The potter Takashi Sato makes simple, white ceramic tableware. Creating a beautifully simple object is not a simple task. Takashi Sato has been creating ceramic tableware at his studio in his hometown, a quiet suburb sounded by rice fields in Ouma, Kitakyushu since 2004. Before that, he settled at Okada gama (Okada Kiln) at Hagi in Yamaguchi and studied traditional Japanese Hagi ware under the master Yu Okada for six years. Hagi ware is traditional Japanese ceramics from the Hagi region in Yamaguchi.
“I am not an artist, but a craftsman,” Takashi said. His ceramic works look mild and moderate in appearance. He said that he wants to create ceramics that blend well with other objects on the table, so that they are suitable for everyday use.
His own personal involvement in ceramics dates back to more than two decades ago. In his first year of senior high school, Takashi came in touch with the ceramic world. He was asked to join his school’s newly created ceramic club. He recalled that he joined the club casually, because he liked craft. He soon discovered that he enjoyed to work with clay. He felt that making ceramics was something that he could continue and work hard at to become the best. He decided to become a potter when he was in his second year of senior high school. Takashi then studied fine arts at university with a specialization in ceramics.
Takashi recalled the time he spent at the Hagi ware Kiln for six years and said that he is very lucky to have had a wide range of experiences – from splitting wood for his master’s firewood kiln to spinning a pottery wheel to make the traditional Hagi ware.
Hagi ware has a four hundred year history. It originated in the early 17th century, along with the Japanese tea ceremony. There is an old tea adage in Japan, saying “First Raku, Second Hagi, Third Karatsu,” which ranks different areas of ceramic production in old Japan. Hagi ware tea bowls are appreciated by many tea ceremony masters. Simplicity is the art of the tea ceremony. The Hagi ware’s rough clay and milky white glaze creates beautiful, traditional teaware.
Japanese pottery is one of the oldest art forms and many traditional local kilns are spread throughout Japan. Takashi said that often people ask him “which pottery style do you practice?” While he has great respect for the traditional Japanese wares, he wants to create his original style.
He wanted to make ceramics at his hometown in Ouma right from the very start. After completing his training under the Hagi ware master, he came back to Ouma and started developing his own, original style. He said that he does not want to continue practicing the same way that traditional Hagi ware potters practice. He wants to creates his own style in his hometown, which is not in a traditional pottery region.
He recalled that after he settled in his studio in Ouma, it took several years to develop his own individual style.He said that highly colored or overly vivid objects can be tiring to use in daily life. He prefers to create ceramic tableware that is simpler and more unassuming, because it blends better with daily living. That is his theme and what he wants to make.
The entire process of making ceramic works is diligently performed by Takashi himself. There are so many steps and each one requires delicate care.
He calls himself a ceramic craftsman. He makes products so that people will continue using them for a long time. The simple forms of his ceramics are crafted with the experience gained from many years of practice. Experience is the origin of simplicity.“I don’t know what is good,” he said in response to my questions on what is good about handmade ceramics. “There are good mass-produced ceramics,” he continued. He said however that people who use handmade ceramics know what is good about things that are made by hand.
Ceramic works from Takashi Sato blend easily into your every day life. As soon as you touch and use his handmade ceramics, you will discover why they are so special.