Shiro Tsujimura: An Art of Living

A Shigaraki-style vase by Tsujimura sits on a refectory table.  Photo © Laziz Hamani.


In the forested hills above Nara, Japan, sits a rustic residence where pottery inhabits nature, inside and out. It is the home of vanguard ceramicist Shiro Tsujimura, who is the subject of an exquisite new monograph, An Art of Living (Flammarion), debuting this week. A photographic and textual paean to the master artisan, it immerses the reader in his poetic world.



Shiro Tsujimura. Photos © Laziz Hamani. 


At Lan Jaenicke, we hold the art form of ceramics in reverence, and have had the privilege of collaborating with San Francisco ceramicist Len Carella on both our ShanFeng Incense Vessel, and, most recently, bespoke porcelain buttons. As designer and antiquarian Axel Vervoordt writes of Tsujimura's work, “It is simultaneously contemporary yet entirely timeless.” That is an aesthetic vision we share—creating beautifully crafted pieces that feel modern, yet will endure.  



ShanFeng ceramic incense vessell and white lambswool Calla dress

The ShanFeng Incense Vessel by Len Carella for Lan Jaenicke. Photo © Jason Sutherland Hsu. The Calla lambswool dress.  


At his home studio, where there are seven kilns on site, Tsujimura sculpts objects, tableware, and vessels ranging from from Mizusashi, cold water containers, to Tsubo, large rounded jars. As author and scholar Alexandra Munroe notes, "Some forms he throws, others he builds from slab... He has mastered the techniques of of all the great kiln traditions—Shigaraki, Hagi, Iga, Shino, Korean Buncheong slipware and hkidashi, Oribe, Black and red Raku—but is best known for ceramics with his own distinctive greenish ash glaze and coarse stoneware bodies."


An Ido teabowl crafted by Tsujimura in the 1970s and repaired using kintsugi technique.  Photo © Shouya Grigg. 


Raised in Nara, Tsujimura first sought to be a painter and traveled to Tokyo to pursue art school. After exploring that realm, he instead chose to begin monastic training at Sanshoji, a small Zen temple outside of Nara. It was in 1970 that he had an epiphany upon viewing a 16th-century Oido teabowl a the Japan Folk Craft Museum, and set out to pursue the ceramic form. “Only Tsjujimura can express such tremendous strength with as much silence and discretion,” writes Vervoordt. 


The artist painting abstract works in black ink on paper using a handmade brush. Photo © Shouya Grigg.  An untitled abstract, ink on paper (2022) by Tsujimura. Photo © Sayaka Hayashi for KamiYa Co Ltd. The hands of the artist. Photo © Shouya Grigg.


“It is simultaneously contemporary yet entirely timeless.” 

Tsujimura also practices the art of calligraphy, one that is also close to our hearts at Lan Jaenicke. As he says, "Pottery, painting and calligraphy, it's all about my life." No matter what the form, we find inspiration and likemindedness in his expressions of natural simplicity and sculptural elegance. 


© Shiro Tsujimura by Axel Vervoordt, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Alexandra
Munroe, Shiro Tsujimura, Flammarion, 2024.