Yamamoto Tōshū (1906-1994)

(Living National Treasure)

Bizen Tea Caddy

Inv. Nr. #19.001
Date Shōwa period, mid 20th C.
Material Ash glazed stoneware
Dimensions H 9,1  x Diam. 7,4 cm

Comes with fitted signed and sealed wooden box and silk pouch.

Price on request

This premium Bizen tea caddy is truly a one-of-a-kind piece. Thrown on the potter's wheel with crisp contours, the tea caddy is then given a unique ash glaze. Between a rough brown texture, two parts of the vessel's exterior give a free view of the bare clay. Here, these two reserves are framed by a dark line of ash glaze, which in turn is framed by an orange band that reflects the light with an extraordinary metallic sheen. This effect can also be seen on the inside of the vessel. Also covered with a thin, glossy ash glaze, it responds to every ray of light with a mysterious glow.

Tōshū began working with clay at the age of 15, and only 12 years later, in 1933, he became independent. It is interesting to note that he later decided to study further, but not with a Bizen master, but with Kusube Yaichi (1897-1984), who may have stimulated his progressive view of traditional Bizen ceramics. Kusube also helped him master the potter's wheel, which is why Tōshū is said to have made the finest wheel-thrown objects in Bizen.

In 1959, Tōshū made his world debut at the Brussels World's Fair, where he was awarded the gold prize. In the same year, he was named an Important Cultural Property of Okayama. He has been selected as a member of the Japan Traditional Arts Crafts Exhibition every year since 1955. In addition, he has received many awards, such as the Okayama Prefectural Cultural Award in 1972, the Sanyo Shimbun Cultural Award and the Miki Memorial Award in 1975, the Bizen City Achievement Award and the Purple Ribbon Medal in 1976, the Mainichi Art Award in 1977, the Dark-blue Ribbon Medal in 1981, the Order of the Sacred Treasure (4th class) in 1982, and many others.

This long list of honors and his mastery of the Bizen style with many distinctive, sometimes unusual works led to his appointment as a Living National Treasure (Important Intangible Cultural Property) in 1987, third in line after Kaneshige Tōyō and Fujiwara Kei.


Signed underneath with his potter mark. Comes with fitted wooden box that is inscribed: Bizen katashiki chaire 備前肩衝茶入 ('Tea Caddy with Distinct Shoulders'), and signed: Tōshū-zō 陶秀造 ('Made by Tōshū').