Robert Yellin

For Robert Yellin's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Ryuichi Kakurezaki: on clay and legends

Feb 19, 2014

Ryuichi Kakurezaki: on clay and legends

It’s not easy to make profound changes in a ceramic style that has a 1,000-year history. Take, for instance, the style known as Bizen. Bizen pottery is one of Japan’s most celebrated high-fired unglazed ceramic styles, and continues to be so to this very ...

<em>Chawan</em>: Simply, some of the hardest works of pottery to create

Sep 25, 2013

Chawan: Simply, some of the hardest works of pottery to create

In the world of Japanese traditional ceramics there is not one form held in higher esteem than a chawan, a “mere” bowl used to serve whipped green tea. For more than 400 years this celebrated clay form has challenged potters to create a perfect ...

Crawling through the mud in style

Jul 24, 2013

Crawling through the mud in style

It’s quite fitting that the major Osamu Suzuki (1926-2001) retrospective, the first since the ceramicist’s passing, is taking place at The National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, the hometown of the artist. Suzuki was one of Japan’s most important ceramic artists of the ...

Modern serving of traditional tea

Oct 29, 2010

Modern serving of traditional tea

If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to attend a tea ceremony, then you know that within the simplicity of movements, the quiet beauty of the room and the refined elegance of the utensils, there is a deep world where the moment becomes living art. ...

Contemporary ceramics update the tea ceremony

Sep 3, 2010

Contemporary ceramics update the tea ceremony

The Way of Tea has for centuries been a cornerstone of Japanese culture and aesthetic beauty. An old Japanese proverb states: “If a man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.” Within the tea world there are stunning ...

The rewards of hardship

| Apr 5, 2007

The rewards of hardship

One of Japan’s most influential 20th-century ceramic artists, Mineo Okabe, was relatively unknown — and certainly under-appreciated — during his lifetime. Today, though, potters take great inspiration from, and collectors go gaga over, the bold new forms and styles he created. It’s often said ...

New forms of old traditions at the Japan Society

| Dec 7, 2006

New forms of old traditions at the Japan Society

Over the past several years there have been quite a few exhibitions of Japanese ceramics overseas, but “Contemporary Clay/Japanese Ceramics for the New Century,” which is now at the Japan Society Gallery in New York, is the most brilliant by far. The bulk of ...

Crafting the tea demon in Hagi

| Aug 24, 2006

Crafting the tea demon in Hagi

Psychologist Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), in his theory of self-actualization, said, “If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” At 96 years old, the grand potter of Hagi, Miwa ...

Looking back on 10 years of yakimono

| Dec 22, 2005

Looking back on 10 years of yakimono

In the 10 years since this column started, much has changed in the worldwide perception of yakimono, Japanese ceramic art. I’m talking about in the contemporary realm, not antiques. The deep and wide world of contemporary Japanese ceramic art is as varied as there ...