When The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, opened in 1963, it was gifted 45 craft pieces from its Tokyo counterpart. The Takashimaya department store advertising manager, Kenichi Kawakatsu (1892-1979), celebrated the inauguration by bequeathing three pieces by potter Kanjiro Kawai (1890-1966). A museum curator then selected another 415 pieces from Kawakatsu's Kawai collection, which were donated to the museum and added to with another seven works to fill in gaps in Kawai's early career.

The 425 Kawai pieces became a cornerstone of the museum's collection and have been shown three times previously: in 1968, 1983, and 2005. Now, "Potter Kawai Kanjiro: Works from the Kawakatsu Collection" again brings them to public attention.

This exhibition is another of various recurrent homages to the beloved ceramist, the collector and the museum's permanent collection, which now has over 12,000 items. Kawai's works are also partly contextualized through exhibits by his potter associates Shoji Hamada, Bernard Leach and Tomimoto Kenkichi.