Shiokai Kenji who lives in Kyoto, Japan began making pots in 1972. There is a good bio of him on Ryan’s site that can be found here. We purchased one of Takao-koyo’s pots a good while back from Koju-en located in Kyoto.
Takao-koyo glazed pot.
We placed a very nice exposed root maple over rock in this pot. I always smile when I tell this story because almost everyone who saw the pot and then the tree said it will never work together. Everyone’s attitude changed once the trident/rock was in the pot as it was a stunning combination. It is clear that Shiokai Kenji has been influenced by Tofukuji by just looking at the glaze treatment. This is the only one I have seen on Koju-en’s web site. Ryan has several of them and I believe he would agree they are quite lovely.
Heian Tofukuji (平安東福寺)
If you follow Tofukuji pots at all then this pot is instantly recognizable. Beautiful glaze combination and a very nice form. This pot was for sale at Kokufu-Ten this year. We bid $5,000 US for it – it sold for over $12,000. It is one of our very favorite Tofukuji pots. You can easily see how Shiokai Kenji styles his pots after the glazes of Tofukuji.
Another favorite of ours is Yusen. We believe his paintings are the best of any potter/artist that has painted scenes on pots in Japan. We are fortunate to own two of them, thank you Peter, and we enjoy them due to Yusen’s ability to paint highly detailed scenes in very small spaces.
Tsukinowa Yusen (月之輪湧泉)
This pot in our collection is just barely 5cm in size, but look at the detail in his painting.
Collecting Before the Potter Becomes Famous – or Dead
So at this point you are likely wanting to know – if you are still reading – why talk about Tofukuji and/or Yusen in a post about Shiokai Kenji? So here is the reason why.
I can’t tell you the number of times I have said something like this: “I sure wish I had been in Japan when Tofukuji was alive and selling his pots. I bet I could have gotten a hand full of them at a great price!” There are a number of potters we could say this about: Yusen, Kouzan, etc. So back to Shiokai Kenji – one day I was reading Ryan’s blog post about Shiokai Kenji and his comparing his painted pots to Yusen it struck me – “wait a minute this potter is awesome, his pots are reasonably priced, and his paintings are excellent.”
I think you know what comes next. Duh – “KJ we should buy some of his pots for our collection.” Yes, we were awed at our own stupidity – wishing for something that will never occur while an opportunity literally sitting in our lap – or perhaps on our American Express card.
We have only been able to find Shiokai Kenji’s pots at Koju-en owned by Tomohiro Masumi. So we went to his site to see what he had and then we reached out to Tomohiro to see what he had in stock. He has just left for Kokufu-Ten (February, 2014) but promised on his return he would check to see what he had in inventory – we had ask for a specific pot on his site.
In the end we decided to purchase 11 of his pots. Nine we have received and the other two are being made by Shiokai Kenji. Tomohiro was kind enough to ask Shiokai Kenji to paint a pheasant by his signature on one of them and on the other to hand sign Higa and Yogi in Kanji as these are KJ’s dad and mom family names.
So let’s take a brief look at Shiokai Kenji pots. We will post more details as we take photos of all sides of these pots.
Shiokai Kenji – pots signed as takao-koyo
Photos courtesy of Tomohiro Masumi (c) 2014.
Tsukinowa Yusen (月之輪湧泉)
We learned from Tomohiro that pheasants are Shiokai Kenji’s favorite animal. They are often seen on his pots.
This is Shiokai Kenji artist mark. On some of his pots only the square mark is shown. We know that some of the pots that he paints are purchased from a third-party while some he makes himself. Our guess is that those that he has made and painted have both marks.