Biography

Kawai Kanjiro was a Kyoto-based potter working within the folk tradition of Japanese and Korean ceramics. He was a long-time friend of Hamada Shoji, Yanagi Soetsu, and Bernard Leach with whom he co-founded the Japan Folk Art Association in 1926. Although in Japan Kawai Kanjiro is just as celebrated as Hamada Shoji and Kitaoji Rosanjin, he is relatively neglected in the West. Unlike his rivals, Kawai refused all official honors, such as the designation of “Living National Treasure,” and did not travel to the West. By the mid-1930s, Kawai developed a slab-molding technique to create beveled bowls and tiered boxes. The forms of his later pieces became multifaceted and more sculptural. As a master of the glaze technique, Kawai developed new decorative styles in the 1960s, employing splotches of bright colors. His slab-molded boxes with lids, as well as vases, are especially admired. Kawai often decorated his works with bold, semiabstract blossom motifs, which he painted freely in under-glaze cobalt blue, iron brown, and copper red.