Giving back through creative work ”Ceramic artist Akiyoshi Shiga”

Giving back through creative work
”Ceramic artist Akiyoshi Shiga”

Born in a potter’s house

Stylish form with a modern touch, soft and friendly feel. The clarity of celadon with cracks colored using red clay. The eyes are naturally drawn and instantly, you are in awe. That is the appeal of Akiyoshi Shiga’s ceramic pieces.
Shiga is an aspiring celadon artist who was awarded the Grand Prize at the Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition in 2007, the youngest artist in history to receive the award. But when asked why he became a ceramic artist, his honest response was ”By chance. Actually because I had no other choice.” Born the eldest son of a traditional ”Soma yaki” kiln master in Yoshiemachi, Fukushima Prefecture, he became a ceramic artist as well. Not allowing himself to be bound by tradition, he has been applying his bold ideas to his creative activities.

The importance of understanding the characteristics of the kiln

As of December 2012, Namiemachi, Fukushima Prefecture was still designated an evacuation zone due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear accident that followed. All of his tools are still at his home in Namiemachi where he used to work.
Nakata asked ”If you do not use the tools that you’re familiar with, does it affect your work?”.
Shiga answered ”Of course. And the kiln is also very important in pottery.”.

”Especially with the celadon that I use, it is necessary to stabilize the reduction, so I have to know the kiln’s habit. I had to try baking in the same kiln many times to discover the stable ones after failing numerous times.” This makes it difficult for him to continue his creative work. He is currently looking for a place which will serve as a residence and studio, but even if he finds the right location, he told us, the first year will be spent making test pieces.

Creating pieces that are better than before

Shiga’s evacuation still continues. He is married and has a family so he worries everyday how he is going to live and support his family. Shiga told us ”There was a time when I wondered if I should give up being a ceramic artist and take on a different job.”
Yet he still continues to pursue his future as an artist. Support came from his customers who are waiting for his work, and from his fellow artists. He stays in contact with the clay and uses the potter’s wheel in a friend’s studio, so as not to lose his touch.
At the end of our visit, he told us with conviction ”I would like to make a full comeback and make pieces that exceed those I’ve made before. I think that the best way to repay the customers and artists who are supporting me, is to make a comeback as an artist no matter how hard it may be, or how long it may take.”


Pottery artist Akiyoshi Shiga
Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture