In the old quarter of Amagasaki (Hyōgo Prefecture), you'll find Kotoura-gama, or Kotoura Kiln. With a history stretching back more than a century to the Meiji Era and strong links to the world of tea ceremony, the kiln has a longstanding reputation as a maker of exquisite pottery and porcelain tea ceremony utensils.
Wada Tōzan is the third generation of Wada family ceramic artists. His career began in 1972 when he started apprenticing under Wada Haruo, his father, at Kotoura-gama. As the present-day master of the kiln, he has dutifully upheld its 105-year-long reputation.
Born Wada Masāki, Kyoto
Graduates from Osaka Technical College
Starts apprenticeship at Kotoura Kiln under Wada Haruo (father), Kotoura Kiln
Joint Exhibition with Wada Hiroaki, Daimaru Gallery, Osaka
Wada Tōzan & Wada Hiroaki Joint Exhibition, Gallery Thuillier, Paris
Kyoto Takashimaya Gallery Exhibition
Tokyo Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Exhibition
Wada Tōzan's specializes mainly in Kyo-yaki (Kyoto ware) porcelain. His tea ceremony bowls, vases and fresh water jars display a surprising level of beauty and sophistication with their intricate patterns and masterful brushwork. Low-relief enameled images of seasonal blossoms, traditional Japanese patterns, and 24 carat gold detailing are the trademarks of his craft.
In addition to porcelain, the artist also works in the genre of pottery most associated with tea ceremony - Raku. In fact, many of his tea ceremony bowls (chawan) have been endorsed by the current Urasenké Tea Master, Iemoto Hōnsai, who has given names to certain bowls which embody the Spirit of Tea.
The delicate precision of porcelain, however, isn't the only aspect of Wada Tōzan's artistry. In 2002, his lifelong dream of building a wood-burning noborigama climbing kiln was fulfilled with the christening of Ōizumi-gama, or Ōizumi kiln, and this marked an exciting new era in the artist's work. His exhibitions now resonate between the sophisticated ring of porcelain and the unrefined tenor of wood-fired pottery.
Wada excels in the exceedingly difficult haikaburi technique, where pots are placed directly inside the stoking area of the kiln and, during firing, become covered with ash. Those fortunate pieces that manage to survive the grueling firing conditions are born from the kiln with a raw energy rarely found in other types of ceramics.