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b. benten is the online shop for authentic wabi sabi ceramics and housewares items from Japan for everyday use.  We expose Japan's master artisans by covering numerous potters and ceramic topics, and offer worldwide shipping for rare handcrafted items.   


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Tsutomu Masuda: The Coming of Summer

Maya Nakamura

Kamakura is probably my favorite city in Japan.  There are dozens of old Buddhist Zen temples and Shinto shrines in this area by the ocean.  It is a popular old-fashioned resort town with lovely little cafes and gallery shops everywhere.  My beloved potter, Tsutomu Masuda, was having an exhibition for 2 days to celebrate the coming of summer.  

via vuori 

via vuori 

His exhibition was at the cafe/gallery called, Vuori, right off Hase station.

Vuori  1-15-1 Hase, Kamakura 248-0016, Kanagawa

Vuori  1-15-1 Hase, Kamakura 248-0016, Kanagawa

As I walked up the stairs to the gallery on the second floor with much anticipation, I could instantly spot Masuda chatting away with his fellow wood artist, Takashi Miyashita in the corner.  Photos were not allowed in the gallery unfortunately, so I'm borrowing the photos below from their website.  


Vuori 2nd floor gallery (via vuori) 

Vuori 2nd floor gallery (via vuori

By looking at his charming smile with flip up sunglasses and slightly messy grey hair, Masuda looked like a friendly guy, and his pottery reflects his warm down-to-earth personality.  

I started to grab plates and bowls shamelessly, and spread them out on the table to decide which ones I will take home, then the sweet lady from the gallery insisted that she'd introduce me to Masuda.  Well twist my arm. 

I had such a pleasure talking to him about everything from his kiln to his love for jazz.  He told me that he was an art teacher, and he taught himself to make pottery using traditional methods like glazes, brushstrokes and powdered appearance.  And He currently resides and make pottery in Tsukui, the far northwestern corner of Kanagawa prefecture, which is known for their artist community.  (It is like Hudson, NY in my mind)  

His pottery is simple and functional, he explained.  It is meant to be used everyday and easy to mix an match with your existing dinnerware and blends into all kinds of settings.    


These are particularly my favorite from the exhibition. 

As I exited the gallery, I felt a breeze came from the ocean with a hint of summer fondly.   

It was a perfect Sunday afternoon.