Special Exhibition
Contemporary Japanese Crafts
Reinterpretation, Exquisite Craftsmanship, and Aesthetic Exploration

Dreams of Life Connected by Modern DesignDreams of Life Connected by Modern Design

General Information

Jul. 18 - Sep. 22, 2020
10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Admittance until 5:30 p.m.)
* Open until 8 p.m. (Admittance until 7:30 p.m.) on Jul. 24, Jul. 31, Aug. 7, Aug. 28, and Sep. 4.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019), we will close the nighttime opening on Jul.24, Jul.31, Aug.7. and Aug.28.
We will limit the number of visitors in the exhibition room as measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19(Coronavirus Disease 2019). After reaching the limit, we will issue a numbered ticket and specify the admission time. Please note that you may not be able to enter if we issue all the numbered tickets on the same day.
Jul. 22, Aug. 12, Aug. 13, Aug. 14, Aug. 19, and Sep. 9
Adults: ¥1000
Visitors aged 65 or over carrying proof of age: ¥900
Students (College): ¥700
Students (High / Middle school): ¥500
Admission is free for children in primary school and younger. Groups of 20 or more will receive a ¥100 discount per person (not including those aged 65 or over).
Admission is free for disability passbook holders and up to one accompanying adult.
Panasonic Shiodome Museum of Art, The Asahi Shimbun
Minato City Board of Education

Exhibition overview

This exhibition introduces twelve remarkable contemporary artists—all born in the 1970s onwards—who produce craft works that are rooted in Japanese aesthetics. As we enter a global era in which art and products are increasingly homogenized, Japanese crafts are valued for their unique expression. The featured artists use different materials and techniques to expand the traditional idea of “craft,” pursuing the beauty and diverse possibilities of handmade goods by reimagining the relationship between person and object. The exquisitely crafted works on display embody the three major trends in contemporary Japanese craft arts : reinterpreting traditional Japanese cultural values, pushing the limits of what can be crafted by hand, and exploring the aesthetic potential of crafting materials. They suggest new trends in contemporary Japanese crafting and offer visitors an opportunity to ponder what the future holds for these ancient arts passed down through generations.

Exhibition highlights

1. A new Japanese aesthetic that transcends the boundaries of contemporary art, design, and craft

Increased use of video and digital technology in creative fields is conversely leading to renewed interest in art shaped solely by hand. In this exhibition, visitors will discover the splendor of handicrafts created by contemporary Japanese artists.

2. Twelve creators who explore the beauty of contemporary craft

Exhibited here are works by twelve popular artists, all born in the 1970s and onwards: Daigo Adachi, Terumasa Ikeda, Takuro Kuwata, Naoki Sakai, Michiko Sago, Kengo Takahashi, Noritaka Tatehana, Akio Niisato, Chitaka Hashimoto, Riusuke Fukahori, Masayasu Mitsuke, and Akane Yamamoto.

3. About a third of the works are new, on display for the first time!

Almost all the creators have produced new pieces just for this exhibition. Visitors will be treated to these artists’ latest works, showcasing the skills they’ve polished through years of experience.

I. Reimagining traditional Japanese cultural values

Tea Bowl | 2015 | Private collection
©2020 Takuro Kuwata

Kuwata’s works are highly acclaimed in Japan and overseas for their eye-catching colors. The unusual style of this piece pushes the boundaries of Japanese dishware by adding personal twists to traditional techniques such as kairagi*1, lending the bowl a spectacular presence.

Kuwata Takuro
Kuwata was born in Hiroshima in 1981 and studied ceramic arts at the Kyoto Saga University of Arts’ junior college. Following graduation in 2001, Kuwata studied under master ceramicist Susumu Zaima. Since completing his training at the Tajimi City Pottery Design and Technical Center in 2007, Kuwata has been active in the fields of contemporary art and fashion.

