Ceramic artist Shiro Tsujimura, a hermit of Nara to live is to create

陶芸家 辻村史朗、生きることは作ること奈良の仙人英語記事

What kind of person is potter Shiro Tsujimura? “What about pottery works?”

I will answer these questions.


Ceramic artist Shiro Tsujimura, a hermit of Nara to live is to create


This article is about 74-year-old Shiro Tsujimura, a solitary potter in Nara who is loved by international celebrities such as Robert De Niro and whose works are owned by famous museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His house was built by cutting a mountain and digging a well. He picks wild grasses and mushrooms that grow wild every day, and grows vegetables in his fields. He also teaches himself how to make pottery, starting with selling it at an open-air market, and tells a story about his life.

■Summary of this article
  • History of ceramic artist Shiro Tsujimura’s life
    Features of Shiro Tsujimura’s works

History of ceramic artist Shiro Tsujimura’s life

1947 (Showa 22)
Born as the 4th son of a farmer in Gose City, Nara Prefecture. 1965 (Showa 40) 18 years old
At the Japanese Folk Crafts Museum in Komaba, Tokyo, he encountered an Oido tea bowl and was impressed.
This inspired him to become a ceramic artist.
1966 (Showa 41) 19 years old
For three years from this year, he practiced Zen at Sansho-ji, a Zen temple in Nara Prefecture.

1969 (Showa 44) 22 years old
He made his own potter’s wheel using the wheel of a cart and started pottery.
He got married this year.


1970 (Showa 45) Age 23
Built his own house in the mountains in Mizuma, Nara City, Nara Prefecture, and built a kiln near his house.
He earns a living by selling tea bowls and sake cups he made himself on the streets of Kyoto. 1977 (Showa 52) 30 years old
He held a successful solo exhibition at his home in Mizuma, Nara Prefecture.
Despite being deep in the mountains, many people came to see his work.
1978 (Showa 53) 31 years old
Held a solo exhibition at Osaka Mitsukoshi.
At this solo exhibition, he caught the eye of Kingo Kondo, an antique art dealer.
1982 (Showa 57) Age 35
Through Mr. Kondo, an antique art dealer, he became acquainted with Mr. Toyozo Arakawa (Living National Treasure).
Mr. Tsujimura’s works are highly evaluated.


1993 (Heisei 5) 46 years old
Held a solo exhibition in Frankfurt, Germany.
He also built a kiln in West Dupont in England and started making works. 1994 (Heisei 6) 47 years old
Held a solo exhibition in London, England.
1999 (Heisei 11) 52 years old
His work has been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


As of 2021, Mr. Tsujimura will be 74 years old.

I have seen the course of Mr. Tsujimura’s life so far,
He does not have a teacher and is a self-taught pottery master. He also says that he does not take disciples.

Mr. Tsujimura has two sons who are also potters, but he doesn’t do anything like a master. Mr. Tsujimura started pottery at the age of 22, but it is amazing that he has mastered pottery all by himself without a master!


Features of Shiro Tsujimura’s works

 Soil used by Mr. Tsujimura

We order clay from all over Japan and use it according to the purpose, or mix it with soil.

“Some people say you have to use clay from somewhere, or local clay, but I choose clay according to what I want to make.”


 Features of Mr. Tsujimura’s work

At first glance, it has a rough expression. Although some pieces are partly glazed, the majority of the pieces are naturally glazed, sintered pottery, scarlet, vidro, vidro flow, scorch, sticking to other soils, and even bursting and cracking. There are also works with cracks, making it a dignified work. Coarse feldspar particles are blowing out from the skin, and there are places where “bubbles” are generated.

natural glaze large pot(自然釉大壷)

The natural glaze large pot is a large one with a height of 40 to 50 cm. Large round scars can be seen on the surface of the pot. This is the mark of burning the work with this scar down, that is, the work laid sideways. (It can be inferred from the fact that the natural glaze that flowed toward this circle.) There are also pieces that appear to have had lumps of clay or other works placed on their shoulders or attached to the sides.


big pot(大壷)

It looks like it’s molded with string. Traces (steps) that seem to have been made by connecting soil can be seen in the center or shoulders of the pot. The mouth is twisted outward, the neck is relatively short, and the diameter of the base is small. It is made up of a vase with a round shape. It’s probably a “solid hill”.



Many of his works are tall with a height of 30-50 cm. It is thought that the vase was made by digging a hole in the center of the soil mass. It is an unglazed baked work, and there are many works with viscous, burnt, uneven surfaces and large cracks. These cracks are thought to have occurred by chance due to high-temperature firing. On the surface and sides, there is a figure (Rakan-sama?) that appears to have been carved on a nail, but due to the large cracks, the design is not clear.

Some of the vases look like hardened sand and baked. In other words, the surface of the vessel is made up of fine particles of sand. The shape is also vertically long, and large cracks can be seen in the vertical and horizontal directions. It has a blue-green color (reduction firing?) and a scarlet or brown skin (oxidation?) due to the natural glaze.

A work made by turning on a potter’s wheel(轆轤挽きで成形した作品)

It is a work of about 29 cm in height. Iga-mimi vases have a wide base and a sense of stability.


Mizusashi’s work(水指の作品)

The work is 16 to 24 cm in height and consists of a co-lid (soil lid). There are many types of water sashimi that use Iga soil, such as Iga eared water sashimi, Iga yahazuguchi water sashimi, and Iga triangular water sashimi.

Scarlet, vidro, charred, and naturally glazed water fingers, with large distortions, cuts, and bursts.


matcha bowl(抹茶々碗)

Ido tea bowls, Kobiki tea bowls, Shigaraki tsutsu tea bowls, Drawer black tea bowls, Ash glaze tea bowls, Ash glaze tea bowls, Split Takadai tea bowls, Iga tea bowls, Nagaishi split Takadai tea bowls, Shigaraki Kutsu bowls, Shino tea bowls, Karatsu tea bowls, etc. I am making It is said that Mr. Tsujimura has baked more than 10,000 tea bowls so far.

plate or bowl(皿や鉢)

The number of production seems to be relatively small. Plates include a square plate (length and width 26 cm), an Iga hand bowl (diameter 24 cm), and a powder bowl (dorabachi, diameter 27.5 cm).


A ceramic plate depicting Hojo Rakan(北条羅漢を描いた陶板)

A 72.7 x 53 cm work, the surroundings are brown or white, the central part of the Arhat is black, and one or more Arhats are carved into it. In the part where the nail is carved, the white of the groundwork stands out.

Note: Hojo Rakan refers to the 500 Rakan located at Hokueizan Rakan Temple, 1293 Hojo, Hojo Town, Kasai City, Hyogo Prefecture.

(Actual number is about 450), so the maker and production year are unknown, but it is said to be from the Keicho era (1596-1614). Designated as a cultural property by the city and one of Hyogo Prefecture’s top 100 sightseeing spots.


In addition, there are works that use the same technique to depict women instead of Rakan. (53 x 33.3cm)



Mr. Tsujimura’s days of asking what it means to live, at the age of 23, he built a house with his own hands using scrap wood in the mountains of Nara, and even made his own stove. Live like a hermit!

Furthermore, he has created many oil paintings as a painter, and his skills as a calligrapher are also top-notch. It may be said that he is a versatile genius in the art world.

A special feature on Shiro Tsujimura, a ceramic artist who continues to stoically pursue beauty. It’s so cool to see him pouring his passion into his work. I also felt that I would like to be able to display Mr. Tsujimura’s work in my home in the future.

I would be happy if you could refer to it even a little.

Thank you for reading to the end.

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