Touching Stone Gallery logo

Touching Stone Gallery   539 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM 87505  USA   Tel: 505-988-8072   Email:


Hiroyuki Wakimoto

A New Direction in Bizen Ceramics
May 5 - 31, 2006
Hiroyuki Wakimoto firing pottery

See more of this artist's work:

2002 show
, 2003 show, 2004 show, 2005 show, 2006 show, 2007 show, 2009 show, 2010 show, 2012 show,  2016 show

Hiroyuki Wakimoto  脇本博之

For centuries, wood-fired pottery from the "six ancient kilns" in Japan (Tanba, Bizen, Echizen, Shigaraki, Tokoname, and Seto) helped cultivate a quiet aesthetic sensibility and an appreciation for simple unadorned beauty. The pottery center of Bizen produced many exceptional ceramists including five Living National Treasures, more than any other historic pottery areas. This luminous heritage offers great inspirations for contemporary ceramists, but at the same time leaves an enormous legacy for them to live up to. Traditionally, Bizen pottery is made for use. Blessed with a gorgeous local clay that turns brilliant red after firing, historically Bizen ceramists emphasized firing effects on functional but rather conservative forms. It is a challenge for contemporary Bizen artists to innovate without risking disconnection from tradition. Hiroyuki Wakimoto is a notable exception who successfully integrates creativity with the Bizen tradition.

Born in 1952 in Tsushima, Nagasaki Prefecture in Kyushu, Hiroyuki Wakimoto received art training in textile design in Osaka Art College. In his senior year, he decided textile design was not his interest and left the college. While visiting a friend who was doing an apprenticeship in Bizen, Wakimoto found his true calling in Bizen-yaki. He began an apprenticeship under George Yamashita, an accomplished ceramist who had studied under Living National Treasure Jun Isezaki. Nine years later, Wakimoto established his own kiln and gradually built a reputation as one of the most distinctive artists in Bizen.

With a great interest in forms and training in design, Wakimoto creates some of the most interesting works in contemporary Japanese ceramics. His works are instantly recognized by bold, sophisticated forms with clean lines and beautiful fire markings. What sets Wakimoto apart from many of his peers is his ability to create astoundingly innovative work without abandoning the cultural connection of this art form.

For example, one of Wakimoto’s original forms is a three-legged sake bottle, which traces its conceptual origin to ancient Chinese wine-servers (ref. 1). The design is a seamless fusion of the old and new. In another example, incense burners take the forms of stylized figurines that may well be inspired by ancient Japanese Haniwa pottery; yet these forms may also evoke Isamu Noguchi’s whimsical ceramic sculpture. Even his abstract works are not without a cultural basis. The "Stone" series (see #13, #17 in current show), for example, apparently receive their cues from ancient walls in Japan. Those pieces are sculpted from chunks of clay rather than thrown on a wheel. The technique, called kurinuki, offers great freedom for creating unique shapes. Many of these are composite works composed of multiple components. To produce contrasting colors, Wakimoto fires the separate components in different parts of the kiln. Wakimoto recalled the evolution of his style, "In the beginning, I cared too much about making my work unique, my hands struggled with the clay. Then one day, I set my hands free to express my feelings without thinking too hard. From that day, my work became spontaneous."

The Achilles heel of many innovative wood-fire ceramists is in their firing techniques. In this respect, Wakimoto’s mastery of the firing process is legendary. He does a 14-days firing once a year in a three-chambered noborigama (climbing kiln) that holds up to a thousand pieces, representing his entire year’s work. This working style requires extraordinary confidence and impeccable technical expertise. He keeps detailed records of every firing, including data on temperature and the exact position of every piece in the kiln. This meticulous approach and technical excellence allow Wakimoto to carry his artistic visions to fruition.