Photo by Koho Kotake

Heel-less Shoes | 2014 | Private collection

These shoes, reminiscent of an oiran courtesan’s tall platform shoes, were made world-famous by Lady Gaga. Tatehana used the yuzen*2 technique to dye the leather in a traditional pattern in this excellent example of cutting-edge fashion.

Tatehana Noritaka
Born in Tokyo in 1985, Tatehana graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts in 2010 with a major in dyeing and weaving.
He has since held solo exhibitions at the Portland Japanese Garden, United States.
His works are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum (UK).

Photo by GION

Four Tubs | 2009 | Yu-Hsiu Museum of Art, Taiwan

Fukahori’s pieces make use of acrylic paint and clear resin*3. He is best known for painting three-dimensional goldfish that appear hyper-realistic, but are in fact based entirely on the artist’s imagination.

Fukahori Riusuke
Fukahori was born in Aichi in 1973. In 1995, he graduated from Aichi Prefectural University of Fine Arts and Music, where he majored in design and craft. Fukahori founded the art studio Kingyo Yougajyou in Yokohama in 2007. His 2018 solo installation, Heisei Shinchuya, toured the Hiratsuka Museum of Art in Kanagawa, the Kariya City Art Museum in Aichi, and other locations.

©Masaru YAGi

II. Pushing the limits of handicrafts

Ornamental Box with Cyber-deco | 2019 | Private collection

Ikeda uses traditional lacquer techniques such as raden*4 to depict elements of subcultures that interest him. He fuses contemporary technology—using lasers to cut seashells, for example—with his artistic skills to produce a cosmic beauty.

Ikeda Terumasa
Born in Chiba in 1987, Ikeda received a master’s degree from the Kanazawa College of Art in 2016. He then began working at the Kanazawa Utatsuyama Kogei Kobo studio. Ikeda became independent in 2019 and has since achieved acclaim as a contemporary artist.

flower funeral: cattle | 2017 | Private collection
Photography: Kenichi Hashimoto

Takahashi depicts life and death through a cattle skull studded with small flowers, each one cast*5 in aluminum from the mold of an actual flower. This exquisitely beautiful piece showcases Takahashi’s unmatched technique of layering small, thin pieces of metal.

Takahashi Kengo
Takahashi was born in Kagoshima in 1982. In 2012, he completed his master’s studies in metal casting at the Tokyo University of the Arts’ Graduate School of Fine Arts. From 2015-2018, he taught metal casting as an adjunct professor at his alma mater. His work was selected for Amazing Craftsmanship! From Meiji Kogei to Contemporary Art—an exhibition that toured art museums throughout Japan.

Photography: Kenichi Hashimoto

Untitled | 2019 | Ota Fine Arts
©Masayasu Mitsuke ; Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts

For this large plate decorated in Saga-style akae*6 enamel, a subset of Kutani-yaki*7 porcelain design, Mitsuke developed his own abstract designs rather than using the traditional detailed patterns used in akae. He applies his exceptional technique to craft extraordinary worlds.

Mitsuke Masayasu
Born in Ishikawa in 1975, Mitsuke graduated from the Kutani-yaki Training Center in 1997, then studied under Buzan Fukushima. He founded his own studio in 2007. Mitsuke has participated in many group exhibitions at museums around the world, including the Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. Mitsuke was the recipient of the Runner-up Award at the 2019 POLA Award for Traditional Japanese Culture.

Kirikane Glass Incense Box: Selflessness | 2016 | Private collection

This glass piece was made by layering kirikane*8 strips between sheets of glass and melting them together. The process both imbues the delicate designs of the kirikane with a three-dimensionality and preserves them in glass, giving them a semi-permanent quality.

Yamamoto Akane
Yamamoto was born in Ishikawa in 1977 and began training herself in the kirikane technique in 1999. The following year, she began studying under Sayoko Eri, who has been honored as an Important Intangible Cultural Property for her expertise in kirikane. In 2001, Yamamoto graduated from Kyoto City University of the Arts with a major in Japanese painting (artwork sketching and ink brush painting). She was awarded the NHK Chairman’s Award at the 2014 Japan Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition and the Runner-up Award at the 2015 POLA Award for Traditional Japanese Culture.

