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The Bear of Echizen

A "world of fire, a world all dark, totally red ..."

Kumano at shrine

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.

Kumano shaping a large vaseThis 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 Winter 2022

Kumano and I hope you are all well and that the pandemic has not upended your lives too badly. 

It is with great pleasure that I announce a fresh update to the Kumano website. 2021 was marked by general inactivity and the website remained unchanged, but toward the end of the year Kumano had a hugely successful firing and we can present with special pride close to two dozen exceptional new works. 

Returning after a several-firings absence are the enthralling blue-green arctic hues of Kumano's temperamental Shino glaze, interspersed with shell forms, ceiling drips, crystalline rivulets … and even small shards from a pot that exploded early in the firing. 

Also to be found on numerous works are the signature magical globules of shiny cobalt that can never be counted on, even at Kumano's intense temperatures, but appear only at the occasional whim of the kiln god. 

That god smiled on all of us this time. Please enjoy the offerings — including the hikidashi and non-Shino works — and do let me know if you have any questions.

Also good news is that the Covid-related shipping problems are largely over; the surcharge has been rolled back. 

Go to update February 2022

We look forward to hearing from you.

Peter Ujlaki

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Kumano Kurôemon in his studio, late November 2021

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Peter Ujlaki with Kumano Kurôemon in July 2020

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
The Bear sketches one of his famous road maps as Kyoko (his wife)
and Kayoko (Peter's partner) look on (2018)

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Inside Kumano Kurôemon's kiln after 2017 firing

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Kumano Kurôemon with grandchildren 2017

Kumano, Peter, Kayoko
Kumano Kurôemon, Peter Ujlaki, and Kumano Kyoko 2014


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