Wakimoto has won many prestigious awards in his career, including the Grand Prize of Yakishime Exhibition. In 2002, his work was first exhibited in America in Touching Stone Gallery. The show was enthusiastically received. Two years later, he was invited by the New Mexico Museum of International Folk Art to show at the International Folk Art Market. During that visit, Wakimoto toured several ancient Anasazi Indian ruins in the area. That visit further broadened his interest in other ancient cultures. The ensuing years saw interesting new works that might have been inspired by Anasazi Indian architecture. Wakimoto’s untiring quest for new ideas is possibly the most significant attribute of a creative artist. Indeed, this quality may ultimately distinguish art itself from craft.

Ref. 1:  Omen. Ceramics: Art & Perception, no. 48, pp. 97 - 99. 2002.

Click on images to view selected pieces
To order call 505-988-8072, see

Wakimoto_06_1c.jpg (115178 bytes)Wakimoto_06_1b.jpg (123535 bytes)Wakimoto_06_1a.jpg (118024 bytes)
Vase Form No. 1
wood-fired ceramic   18"h x 14.5" x 8" (3 views)

Wakimoto_06_2a.jpg (115782 bytes)Wakimoto_06_2b.jpg (102044 bytes)Wakimoto_06_2d.jpg (105156 bytes)
Vase Form No. 2  
wood-fired ceramic   17"h x 10" x 7" (3 views)

Wakimoto_06_3b.jpg (81923 bytes)Wakimoto_06_3a.jpg (91355 bytes)
Vase Form No. 3
wood-fired ceramic   7.5"h x 10" x 7.5" (2 views)

Wakimoto_06_4a.jpg (91284 bytes)Wakimoto_06_4b.jpg (80230 bytes)
Vase Form No. 4
 wood-fired ceramic   6"h x 6.5" x 5" (2 views)

Wakimoto_06_5b.jpg (119541 bytes)Wakimoto_06_5a.jpg (116964 bytes)
Vase Form No. 5
 wood-fired ceramic   4.5"h x 7.5" x 7" (2 views) 

Wakimoto_06_6a.jpg (68143 bytes)Wakimoto_06_6b.jpg (54983 bytes)
Vase Form No. 6
wood-fired ceramic   5"h x 7.5" x 7" (2 views)

Wakimoto_06_7a.jpg (88220 bytes)Wakimoto_06_7c.jpg (81951 bytes)
Vase Form No. 7
wood-fired ceramic   10"h x 7" x 6.5" (2 views)

Wakimoto_06_8a.jpg (77531 bytes)Wakimoto_06_8c.jpg (86942 bytes)

Vase Form No. 8  
wood-fired ceramic   9.5"h x 5.5" x 4" (2 views)

Wakimoto_06_9a.jpg (96867 bytes)Wakimoto_06_9b.jpg (98341 bytes)
Vase Form No. 9
wood-fired ceramic   4.5"h x 8.5" x 3" (2 views)
Wakimoto_06_10a.jpg (114814 bytes)Wakimoto_06_10b.jpg (126801 bytes)
Vase Form No. 10
wood-fired ceramic   8"h x 7" x 3.5" (2 views)

Wakimoto_06_11a.jpg (115969 bytes)Wakimoto_06_11b.jpg (108502 bytes)
Vase Form No. 11
wood-fired ceramic   5.5"h x 9" x 4.5" (2 views)
Wakimoto_06_12a.jpg (44938 bytes)Wakimoto_06_12b.jpg (43907 bytes)
Vase Form No. 12
wood-fired ceramic   8.5"h x 3.75" x 3.75" (2 views)

Wakimoto_06_13a.jpg (49595 bytes)Wakimoto_06_13b.jpg (48648 bytes)
"Stone" Vase No. 13
wood-fired ceramic   4.5"h x 4.5" x 4" (2 views)

Wakimoto_06_16b.jpg (45374 bytes)Wakimoto_06_16a.jpg (52590 bytes)
Incense Burner No. 16  
wood-fired ceramic   4.75"h x 3.75" x 3.5" (2 views)

Wakimoto_06_14b.jpg (79466 bytes)Wakimoto_06_14a.jpg (77402 bytes)
Incense Burner No. 14
wood-fired ceramic   6.5"h x 5" x 4" (2 views)

