When speaking about Japanese pottery, Rokubei is possibly one of the most famous names within the Kyōto ceramic sphere. With over 240 years of history and currently working in its eight generation, the family were most influential in the development and survival of Kyō ware. One of the secrets of their success possibly lies in the continuous active involvement in Kyōto’s art circles. All Rokubei potters were friendly with some of the most important artists of their time. Kiyomizu Rokubei V, born 1875, studied painting under Shijō master Konō Bairei (1844-1895) and later together with Takeuchi Seihō (1864-1942). As a potter, he apprenticed with his father, Rokubei IV (1848-1920), who is famous for his subtle collaboration works with Tomioka Tessai (1837-1924) and Kamisaka Sekka (1866-1942), as seen, for instance, in a bowl from 1910 with orchid and mushrooms by Rokubei IV and Tessai in the National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian (F2020.4.1a-g). Rokubei V successfully continued these collaborations and moved on to the following generation. The bowl presented here was painted and inscribed by Tessai's talented student, Yamada Kaidō.
Kaidō, born in 1870 as Tomosaburō in Fukui prefecture, has been an influential figure in his own right. He was involved in the establishment of the Japan Literati Painting Institute (Nihon Nanga-in) together with Tajika Chikuson (1864-1922) and Ikeda Keisen (1863-1931) and known as one of the three famous painters from Fukui, called the “Three Dōs” (Fukui Sandō).
This bowl, used for serving sweets within the seventeenth-century Chinese-inspired tradition of brewing steeped tea, was named Furō chōshun, which can be literally translated as “Never aging, eternal spring.” The name refers to the two plants that are shown on the bowl: the pine tree, a symbol for longevity, and a white rose, known in Japan for its endless flowering throughout the year and which is therefor a symbol for devotion and long-lasting beauty. In Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, this unique combination of pine and white roses is used for New Year ceremonies and for welcoming the early spring.
In his inscription, Kaidō also describes a late afternoon on such a clear spring day when he painted the bowl in his studio under pine trees: “On a spring day in 1919, in my hut, protected by pines under dyed clouds.”