Yunomi, Tea Cup, Mashiko-yaki (Mashiko ware) by Ootsuka Keiichi. H.3.375" (8.5cm) x Dia.3" (7.5cm.) Volume = 7oz (210ml.) Light brown glaze with iron brush work of grasses.
There are many potters named Ootsuka in the Mashiko area, and it was Ootsuka Keizaburo who established the first Mashiko pottery in the 1850's. Ootsuka Keiichi was born in Showa 23 (1948) and at the age of 18 went to apprentice at the kiln of Sakuma Totaro, whose family kiln gave Hamada Shoji the opportunity to establish himself in Mashiko. After 7 years, Keiichi established his own kiln at the age of 25. This lineage makes him among the few remaining "old school" Mashiko potters. He has exhibited his work around Japan, inlcuding at the Japan Folk Crafts Museum and tries to maintain a traditional Mashiko spirit in his work.
The town of Mashiko is located about 70 miles northwest of Tokyo, in Tochigi Prefecture. Although there is evidence of pottery manufacture in the region of Mashiko as far back as the 8th century; production in the modern age began in 1853, making it a relatively young pottery center by Japanese standards. However, whereas many traditional pottery towns disappeared when Japanese lifestyle changes made many functional clay items obsolete, Mashiko has survived and thrived as one of the largest pottery communities in the world. Much of this can be credited to life and work of Shoji Hamada, who decided to settle in this traditional clay village. Although he was a contemporary artist, he showed great respect for the work of traditional artisans, for the natural materials available from the region, and for the “Other Power of tradition.” He was a leading figure in the Japanese Folk Craft Movement, along with Soetsu Yanagi and others; such as potters Bernard Leach and Kanjiro Kawai, textile artist Keisuke Serizawa, and woodblock printer Shiko Munakata. Hamada was desginated as a National Living Treasure for his preservation of Mingei “Folk Craft” pottery and promoted an openess which led many to follow his path to Mashiko. Currently, there are some 400 kilns operating in and around Mashiko making a wide variety of wares; from traditional styles and patterns to modern artistic works.