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Tenryu Sekisen 天竜石仙 (?-2003)

The Tenryu valley in Iida city (Nagano) is truly a beautiful place. Surrounded by mountains and forests, the Tenryu river flows along rock formations and several Onsen. Not too far from said river lay the origins of Tenryukyo-ware.

Tenryukyo-yaki was invented in the edo period, it is said that a potter from Seto came do Iida and started making pottery for the Iida clan who at that time held an important strategic position in Nagano. Pottery became popular in Iida and several kiln were built at that time. Most of them however, disappeared over time.

The Miwa kiln where Tenryu Sekisen fired most of his works is a family owned kiln that wasn’t built until the early 1900s. Teapots, vases and garden ware was fired in a “Noborigama” kiln, a chambered climbing kiln that was run with red pine wood. The kiln was built by the first generation of the Miwa family, Sekijun Miwa, who also introduced the characteristic carvings often found on tea cups and vases.

Tenryu Sekisen was asked by a shohin and mame enthusiast to produce bonsai pots. One thing led to another and it didn’t take long until Tenryu Sekisen was producing some of the best wheelthrown and handbuilt pots in the country. Techniques similar to stamp-carving (Tenkoku) were used on his high-end pots, while the mid-end pots were usually handbuilt and glazed. Let’s have a look at two unglazed signature works:

I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as i enjoyed writing it, stay safe!


Seifu Yohei V 清風与平


Seifu Yohei was involved into the developement of modern day Kyo-yaki (Kyoto pottery). Although his family was considered wealthy and highly respected, WW2 caused the Japanese Yen to plunge into the abyss and his family lost most of their accumulated wealth. In the expansion of Shimogyo ward in Kyoto a lot of the larger kilns around Gojo street had to be torn down and the family business closed temporarely.

Simple village life

Being born into a well known and prestigious pottery family he was able to follow his family traditions, but also to choose his own path and express his own creativity. Despite being fed up with pottery and giving up on the potters lifestyle for a while, it was his friend Tsukinowa Yusen who helped him back on his feet to re-explore his passion. Charcoal containers and flower vases became rare as he explored new and fun items such as sake cups, mame bonsai pots, chopstick rests etc. His paintings became vivid again, celadon works became rare and colorful scenes that take place in villages and nature took over.

Detailed rim, freehand painted on a wheelthrown cascade pot.

Seifu Yohei took over various methods and glaze recipes from his family which he combines into magnificent works of art. In the art world, he is not known as a bonsai potter, but rather as a ceramic artist that produces tea utensils, vases and decorative ceramic objects.

Trees, flowers, people and animals are painted in a quirky way and reflect his own personality while most of his shapes remain traditional with the exception of his Yusen inspired animal shaped containers.The brush strokes on his bonsai pots are fun, made with ease and reflect his bonvivant mentality. There are no massproduced pots, each is crafted with great sense of craftsmanship. As art investements gains popularity, so do his pots.

Guardian lion dogs climbing the pot.

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