III. Exploring the aesthetic potential of craft materials

connect, pause, repeat (Detail) | 2020 | Artist’s collection

This piece was made using a method of tie-dye*9 called clamp dyeing, in which folded cloth is dyed while sandwiched between wooden shapes. Adachi uses blurring effects in his patterns to create contemporary textiles full of rich colors.

Adachi Daigo
Adachi was born in Aichi in 1985. He completed his master’s degree at the Kanazawa College of Art in 2012 and joined the Kanazawa Utatsuyama Kogei Kobo studio that same year. Adachi later became an instructor at the studio, and currently works as a professor of textile art at Tohoku University of Art and Design.

Iron Kettle: Inspiration of Steam | 2019 | Artist’s collection

This iron kettle is striking for its rectilinear handle, as well as its refined from, enhanced by a rusted iron-like aesthetic and stunning use of empty space. A novel demonstration of hammer-worked*10 iron, this piece has a quality that makes it a suitable decorative object in contemporary homes.

Sakai Naoki
Born in Gunma in 1973, Sakai earned a doctorate in 2003 from the Department of Metal Hammering at the Tokyo University of the Arts. He began working at the Kanazawa Utatsuyama Kogei Kobo studio in 2005, but has since become independent. Sakai has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including at the Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art.

Eternity | 2019 | Artist’s collection
Photograph courtesy of Hiraku Ikeda

Sago views the presence of growth and maturation as the distinguishing feature between the organic and the inorganic. This piece has been covered in fine lines like the gills of a mushroom, lending it a lifelike appearance. Sago utilized slipcasting*11 and a subtle touch to reinterpret nature in this masterpiece.

Sago Michiko
Born in Mie in 1984, Sago completed her master’s degree in 2011 at the Kanazawa College of Art. She has participated in a group exhibition at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, and in a 2012 Alfa Romeo project titled “I Am Giulietta. The Drive Art.” Sago earned a doctorate from the Kanazawa College of Art in 2019.

Luminescent Vessel | 2019 | Yutaka Kikutake Gallery

This is a new work by Niisato, known for his hotarude*12 porcelainware. The piece features a wider rim than those of his previous bowls, allowing it to capture more light so that its delicate patterns stand out more. Its form is so perfectly balanced that on first glance it appears to defy gravity.

Niisato Akio
Niisato was born in Chiba in 1977 and completed his studies at the Tajimi City Pottery Design and Technical Center in 2001. Since becoming independent, he has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. In 2011, Niisato received a fellowship from the Japanese government’s Overseas Study Program for Upcoming Artists for an artist residency program at Harvard University.

Circular Box with a Butterfly Flying over Flowers | 2018 | Private collection

Hashimoto used the techniques of raden*4 and hyomon*13 to craft the flowers scattered over this circular box, which features a handle of a butterfly portrayed in raden and gold lacquer. Glamorous colors combine with high-quality seashells and precise technique to provide this box with a rare beauty.

Hashimoto Chitaka
Born in Tokyo in 1972, Hashimoto graduated from the University of Tsukuba School of Art and Design in 1995. Starting in 2000, he spent two years engaged in lacquerware restoration at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. Hashimoto became an independent artist in 2006.

