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Fujiwara Yū: living national treasure for Bizen ware


Fujiwara Yū (1932-2001) was a potter certified as a Living National Treasure (Important Intangible Cultural Asset Holder) from Inbe, Bizen City, Okayama.


Despite being completely blind in the left eye and having a weak right eye (visual acuity of 0.03), his handicap lead him, on the contrary, to develop a distinct style of work.


Fujiwara Yū The Man
His father, Fujiwara Kei, was also a Living National Treasure. In spite of being part of two consecutive generations of Living National Treasures, Fujiwara Yū did not actually set out with aspirations to get into pottery. After graduating from the Literature College of Meiji University, he found work in a publishing company, just like his father.


However, the same year he returned to his hometown to take care of his sick father. After returning home, he began to work on Bizen ware, studying under his father. Perhaps it is the influence he received from his father that his style was powerful and imposing, similar to his father's. He was a potter that could be perfectly described by the words "simplistic, lucid, and open-hearted".


Though he was visually impaired, Fujiwara Yū produced his works via the sensation of the clay through his hands. The fact that it took longer for him than others to make a piece is said to be exactly what made his passion come through clearly via the clay when he created his works.


Pots are famous when it comes to Fujiwara Yū. He produced pots so dynamic that he was dubbed "Yū of the Pots".


In addition to making Bizen ware, he also took the initiative in conducting efforts to raise worldwide awareness towards Bizen ware. In 1964, he held private exhibitions at the American Contemporary Ceramics Museum and in Canada. He also gave lectures on Bizen ware at universities in many countries, serving as a guest lecturer in America in 1965.


In this way, the formerly obscure Bizen ware began to grow its reputation gradually, even outside of Japan. In terms of getting the word out to the world on the existence of Bizen ware, Fujiwara Yū's accomplishments are huge.


* Works of Fujiwara Yū


Then, in 1996, Fujiwara Yū was certified as a Living National Treasure (Important Intangible Cultural Asset Holder). In the world of ceramics, he and his father were the first to be Living National Treasures spanning two generations.


Even later on, in 1997, he held a full-blown overseas Bizen ware exhibition (The Paris Bizen Ware Exhibition at the French Royal Ceramics Museum), pushing for the development of Bizen ware. He himself related that "making Bizen ware famous worldwide is my calling".

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