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The Bear of Echizen

A "world of fire, a world all dark, totally red ..."

Kumano at shrine

Welcome to the home page of Kumano Kurouemon, a unique wood-fire art potter who toils in isolation in the snow country on the "back side" of Japan.

Kumano shaping a large vaseThis site is maintained by admirers of Kumano who believe his powerful works in clay stand out like volcanoes on the rim of the Japanese pottery tradition — distinctive, beautiful, challenging — and should be experienced by as many lovers of ceramics as possible worldwide.

Kumano's production is small and his pieces until fairly recently were rarely seen outside of Japan (see Writings links). However, a large solo exhibition was hosted by Germany's Keramikmuseum Westerwald in 2004–05, followed by a month-long workshop at Fachhochschule Koblenz in 2006, so at least some Europeans are getting to know the man and his work a little better.

Similarly, in the United States, a few years ago Kumano led a highly acclaimed workshop in Piedmont College (Athens, Georgia). He returned September 16–19, 2016, and held a workshop at Bridgwater State University (Bridgewater, Massachusetts), from September 21–23, 2016.

New Sale Pieces for Summer 2020

After a pause of close to three years, necessitated in part by problems Kumano had finding both the right type of wood and a suitable assistant, the Bear of Echizen this summer was finally able to accomplish a successful firing of his very demanding anagama.

It is fair to wonder, wood and assistance problems aside, how many uniquely taxing firings Kumano still has in him. My personal advice to everyone who loves his work is not to "wait until next time" to acquire a representative piece. Kumano’s sui generis status remains: Nobody before has fashioned pots like his, and it is unlikely anybody ever will again.

Seventeen pieces from that firing comprise the new selection, the first update of the Kumano website since June 2018 Of special note are the Tabimakuro (Travel-pillow) and Ohaguro (Teeth-blackening paste container) shaped vases, two of the most remarkable pieces to have ever emerged from Kumano's kiln, while other attention-worthy pieces include the Hikidashi Tea Bowl, the Nogami clay Small Plate, and the array of Sake Cups and Echizen “haikaburi” Plates. A large range of prices is represented.

Note: Due to the drastically increased cost of shipping from Japan to the United States in these COVID times (Japan Post's EMS service suspended, FedEx offering only Priority rates to US), $125 must be added to the price of any item under $2000. Please be understanding. Needless to day, the moment EMS or FedEx resume normal service to the U.S., the surcharge will be dropped.

Go to update September 2020

We look forward to hearing from you.

Peter Ujlaki

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Peter Ujlaki with Kumano Kurouemon in July 2020

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
The Bear sketches one of his famous road maps as Kyoko (his wife)
and Kayoko (Peter's partner) look on (2018)

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Inside Kumano's kiln after 2017 firing

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Kumano Kurouemon with grandchildren 2017

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Kumano Kurouemon, Peter Ujlaki, and Kumano Kyoko 2014


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