Wakimoto_06_15b.jpg (79719 bytes)Wakimoto_06_15a.jpg (74528 bytes)
Incense Burner No. 15  
wood-fired ceramic   6.5"h x 5" x 4" (2 views)

Wakimoto_06_17a.jpg (82457 bytes)Wakimoto_06_17b.jpg (90812 bytes)
"Stone" Vase No. 17  
wood-fired ceramic   3.5"h x 6" x 4.5" (2 views)

Guinomi_06_18d.jpg (58163 bytes)
Guinomi No. 18 
wood-fired ceramic  2.5"h x 2.5" x 2.25"  (w/ box)

Guinomi_06_19d.jpg (68376 bytes)
Guinomi No. 19 
wood-fired ceramic  2.25"h x 2.5" x 2.5"  (w/ box)

Guinomi_06_20d.jpg (59746 bytes)
Guinomi No. 20 
wood-fired ceramic  2.25"h x 2.5" x 2.5"  (w/ box)

Guinomi_06_21d.jpg (68345 bytes)
Guinomi No. 21 
 wood-fired ceramic  2"h x 3.25" x 3.25"  (w/ box)

Exhibitions & Awards

1952     Born in Tsushima, Nagasaki Prefecture, Kyushu
1975     Osaka Art College
1981     Apprenticeship under Bizen ceramist Joji Yamashita
1990     Established own kiln in Bizen
            Honorable Mention, 52nd Itt-sui Kai Ten
1991     8th Cha-no-yu no Zo-kei Ten, Tanabe Museum
            2nd Biennial Ceramic Exhibition
            38th Japan Traditional Arts & Crafts Exhibition
            1st Yaki-shime Ten
            Honorable Mention, 53rd Itt-sui Kai Ten
1992     9th Cha-no-yu no Zo-kei Ten, Tanabe Museum
            30th Asahi Ceramics Exhibition
            39th Japan Traditional Arts & Crafts Exhibition
            54th Itt-sui Kai Ten
1993     Honorable Mention, 3rd Biennial Ceramic Exhibition
            31st Asahi Ceramics Exhibition
            36th Japan Traditional Arts & Crafts Exhibition, China Branch
            Asahi Contemporary Arts & Crafts Invitational Exhibition
1994     11th Cha-no-yu no Zo-kei Ten, Tanabe Museum
            Grand Prize, 2nd Yaki Shime Juried Show
            Chairman’s Award, Japan Arts & Crafts Exhibition, Chu-goku Chapter
1995     12th Cha-no-yu no Zo-kei Ten, Tanabe Museum
            13th Japan Ceramics Exhibition
            42th Japan Traditional Arts & Crafts Exhibition
1996     13th Cha-no-yu no Zo-kei Ten, Tanabe Museum
            34th Asahi Ceramics Exhibition
1997     14th Cha-no-yu no Zo-kei Ten, Tanabe Museum
            35th Asahi Ceramics Exhibition
            44th Japan Traditional Arts & Crafts Exhibition
            Nominated as a permanent member of Japan Arts & Crafts Association
1998     15th Cha-no-yu no Zo-kei Ten, Tanabe Museum
1999     37th Asahi Ceramics Exhibition
2000     3 - 4 shows every year in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kobe
2002     Touching Stone Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
2003     Kuroda Toen Gallery, Tokyo
            Tenmaya, Takamatsu
            Touching Stone Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
2004     Kuroda Toen Gallery, Tokyo
            Tenmaya, Fukuoka
            Touching Stone Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
            Invited artist, Santa Fe International Folk Art Market 2004
2005     Kuroda Toen Gallery, Tokyo
           Touching Stone Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico
2006    Touching Stone Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico


2002    Omen - An article on Hiroyuki Wakimoto's work, by Tim Wong & Akko Hirano. In: Ceramics: Art & Perception, no. 48, pp. 97 - 99.