Miraku Kamei, the 15th Takatori Miraku Kiln Potter

The Takatori ware Mikura kiln, from which the name of the Takatori region was derived, is located in a corner of a residential neighbourhood about 10 minutes by subway from central Fukuoka City. The history of Takatori ware dates back 400 years, and its roots lie as far back as Hideyoshi's dispatch of an expeditionary force to Korea. It began when Kuroda Nagamasa, the feudal lord of the Fukuoka clan, brought Korean potters back with him and opened a kiln in Noogata city in Fukuoka at the time of this expedition. It was well known as one of the seven Enshu kilns guided by Kobori Enshu, a daimyo lord and master of the tea ceremony during the early Edo period, and many tea ceremony utensils were fired here. While under the protection of the Kuroda clan as the official kiln for the use of their lord, it was moved to the present Takatori location in 1717. This corresponds to exactly 300 years in 2017.

Mr. Miraku Kamei succeeded to the Miraku XV name in 2001 when he was 40, and has won many awards leading up to the present day. He is a full member of the Japan Kogei Assocation and has also been commended as a Fukuoka Outstanding Technician (this is known as the Fukuoka version of the Contemporary Master Craftsman award.) His works are exhibited as museum collections in the U.S.A. at the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and in China at the Jingdezhen Ceramics Museum. He is also active overseas, with his activities including holding a one man show in Boston, U.S.A, and contributing his works to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Locally, meanwhile, he instructs students as teacher of ceramics at Fukusho High School. In addition, he produced a Takatori ware porcelain tile enscribed with the college song for the Seinan Gakuin Centennial Hall, built on the campus as part of activities marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of Seinan Gakuin University. Ash from pine needles taken from the campus was added to the glaze and the tile is rendered in the school color of green.

Miraku says there is something he has felt strongly through his activities both overseas and in Japan. "I always have this feeling I should make something new. But I am always reminded that one of my predecessors already did that. And the fact is, more people are interested in traditional Japanese pottery than something unconventional. I want to challenge myself with new things while maintaining the long standing traditions of Takatori ware." He says that materials such as clay and glaze are important, and that they are directly related to the kiln's characteristics. The clay has always been brought in from Samukai in Dazaifu city since the Edo period, and the three types of clay—red, white, and ordinary clay—are each used for different purposes depending on the work. Both electric and kickwheel potter's wheels are also used for different purposes. The greatest characteristic of Takatori ware can be said to be the seven colors of glaze. These are white, yellow, and black glazes, rokusho glaze, a greenish-brown Takamiya glaze, douge glaze (a glaze that finishes to a mottled ochre), and a transparent furashi glaze. The profound style of applying multiple glazes in different areas can also be said to be distinctive to Takatori ware.

Miraku says there are times when he gets stuck with his creative activities. "I always carry motifs with me for when I get stuck. I reset and do one of my hobbies such as fishing or going for a drive and admire the trees in the woods or the clouds. I once got a hint for a creation from the ripples of a pond skater. I get a lot of things from the natural world." "I want to revive Japan's disappearing culture and traditions as well as their status." He periodically holds classes in Japanese cultural activities such as the incense ceremony, flower arrangement, and the tea ceremony the at the Miraku kiln, in addition to ceramics classes. "I want to do some kind of repayment of favors by inviting young people from Korea, the roots of Takatori ware, for cultural exchange. There is an art gallery at the Miraku kiln. I would like many people to come and visit." His eldest son, Hisaaki, returned to the kiln to begin his career as a potter in April this year. The traditions will be once more handed down from father to son.