Contemporary Japanese Crafts: Glossary

*1 Kairagi
Kairagi refers to wrinkled glaze that produces a granulated pattern. When the foot of a bowl is carved roughly and then covered in glaze, the glaze flows down the sides of the bowl in the kiln and collects in cracks along the bowl’s surface, resulting in spots of thick glaze. This wrinkling effect is due to a significant difference in the amount of shrinkage that occurs in the clay body and the glaze during firing.
*2 Yuzen dyeing
This method of resist dyeing emerged in the Edo period (1603 – 1868) and is used to dye fabric in colorful pictures and patterns. Lines of starch are applied to white cloth to create the outline of a pattern, and the area inside is colored with dye. A thick layer of rice starch paste is then applied to the dyed areas, after which the base color dye is brushed onto the fabric. Finally the starch is washed away with water. This technique yields richly-colored and ornate picturesque patterns.
*3 Acrylic paint and clear resin
Fukahori’s creative technique involves pouring clear resin into the vessel, painting on one part of his motif using acrylic paint, and then repeating the process until the motif is complete. This layering technique results in a three-dimensional motif.
*4 Raden
In the raden decorative technique, mother-of-pearl from green turban and abalone shells is ground with a whetstone to the desired thickness, cut into patterns, glued to or inlaid in a wood or lacquered surface, and then polished. This technique emerged in China during the Tang Dynasty, and was introduced to Japan during the 8th century.
*5 Casting
Casting is a forming technique used in craft and sculpture. A material, liquified through heating or dissolving, is poured into a mold and allowed to solidify. Metal is often used as the casting material.
*6 Akae
In the akae method, a colorful overglaze is applied on a glazed and fired ceramic piece to paint an image or pattern, after which the piece is refired. The name akae, meaning “red painting,” is derived from the red base tone of the paint. The technique can also be referred to as iroe (“color painting”) or nishikide (“brocade method”), or as jiacai (“adding color”) or wucai (“five colors”) in China.
*7 Kutani-yaki
This is a general term for a ceramic tradition passed down in southern Ishikawa since the Edo period (1603 – 1868). Works are classified as Ko-Kutani (from the early Edo period), Saiko-Kutani (from a revival in the late Edo period), and modern and contemporary Kutani (any work from the Meiji Restoration onwards). Diverse techniques and styles were developed in each era and at each studio. Recent research suggests that Ko-Kutani is actually derived from Arita-yaki pottery from Saga; however, the opinions of researchers vary greatly on this topic.
*8 Kirikane
Several layers of gold or silver leaf are cut into ultrathin strips of metallic foil, which are then affixed to a surface to form elegant, sparkling patterns. Known as kirikane, this technique was primarily used to ornament Buddhist statues and paintings. It was brought to Japan during the 7th century along with Buddhism, but since the 8th century, the technique has developed into a distinctly Japanese art.
*9 Tie-dye
Tie-dye is a type of pressure resist dyeing and one method of dyeing patterns. Pressure is applied to parts of the cloth through tying and other means to prevent the dye from penetrating those areas, resulting in a pattern. It is the world’s oldest pattern-dyeing method and has been practiced around the world for centuries.
*10 Hammering
Hammer-worked art is created by using industrial tools or die molds to apply compressive force or blows to part of or all of a solid material, and then tempering the material. The hammering process eliminates air and gas pockets, resulting in a harder and stronger metal than casting, in which molten metal is poured and allowed to harden.
*11 Slipcasting
In this ceramic forming method, a liquid clay known as slip is poured into a mold. The mold is typically made of plaster, which is highly water absorbent and can remove water from the slip, allowing the material to harden. It is an ideal method for creating thin pieces, angular shapes, and intricate sculptures.
*12 Hotarude
Hotarude porcelain features a translucent pattern. The porcelain clay is first decorated with an openwork pattern, after which a highly viscous translucent glaze is applied over the piece. The piece is then fired, hardening the translucent glaze inside the pattern’s holes. As the pattern is only revealed in the presence of light, the technique has come to be known as hotarude (“firefly method”) or hotaruyaki (“firefly ware”). This technique originated in China.
*13 Hyomon
Hyomon is a method for decorating lacquerware, in which thin sheets of gold, silver, tin, or other metals are cut into a pattern and adhered to the surface of the piece, then hidden beneath a layer of lacquer. Finally, the lacquer is stripped or polished away until the pattern is revealed. Another method involves applying the lacquer in such a way as to avoid covering the metal entirely.