Raku Kichizaemon on the Avant-Garde Tradition of Raku Ware (Video)


Raku Kichizaemon, the fifteenth grand master of the Raku line of potters, creates avant-garde works of ceramic art rooted in 450 years of tradition. With a tea bowl of his own making in hand, he discusses the philosophical underpinnings of Raku ware.

Raku Kichizaemon is the fifteenth generation in a line of potters that began in the sixteenth century with Chōjirō, who created pitch-black tea bowls in the wabi-cha aesthetic at the bidding of the tea master Sen no Rikyū (1522–91). For some 450 years, the Raku family of Kyoto has exclusively transmitted from father to son its art of making bowls for the tea ceremony. Kichizaemon, the current head, brought along one of his own creations to the Nippon.com studio to talk about Raku ware.

The interview addresses some basic questions: Who invented Raku ware, and in what historical context? What is the philosophy behind Raku tea bowls? Why does Raku ware specialize in two basic colors, red and black? How does making a Raku bowl differ from other arts, such as painting?

In the video, Kichizaemon delves into the aesthetics of Raku tea bowls, which combine centuries of tradition with an avant-garde spirit. Along the way, he also touches on the sense of nature and spirituality evident in Chōjirō’s works.

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(Originally published in Japanese on May 18, 2017. Video shot and edited by Otome Kaita, with additional video by Hanabusa Ryō. Interview and text by Kawakatsu Miki. Banner photo by Kawamoto Seiya.)

tradition tea ceremony arts and crafts Raku