The Bear of Echizen
A "world of fire, a world all dark, totally red ..."
Welcome to the home page of Kumano Kurôemon (熊野九郎右ヱ門), a unique wood-fire art potter who toils in isolation in the snow country on the "back side" of Japan.
This site is maintained by admirers of Kumano who believe his powerful works in clay stand out like volcanoes on the rim of the Japanese pottery tradition — distinctive, beautiful, challenging — and should be experienced by as many lovers of ceramics as possible worldwide.
Kumano's production is small and his pieces until fairly recently were rarely seen outside of Japan (see Writings links). However, a large solo exhibition was hosted by Germany's Keramikmuseum Westerwald in 2004-05, followed by a month-long workshop at Fachhochschule Koblenz in 2006, so at least some Europeans are getting to know the man and his work a little better.
Similarly, in the United States, a few years ago Kumano led a highly acclaimed workshop in Piedmont College (Athens, Georgia). He returned September 16-19, 2016, and held a workshop at Bridgewater State University (Bridgewater, Massachusetts), from September 21-23, 2016.
New Sale Pieces for Fall (November) 2022
Thanks to endless country-style hospitality and his engrossing story-telling, every visit to Kumano is memorable. Emotions peak still higher, of course, when the results of a highly successful firing stand in front of you, and the last visit proved to be truly spell-binding.
I am very pleased to offer a large selection of works from Kumano’s most recent firing which, despite the raging of a typhoon in the middle of it, resulted in abundant ash build up and the kind of alchemical effects one can only pray for.
It goes without saying that the tea bowls, sake ware and vases are worth your attention, but also not to be overlooked are the mizusashi — the first one offered in many years — and the variety of utilitarian plates in different sizes and shapes.
The current weakness of the Japanese Yen makes prices on everything especially attractive, but this might not last; please understand that if the ¥ strengthens again, the US$ price will have to be raised.
EMS shipping lanes have reopened to almost everywhere.
Apologies for the quality of some of the photography this time. A new system was tried, which is unsatisfying. I can assure you that there exists more magic in these pieces than has been communicated here, so don't hesitate to ask for additional photos of a piece, to be shot of course in a different manner.
To access this late November update, please click below.
Go to update November 2022
We look forward to hearing from you.
All the best,
Kumano and his wife Kyoko at lunch, early November 2022
Kumano and Peter in the studio, early November 2022
Kumano Kurôemon in his studio, late November 2021
Peter Ujlaki with Kumano Kurôemon in July 2020
The Bear sketches one of his famous road maps as Kyoko (his wife)
and Kayoko (Peter's partner) look on (2018)
Inside Kumano Kurôemon's kiln after 2017 firing
Kumano Kurôemon with grandchildren 2017
Kumano Kurôemon, Peter Ujlaki, and Kumano Kyoko 2014