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My recent topics and interests, Episode 7

(by S. Miyauchi, Professional Engineer, Doctor of Engineering, JSME Fellow)

<Interest of potteries and porcelains>

Handmade Shigaraki style potteries closely tied to the daily lives of people have not only familiar ease and comfort but also various beauties. "The warmth of soil, hands and fire of Six Old Kilns of Japan" (including Shigaraki) and "the supreme beauty of Song Celadon" are two vertices of potteries and porcelains but they are opposite to each other.

① The Japanese idea for pottery and porcelain "Doing nothing" is doing.

・Many warriors and feudal lords of Azuchi-Momoyama era who survived longly lasting wars with their wisdoms and powers loved tea ceremony seeking for their peace of mind. (

・The spirit of tea ceremony "Wabi-sabi"(侘び寂び) can be said plain and quiet SECLUSION LIFE with nature. There is nothing to lose. In Japan and China, seclusion to the country was regarded as one ideal of those who succeeded in society (there is a similar idea in England).

・As tools of tea ceremony, Shigaraki pottery continue to be loved by tea masters of Urasenke (茶陶信楽).

・"Kesiki" (景色, scenery, texture, flavor) that the earth, fire and glaze themselves draws out evokes a imagined scenery like "sansuiga"(山水画) to the viewer. Such as steep mountains and rocks and infinite shape of air and water flow, etc.

"Sansuiga" is the art of drawing air and water. I heard that Leonardo da Vinci said that "It is not a sculpture but a picture that can draw air" because of sour grapes to Michelangelo. And surely, in the background of Mona Lisa, there is a taste similar to "sansuiga".

・Sansuiga whuch draws nature and its four seasons, as well as some people with nature and their secluded living is a major trend of Japanese art. This microcosm is also affecting numerous wonderful gardens of temples in Kyoto.

・Japanese culture tends to hate artificialities and bothersome of excessive technique.

③ The beauty of use

Tools should be useful for people and their lives. Thus they also have functional beauty.

④ Divinity of vessels

・During the Younger Dryas Cold Event(12,800 to 15,500 years ago), people around Japan Sea made the earthenware for the first time in the world. Using them, they stored and boiled the gifts of the forests and rivers (acorns and salmon) so as to settle and endure the extreme cold winter in Eastern Eurasia.

・The patterns of Jomon pottery (See the photo below) are very emotional, and attachment to Japanese vessels is still primordial.

・Japanese belief as "A god also dwells in the tool" seems to have existed since thanks for the world's first earthenware and the grace of God and nature stored in those. Not only masters of traditional crafts but also engineers still have a feeling similar to this. Anyway, according to Japan's polytheism, numerous Gods dwell in all things in nature (森羅万象).

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