Art created by flames “Potter, Kozo Kato”

Art created by flames
"Potter, Kozo Kato"



Pottery of Mino region

Pottery production in Gifu is said to have started in the Heian period, and later, after Kamakura and Muromachi periods, it took shape as ”Mino-yaki”.
In the Azuchi-Momoyama period, pottery called ”Mino Momoyama Pottery” was made, and it became popular all over Japan. It is still a major industry, making up more than half the total pottery market in Japan. ”Oribe” and ”Shino-yaki” are among the most famous.
”Oribegonomi (Oribe’s favorite) ”, created by military commander and tea master Oribe Furuta, is also famous.

Masterpiece named “Setoguro”

We interviewed Kozo Kato who is famous as a ”Shino-yaki” artisan, yet he was designated as a Living National Treasure in 2010 for his technique called ”Setoguro”, which is a type of ”Mino-yaki”. ”Setoguro” is a technique which was created in the Momoyama period, but it became obsolete at one time. It was revived by the late Living National Treasure, Toyozo Arakawa, and was passed on to Kato.
It is a color created by baking the pottery in the kiln and then removing it just when the glaze has melted.
The color cannot be created unless the pottery is removed from the kiln which is said to reach 1200 degrees Celsius, and cooled immediately. Natural intuition to determine the perfect timing to remove the pieces from the kiln, and a strong determination to challenge the roaring flames are essential to making this pottery.



Many possibilities dwell in a bowl

Nakata studied Kato’s work very closely. Noticing that each piece, all baked in the same kiln, has different textures and colors, he uttered, ”It is so strange that a slight difference has such drastically different results.” Kato recommended pottery making to Nakata , saying ”Why don’t you take a little time to make one yourself?”
Nakata painted a picture on a bowl Kato had shaped.

”I’ll be waiting for you to visit when we light the kiln.” Kato said.
”I really appreciate that,” replied Nakata.
”Hiire (baking)” is a process Nakata has never seen nor experienced. This process expands the realm of opportunities for pottery.


Potter Kozo Kato
Tajimi, Gifu Prefecture