Ceramic Artist Profile

Sawada Hiroyuki

ceramic artist Sawada Hiroyuki's name in Japanese

Charcoal, or sumi in Japanese, is one of the essential elements in tea ceremony.  Placed inside the hearth at the center of the tea room, it heats the cast iron kettles used to boil water for the sacred tea.  Among the many different types of charcoal, one reins supreme above all.  It is called kiku-zumi, or chrysanthemum charcoal, and its name comes from the fired cross-section which resembles the pattern of a chrysanthemum blossom.  Since the 15th century, one hamlet in the wooded region of Hyogō Prefecture's Kurokawa district has supplied the noble kiku-zumi, and historical records show that it was used by warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his appointed tea master Sen no Rikyū.

image of chrysanthemum charcoal

Located at the base of Mt. Myōken in the Kurokawa district is a modest kiln established and tended by ceramic artist Sawada Hiroyuki.  For over 40 years, he has specialized in the production of pottery tea ceremony utensils, including tea bowls, incense holders and fresh water jars.  An avid practitioner of tea ceremony himself, he possesses a deep knowledge of Japan's tea heritage and the critical role that tea ceremony, or chanoyu, plays today in preserving the ceramic arts.

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Sawada Hiroyuki


Born in Sakai City, Osaka


Completes apprenticeship at Taikō-gama (Taikō Kiln), Nishinomiya, Hyōgo Pref.


First solo exhibition, Osaka Hotel Plaza


Establishes own kiln in Kurokawa District, Hyōgo Pref.


Works exhibited at Kansai Gakken Toshi's founding ceremony


Solo exhibition, Takashimaya Gallery, Osaka


Solo exhibition, Hankyu Gallery, Osaka


Sawada Hiroyuki finds particular inspiration in works from the Momoyama era (1573-1603) - the time when tea ceremony was reaching the apex of its development in Japan.  As a result, his clay creations are grounded in the aesthetics of tea culture from that era and resonate with Zen spirituality.

Two ceramic traditions define Sawada's craft, and both have made significant contributions over the centuries to chanoyu.  The first is the monochrome pottery born in Kyoto in the 16th century.  Called Raku, it is the genre of pottery most closely associated with tea ceremony and the legendary Sen no Rikyū.  The other is Iga - a stoneware first fired in the late 7th century and which became popular among the busho-chajin, or warrior tea men, who found its rustic character complimentary with the aesthetics of chanoyu.  With an abundant supply of kiku-zumi nearby, Sawada has developed a charcoal-burning kiln in which he fires his energized rendition of Iga.

Today, the body of Sawada Hiryoyuki's work is defined by the quiet elegance of his raku tea ceremony bowls, the whimsical sculpting of his incense holders, and the powerful kiln dynamics rendered on his Iga vases.


Sawada Hiroyuki holds regular exhibitions across Japan at major department store galleries, including Takashimaya, Hankyu, and Mitsukoshi.


exhibition name

Osaka Exhibition & Firing

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exhibition name

Osaka Exhibition

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Potter's Insignia

Sawada Hiroyuki's works are stamped on the footring with the kanji character "Sawa" - the first in his surname.  His full name and artist stamp are found on the wooden presentation box.