward to seeing more and more of his exquisite work!

 

 

 

 

Tokoname teapots by Setsudo/Kodo
Tokoname teapots by Setsudo/Kodo

Tokoname teapots by Setsudo/Kodo

Rikyu hyakushu (100 poems by Sen no Rikyu)

This intricate work is a testament to the intense concentration skills of the craftsman. Each tiny character needs to be inscribed perfectly as just one small glitch would cause the whole work to be ruined.


fugakusanjurokkei by Kodo

fugakusanjurokkei engraved by Kodo


Potter’s profile ― Yoshikawa Kodo 

1947 - Born in Tokoname, Japan
1968 - Learned hand-throwing from his father Setsudo and ceramic engraving from Shouson
1976 - Awarded a prize (Techniques section) at the Choza Prize Ceramic Exhibition.

1977 - Awarded the Chairman prize of Tokoname-city Congress.

1979 - Became an instructor of Senchado―Baisaryu school

1986 - Presented with an award from the Japan Ceramic Industry Federation for his contribution to the industry        

1986 - Awarded a prize (Techniques section) at the Choza Prize Ceramic Exhibition.

1987 - Became a Master of Traditional Arts and Crafts, recognized by the minister of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan
1988 - Put in charge of engraving  a gift for the President of Korea

1988 - Presented with an award by the head of the Nagoya Commercial Agency

1988 - Commended as an excellent talent in traditional industry

1989 - Awarded a prize at the Choza Prize Ceramic Exhibition.
1989 - Awarded a commendation by the chief of the Chubu Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry
1990 - Awarded a commendation by the chief of the Chubu Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry

1991 - Awarded a commendation by the chief of the Chubu Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry

1996 - Awarded a prize at the Choza Prize Ceramic Exhibition.

2003 - Awarded a prize at the Nihon Dento Kogeishi Sakuhin Ten (Traditional Craftsman Exhibition) 

2003 - Awarded a prize by the Chubu Region Agency of Economy and Industry  for his contribution to  traditional industry
2005 - Commended for his contribution to the traditional crafts industry by the Minister of Economy and Trade.
2005 - Held a private exhibition at Gallery Sepica

2005- Awarded the "Prime Minister prize" at the 52th Tokonameyaki Shinko Exhibition (Tokoname pottery promotional exhibition)                                 

          
He was a instructor in the engraving section of the successors’ educational work program for 15 years since 1988.


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