・Born in 1962 in Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture.
・Since around 1974, started searching for clay at ancient kiln sites in the Karatsu region.
・In 1980, began creating Karatsu-yaki pottery while assisting in the "SOUGEN kiln" initiated by the father.
・In 1998, started exhibitions at famous department stores nationwide (holding exhibitions mainly at Mitsukoshi, Takashimaya, etc.).



Ceramist Naoki Kojima

We spoke to Mr. Kojima, who has been making pottery for 42 years in Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture, and how he approaches his work.

- Mr. Kojima, please tell us about your thoughts on manufacturing.

“Karatsu ware” has been synonymous with Karatsu since I was a child. The category of "Karatsu ware" was created by people who came over from Korea about 400 years ago. For the past 10 years or so, I have been approaching pottery making with the same feeling as the person who created the Karatsu ware category from nothing, and I want to create something new that is synonymous with modern Karatsu ware. Masu.
Once I was able to master classical techniques to a certain extent, I began to think that there might be something new that would be suitable for today's times. Although it is new, I would like to create something that can be clearly identified as Karatsu ware.

I believe that the same goes for our ancestors in the region, and that all good tea bowls that have been passed down from generation to generation are unique. I also want to create something that shows that individuality.
With the pride of being a craftsman, I want to do things that no one else has done, things that only I can do.

- Please tell us about the traditional climbing kiln and how to deal with its flames.

Ten years ago, there was a time for three years in a row that I couldn't make a single bowl that I was satisfied with. I baked 200 bowls and got zero.
To achieve the loquat color of the Ido bowl, I experimented with a climbing kiln and fired it about 30 times in three years. I thought about quitting (lol). However, the data from that failure is connected to today.
Research is important, but so is intuition. If you rely on calculations, your sixth sense will become dull. The senses are sound and nails. We aim to be able to do things intuitively, without being limited to data.

*Photo: He showed us valuable data over many years, such as temperature control of clay and climbing kilns.

- What kind of works have you been creating lately?
There are many figurative items such as masks and dolls. When made with Karatsu ware, it looks really impressive.

We receive many orders from Japanese restaurants such as Kappo cuisine and Kaiseki cuisine, and recently we have made vessels in the shape of boats. If you use this bowl, you can put sashimi on it. If you keep the container in the refrigerator, it will stay fresh for a certain amount of time. It is a device that also has a functional aspect.

- Please tell us about the appeal of Karatsu, where your workshop is located.

If I was going to build a kiln, I wanted to head to the city, so I chose Hamadama-cho in Karatsu, which is closer to Fukuoka. Above all, I was fascinated by the soil of Yamase in Karatsu. This is a place at the foot of Yamase that I have been visiting since I was around 15 or 16 years old. We decided on this land because it was rare and had good quality Yamase soil.

I've been hiking in the mountains since I was in the fifth grade, so I can tell where the soil is when I look at it. Soil is interesting because it changes a lot depending on how you sift it. There is no need to sift the clay, and by sifting it and returning it, you can adjust your eyes, and by using these methods, I create works that make use of the 40 different types of soil.
In the past, there were about 5 to 6 kilns in one area. The fact that there were many kilns means that there was good quality soil and water. This place is next to a beautiful stream, and you can even see fireflies.

-Japanese crafts are attracting attention both domestically and internationally as an eco-friendly form of "ethical consumption," but are there any concrete initiatives being taken?

Basically, there is no industrial waste (other than household waste) that goes outside. Everything can be returned to the earth. The glaze is basically made from natural materials such as straw ash, and no chemicals are used. They are all things that are harmless to eat. Even without chemicals or other compounds, as long as there is nature, pottery can be baked.

- Please let us know if there are any works you would like to create in the future.

One of my works is a demon doll, and I would like to make it in the colors of Karatsu ware so that it looks like it moves in three dimensions. I don't want to end up just being a tableware shop, and even now that I'm able to hold solo exhibitions, I want to become a more artistic entertainer. For example, I would like to create new works using techniques that no one else has used, such as wall-painting ceramic panels that make use of Karatsu ware clay, and abstract works.

History and present of Karatsu ware


There are various theories about the origin of Karatsu ware, but it is said that it began in the Azuchi-Momoyama period in a place called Kishidake in Karatsu, Saga Prefecture, by potters who came to the area during the Bunroku and Keicho eras under Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Techniques imported from Korea, such as the climbing kiln, kirokuro, and glaze methods, enriched the styles and types, and as it was distributed all over Japan, Karatsu ware became one of Japan's most representative pottery. Furthermore, in the world of tea, tea bowls have been classified as ``Ichido, Niraku, and San Karatsu'' since ancient times, and have been loved by many tea masters, and developed as the official kiln of the Karatsu clan during the Edo period.

There is a saying in Karatsu ware that says, ``The creator is 80%, the user is 20%.'' It means that the product is truly completed not only when it is made, but when it is used. The idea is that pottery can only reveal its beauty when it becomes a part of our daily lives. Karatsu ware is simple yet strong and warm, and the simplicity of the vessels is connected to Wabi-Sabi, Japan's unique aesthetic sense, making them easy to match with your own tableware and making food and drinks stand out. Please feel free to pick up and take a look at these ``useful beauty'' vessels whose quality only becomes apparent when you use them in your daily life.



professional equipment

custom made

Introduction of restaurants used by customers

High class Japanese cuisine restaurant Tarikino Kappo

5th floor, Takaya Ginza Building, 7-2-8 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

High class Japanese cuisine restaurant Kappo Shisei

1-2-12 Nishiazabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Duo Scala Nishiazabu Tower Central EAST B1

High class tofu restaurant Tokyo Shiba Tofuya Ukai

4-4-13 Shiba Koen, Minato-ku, Tokyo

High-quality meat kappo restaurant Ginza kappou ukai Nikutaku

8-9-15 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Jewel Box Ginza B1

High class kaiseki restaurant Japanese cuisine Shunbo

6-10-3 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Grand Hyatt Tokyo 6th floor

Kappo/small restaurant Kappo Imai Shinjuku Gyoemmae

1-6-5 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Shigaraki Building 1F

Kappo/Small Restaurant Japanese Cuisine Midoriokazaki

1-16-20 Higashi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka

Shinsaibashi Stage Building 2F

High class Japanese restaurant Jike Hirasawa

602 Jikecho, Aoba Ward, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture

Soba shop Izu Shimoda Soba Ishizuka

4-21 Shikine, Shimoda City, Shizuoka Prefecture

River fish and pickled grass restaurant Amegen

1058-2 Gotanda, Hamadamacho, Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture