Defining Raku Ceramics: Translations, Elisions, Evolutions

Author: Morgan Pitelka orcid logo (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

  • Defining Raku Ceramics: Translations, Elisions, Evolutions


    Defining Raku Ceramics: Translations, Elisions, Evolutions



Raku ceramics were first produced in Kyoto in the late sixteenth century, and have continued to be made and used in the context of ritualized Japanese tea culture (chanoyu) up to the present day. This essay examines the interest of Charles Lang Freer in Raku ceramics, and considers how his acquisitions—largely collected between 1895 and 1910, a period of some turmoil in the Japanese art market—serve as a useful index to changing assessments of the Raku ceramic tradition and its place in the broader landscape of arts associated with traditional tea culture in Japan and abroad.

Keywords: ceramics, raku, tea, Japan, collecting, Meiji

How to Cite:

Pitelka, M., (2023) “Defining Raku Ceramics: Translations, Elisions, Evolutions”, Ars Orientalis 53: 9. doi:



Published on
16 Dec 2023
Peer Reviewed

On April 8, 1902, Charles Lang Freer (1854–1919) wrote to a certain Miss Tomo Inoue of Fukuoka, Japan, to thank her for her translation of an essay titled “Raku yaki chawan No. I,” (“Raku ware tea bowls, no. 1”) by an unknown author.1 Freer had been interested in Raku ceramics for many years before the receipt of this document. His first purchase of a Raku ceramic took place in 1893, when he acquired a lion-shaped incense-burner with the (probably false) seal of Raku Sōnyū (1664–1716), fifth head of the Raku workshop.2 Freer’s acquisition of Raku wares increased throughout the late nineteenth century, particularly after returning from his first trip to Japan in 1895, a stay that included thirty-one days in Kyoto over a period of four months.3 Of the more than one hundred Raku-style ceramics in the current Freer collection, he bought approximately thirty-five before 1902 that were originally attributed to the Raku family. As many as a dozen more were also purchased during this period but did not make Freer’s final cut for donation to the Smithsonian Institution.4

Despite these previous experiences with Raku, Inoue’s translation represented the most comprehensive guide to the connoisseurship of Raku wares that Freer had seen. He wrote: “Your translation of Raku yaki is very interesting and thoroughly instructive. Although it has been my good fortune heretofore to read several interesting things concerning the Raku family translated from the Japanese, I have never read anything as complete and interesting as your own translation.”5 Freer’s effusive praise may have represented a kind of strategic flattery, an attempt to build a relationship that would lead to further assistance. Perhaps he simply wanted to thank someone who either volunteered the translation or was commissioned by Freer or one of his regular dealers. He also was in all likelihood quite impressed with the translation and its wealth of details; although roughly rendered, it provides an interesting glimpse into the discourse about Raku ceramics among Japanese ceramics specialists at the turn of the century.

The translated essay as well as the early Raku ceramics that Freer acquired are today located in the National Museum of Asian Art’s Freer Gallery of Art, which has over four thousand examples of Asian ceramics in its collection. More than one thousand of these are attributed to Japanese provenance; the majority were acquired by Freer, a Detroit-based businessman, collector, and traveler. He acquired his collection of Japanese ceramics in a period spanning four decades, both during his own travels to Japan in 1895, 1907, 1909, and 1910 and through the offices of dealers in Japan, Boston, New York, and Paris. In 1902 the historian Charles Moore suggested that Freer consider contributing his collection to the Smithsonian, and within two years he had decided in favor of the donation. After two additional years of negotiation, which included the personal intervention of President Theodore Roosevelt in favor of accepting Freer’s gift, the Smithsonian Regents approved the proposed donation to the growing complex on the National Mall. Freer’s collection was to have its own building (“the Washington Building,” as Freer modestly referred to the future Freer Gallery of Art) connected to the “National Museum,” a site that it has occupied since opening to the public in May 1923.6 The Freer collection is a tremendous resource for the study of Japanese ceramics, as well as a snapshot of a particular period in the complex and evolving history of American interest in Japanese art.

Inoue’s translation of the essay on Raku ceramics begins with an explanation of the qualities of certain ceramic bowls for the consumption of powdered green tea (matcha), a practice that had been popular among elites in Japan since the sixteenth century. The essay focuses on Raku tea bowls (chawan), used in the ritualized and stylized tea gatherings that became codified in the seventeenth century and that we now know of as “the tea ceremony” (chanoyu or chadō). Unlike objects borrowed from other contexts to be used for tea gatherings, Raku tea bowls were made expressly for the purpose of tea ritual. The author comments that “nothing is more superior than Raku-yaki, which gives tea neither too strong nor too mild [a] taste, just a happy medium between bitter and sweet.”7 Here the author argues that Raku tea bowls, perhaps from the quality or consistency of the clay and glaze, do not simply possess a superior look and feel but improve the flavor of the tea. Though it is not explicitly stated, this is an argument for the preeminence of Raku over all other tea ceramics, as the tasting of the tea lies at the very heart of the ceremony.

The translation also emphasizes the importance of the embodied experience of a tea gathering to develop ceramic connoisseurship skills: “The true value of chawan can be told only after tasting tea in them, therefore a person who does not know or understand about the ceremonial tea cannot judge their real value.”8 Here the author invokes the function of the bowl in its ritual context as both an ontological and aesthetic principle of engagement. A tea bowl must not only be handled but drunk from, with the implication that tea gatherings are the only appropriate opportunities for ceramic judgment and appreciation. Freer clearly noticed this attempt to claim special connoisseurial distinction for practitioners of tea over mere collectors of tea wares, and his responding letter contained a friendly rejoinder: “One item of particular interest brought out in your translation, and which I have not found heretofore, is the importance given to certain tea bowls of Raku make because of the taste of the tea made in certain bowls. The leading collectors in this country purchase Raku bowls more for beauty of manufacture, beauty of glaze and for their historical importance chiefly.” Freer perhaps had in mind the ceramics collection of Edward Sylvester Morse (1838–1925), the zoologist turned collector and museum administrator who was responsible for the large collection of Japanese ceramics at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). Morse pursued his acquisition of ceramics with a distinctly nineteenth-century scientific zeal, arranging and classifying his ceramic “specimens” along empirical rather than aesthetic lines. Morse wrote in the preface to his 1900 catalog of the MFA collection, “The importance of each specimen has been fully weighed in accordance with the effort to secure the work not only of every known family of potters in Japan, but of all the generations of each family and their collateral branches, with the various marks used by them.”9

These two radically different approaches to the connoisseurship of tea ceramics represent two underlying modernist discourses, played out on the soil of Japanese cultural history. Inoue’s translation, on the one hand, is representative of much writing about tea of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with the best-known examples being the works of Okakura Kakuzō (Tenshin; 1863–1913), who conceptualized tea as a key element in the Japanese national essence, a product of the country’s traditional past that differentiated it from the powers of Western civilization. Okakura attempted to outline a Hegelian national collective subject, a project pursued by a wide range of intellectuals around the world in the turn-of-the-century age of industrialization and the clash of nation-states.10 What links Inoue’s translation with Okakura’s writing is the strong emphasis on the distinctiveness of Japanese civilizational practices, and the insistence that Japan—or in this case Raku—represents a kind of climax of “Oriental” cultural evolution.

Morse’s putative empiricism, on the other hand, is representative of the pseudo-scientific approach to non-European art and culture espoused by a variety of American and European collectors, anthropologists, and colonial administrators in the nineteenth century. The cultural products of “the natives” were labeled, classified, and shipped home to “ethnographic museums” in the United States and Western Europe for evaluation and display, much as birds and butterflies were caught, killed, and arranged for scientific study by zoologists and ecologists. This type of “systematic collecting” claims to create an objectively real microcosm of the world, although the laws and rules that dictate its boundaries are as ideologically determined as the personal whims of an individual, fetishistic collector.11

Inoue’s translation and Freer’s response thus provide glimpses of two rival ideologies of modernity at work in the world of early twentieth-century ceramic collecting. The actual objects Freer collected, and the subsequent evaluations and revaluations they underwent in the Freer Gallery, also afford a view of the changing practice of connoisseurship of the Japanese arts. Though the details of the lives of these objects before they entered Freer’s collection are often difficult to determine, the varying manners in which they were assigned value inside and outside the museum reveal much about the changes that have taken place (and continue to take place) in the study of Japanese ceramics. Using eight Raku tea bowls from the Freer collection, this essay will explore the changing definition of Raku ceramics, ranging from Inoue’s questionable translation, which impressed Freer so much, to the recent writings of the head of the Raku family. In the end, as will be argued below, the Freer collection of Raku ceramics is an exceptionally valuable doorway into the complex practices and products of early modern Japanese tea culture, leading us to unexpected destinations.

The Problem of Origins

Inoue’s translation includes significant attention to the origins of the Raku tradition, a framework that was often found in Edo-period writings on Raku but that was amplified in Meiji texts, wherein locating the innovative creator became an urgent civilizational task.12 It is important to note that today scholars understand Raku ceramics to consist of a low-fire, lead-glazed ware developed by a diverse group of potters in Kyoto in the late sixteenth century rather than being the product of a single individual or family. However, the translation’s version of the Raku lineage (which I present in this paragraph as written, including mistakes) begins with a figure named Ameya, who is claimed to be a Korean immigrant maker of tea utensils who married a Japanese woman and had five children. Upon his death, his wife became a nun and continued making pots to support the family. This profession was passed on to the eldest son, “Chosuke [sic]” (first generation), who made pots by order of Oda Nobunaga and was granted the surname Tanaka by the famous tea master “Senno Rikyū.” Ameya’s second son, “Chojiro,” made tiles for the warlord Hideyoshi, and later was commanded to use the tile clay to make tea bowls in a new style. These bowls were so admired by Hideyoshi that he named them “first-class under heaven,” and gave the family a gold seal with the character “raku,” “to be handed down everlastingly.”

Much of the information provided in Inoue’s translation is now considered to be incorrect by tea and ceramic scholars. It is believed, for example, that Ameya was Chinese, rather than Korean, and that his son Chōjirō operated a workshop of potters rather than a one-person studio. Yet reliable evidence pertaining to Chōjirō is scant.13 One pot that illustrates the conundrum of Raku’s origins is the black tea bowl in figure 1.14 The bowl is shaped as a half-cylinder (hantsutsu), with dimensions slightly wider than tall (8.1 cm by 11.0 cm), a design that became popular in the late sixteenth century. The walls are straight and the rim even, a profile that is similar to several well-known Chōjirō tea bowls such as “Mozuya guro” and “Omokage,” but with a slightly more angular hip.15 The bowl is entirely covered by a thick, black lead glaze characteristic of Raku family ceramic production, but its surface shows less of the “orange peel” texture and less of the oxidation that produces an orangish hue in some bowls attributed to Chōjirō. Because the base and foot are glazed, it is difficult to identify the clay body, although this is typical of late sixteenth-century Raku pieces. Tapping the rim of the bowl, however, produces the “thud” of a low-fired clay rather than the ring of a high-fired body. The clay body is thus likely one of the standard Raku family clays or a variation used by a different Kyoto kiln.16 A faint imprint left by metal tongs also indicates that the object was removed from the kiln while still red-hot and placed in an isolated oven to cool, another characteristic Raku technique. There is significant wear inside the bowl—fine scratches and a general softening of the gloss of the glaze—a sign that the bowl had been used for tea preparation (involving vigorous stirring with a bamboo whisk) for many years before it was acquired by Freer. Judging from the general patina of age, the mat quality of the lead glaze, the signs of heavy use, and the reserved shape, the object could indeed date to the late sixteenth century.

FIGURE 1. Unknown Raku ware workshop. Tea bowl, Japan, Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, 17th century. Raku-type earthenware with black Raku glaze, H x Diam: 8.1 × 11 cm. National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, Freer Collection, Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1900.87

The half-cylinder shape became common among bowls produced in the Seto/Mino region in the mid- to late-sixteenth century, and one scholar has argued that the similar Raku shape may be related to these popular Seto/Mino tea ceramics.17 The deep-black Raku glaze is also related to tea bowls in the Black Seto style, which also became popular in the late sixteenth century. The Freer bowl’s major distinguishing characteristic is the fact that it (like most Raku tea bowls) was made without the use of a potter’s wheel, hand built rather than wheel thrown. To be more specific, it was most likely hand carved: the potter formed the clay into a roughly cylindrical shape, allowed it to reach a semi-hard state, and then carved the bowl with a set of metal or wooden tools. Although it lacks some of the more obvious signs of a hand-carved bowl—facets, cuts, and irregular lines—it shows none of the balance or lines of a wheel-thrown bowl, leading to the conclusion that it was certainly hand formed and perhaps hand carved.

We are left, then, with a bowl in the style of the earliest Raku tea bowls, with nothing to indicate that it is not a product of the Raku family. Freer must have shared this opinion, as he purchased the bowl in November 1900 for the sum of $65. The inventory list of purchased objects received from “Bunkio Matsuki, Importer of Japanese Fine Arts, 380 Boylston Street” described the object in the following manner:

1 Chojiro Tea Bowl, 2nd Raku. Black with dark tea green running glaze on outside near foot. First box on which is written as follows: “Chojiro Ware - Black Tea Bowl.” was written by Sotan about 1600. On second box inscription says: - “Eleventh Raku Keiniu certified that this is genuine Chojiro Tea Bowl,” 1900 A.D. at request of B. Matsuki. 65.00 Height - 3 1/16 in.18

On the surface this description claims that the bowl was originally attributed to Chōjirō by Sen Sōtan (1578–1658), the tea master who revived the fortunes of the Sen family in the early seventeenth century. This attribution was then verified as correct by Raku Keinyū (1817–1902), eleventh-generation master of the Raku family, at the request of the dealer. However, it is difficult to take seriously the attribution of the box inscription to Sōtan, one of the most important figures in seventeenth-century tea society, without examining his calligraphy on the box lid, now lost. Furthermore, it is problematic to rely on the authentication of the eleventh-generation Raku master, Keinyū, because he operated the family business in a time of extreme financial hardship for Kyoto’s traditional arts, and it is possible that paid authentications for dealers (of which there were many at this time of great Western interest in acquiring “authentic,” old tea ceramics) were made primarily for economic reasons. Lacking reliable documentation and any clear stylistic reference to other known works by Chōjirō (of which there are few), it is unlikely that this bowl is by Chōjirō’s hand.

The tea bowl thus seems to be the product of Chōjirō’s period without necessarily being the product of Chōjirō himself. Archaeological materials point to the possibility that low-fired, lead-glazed wares may have been made by more than one workshop in the late sixteenth century. Tea diaries from this period refer to a new style of tea bowl called “contemporary ceramics” (imayaki).19 This phrase seems likely to refer not just to the works of Chōjirō and his workshop, but to a variety of small studios producing low-fire wares in Kyoto in response to requests from urban tea practitioners. The research of archaeologists, particularly excavations of sites across Kyoto that have unearthed a range of low-fire sherds with lead glazes that are related to the ceramics attributed to Chōjirō but are clearly in a different style, supports this hypothesis.

The black tea bowl in figure 2, originally attributed to Chōjirō, presents a different set of circumstances. This object, also a purchase from Bunkio Matsuki (1867–1940), for the price of $70 in 1902,20 seems even more likely to be a product of Chōjirō or his era than the bowl in figure 1. Again, the walls of this half-cylinder bowl are straight and even, and the glaze is thick and evenly applied. Like the inside of the bowl in figure 1, the bowl in figure 2 appears well used, with the orange, rust-like patina that is found on several bowls attributed to Chōjirō. These characteristics have been the source of much controversy within the Freer Gallery. Morse, who advised Freer on his ceramics and helped him decide which objects to include in the Smithsonian gift and which to give away or sell, commented to Freer early on that he was “doubtful about its genuineness.”21 Later he wrote, “Raku? Yes, it may be an unsigned piece of no consequence.” These observations were confirmed by subsequent Japanese experts in ceramics and tea who visited the museum and commented that the bowl clearly has many of the material characteristics of early Raku ware but lacks the nuance of form associated with the works of Chōjirō.

FIGURE 2. Unknown Raku ware workshop. Tea bowl, Japan, Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, late 16th century. Pottery with black Raku glaze; black lacquer repairs, H x Diam: 8.6 × 11 cm. National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, Freer Collection, Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1902.52

These bowls that were originally attributed to Chōjirō, who Inoue’s translation claims (inaccurately) was a kind of favorite potter to the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, thus reveal the dubious origins of the tradition. Though dissatisfying to those who want heroic and individualist creators to be honored as the founders of lasting traditions, the difficulty of attributing any single tea bowl that appears to be in the style of Chōjirō to a single potter is a fundamental characteristic of the tradition for reasons that will be explained below. Doubts about the “genuineness” of these pieces are, for the historian of ceramics who seeks to apprehend the changing definition of what does and does not qualify as “Raku,” a feature rather than a bug.

The Problem of Amateurs

One of the central figures in Raku ceramic history not included in Inoue’s translation is Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558–1637), a sword connoisseur, calligrapher, designer, and amateur potter. Kōetsu learned tea ceremony from a young age from Oda Uraku (also known as Nagamasa; 1547–1622) and Furuta Oribe (also known as Shigenari; 1544–1615), and seems to have deliberately pursued tea and ceramics as a pastime rather than as a career because he wanted to avoid the kind of conflict that led to the forced suicides of Sen no Rikyū (1522–1591) and Furuta Oribe, both tea masters whose political activities proved their undoing.22 As a member of a distinguished family of sword polishers who had regular interactions with the powerful warrior leaders of Japan, and as a well-networked member of the urban commoner elite of Kyoto, Kōetsu was proximate to the most influential men of his day while still maintaining a humble profile as a playful, almost dilettantish artist. It is difficult here to extract Kōetsu’s “true” character from the various hagiographic writings of the mid- and late Edo period, but it is clear that Kōetsu reacted to the increasing reverence for famous, old, named objects (meibutsu) among tea practitioners by taking particular joy in creating playful new works for daily use.23

Of primary concern here, however, is Kōetsu’s ceramic production. It is unclear how many pots Kōetsu made or designed in his lifetime, but by the nineteenth century his wares were commonly copied by fellow tea practitioners and professional potters alike. Of the many pots attributed to Kōetsu when Freer acquired them, a third black tea bowl is the most likely to be by his hand (fig. 3). This tea bowl is in the standard half-cylinder shape with a flat rim, slightly curved but balanced sides, and a sharply cut base. The bowl is glazed with a thick, olive-green and brown glaze that is alternately mat and glossy. Slight vertical hatch marks are visible on the exterior wall around the bottom half of the bowl. It is difficult to identify the clay body because of the extent of glazing, but the weight and sonorous quality of the object would indicate a low-fired body.24

FIGURE 3. Attributed to Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558–1637). Black Raku ware tea bowl named “Minogame” (Mossy-tailed tortoise), Japan, Kyoto prefecture, Kyoto, Edo period, 1605–37. Earthenware with black raku glaze, H x Diam: 8.7 × 12.5 cm. National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, Freer Collection, Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1899.34a–c

This bowl has been repeatedly reevaluated during its lifetime in the Freer collection. Freer acquired the object from Bunkio Matsuki in September 1899 for the high price of $120.25 This is an indication of the respect given to Kōetsu’s works by the late nineteenth century, and the extent to which dealers were able to exploit the demand for the Kōetsu name to make profits. The original inventory list and receipt from Matsuki reads, “1 Koyetsu Bowl, ‘Mino Kame’ (Sacred Turtle) written on the cover of box by red lacquer by Sanū [sic] the 6th Raku (1660–1730 [sic]).” Freer wrote in an early note, “I think genuine,” and later, “Beautiful. Attributed to Koyetsu. Very doubtful if genuine but a splendid imitation.” In 1921, Morse responded, “Modern imitation.” In 1957, the debate was continued by Koyama Fujio, who wrote, “This is the best Raku piece in the collection, very probably by Koetsu, himself. A splendid piece. Every effort should be made to find the original box which would give the name of the piece, for undoubtedly it had one in Japan. This ranks with such famous Koetsu teabowls in Japan as Amagumo in the Mitsui collection and Shigure in the Morikawa Kanichiro collection at Nagoya. It is similar to both pieces in body and glaze. In Japan today it would bring several million yen.”26 The box, apparently, had been separated from the bowl, and without it the words on Matsuki’s inventory remained a mystery.

In 1982, however, this problem was solved when the box was found, with inscriptions by Rokurokusai Sōsa (1847–1910), eleventh head of the Omotesenke tea school, rather than Raku Sanyū (1685–1719) as believed by Matsuki, a difference of two centuries in the estimated time of attribution. Expert visitors to the Freer Gallery acknowledged on repeated examinations of the tea bowl that it is either an authentic work of Kōetsu or a copy by someone with access to his originals. In 1983, Hayashiya Seizō, perhaps the most prolific writer on the Raku ceramic tradition and the historian of ceramics most dedicated to celebrating the form of the Japanese tea bowl, reported the following: “I cannot make up my mind about this bowl. I keep thinking about it. The workmanship is a bit stiff.”27 These assessments reveal an interesting phenomenon: a plethora of experts agreed that this object was well made and in the Kōetsu style, but no consensus emerged on how the piece diverged from the standard Kōetsu style.

These circumstances can be partially explained by the fact that Kōetsu made a wide variety of shapes and experimented with glaze types and techniques. It is known that he collaborated with the Raku workshop in this, as illustrated by four extant letters in his own hand.28 But he was not alone in such collaborations; generations of tea masters and other patrons of the Raku workshop engaged in amateur production of tea bowls, often attempts to honorably and respectfully reproduce the forms made by luminaries such as Chōjirō and Kōetsu. For the potter or tea practitioner who hand carved the bowl in figure 3, the object was a celebration of Kōetsu’s originality as a craftsman and a tea master. This reproduction (utsushi) was not an attempt to pass off a “fake” bowl as a Kōetsu product; rather, it fits into a larger, early modern Japanese culture of quotation and citation that is ill understood, and in fact rarely acknowledged, by the post-enlightenment notions of artistic authenticity that colonized Japanese discussions of heritage in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.29

The Problem of Copying

The Edo-period phenomenon of copying as an act of celebration grows even more complex when we consider a red tea bowl that seems, on first glance, to be the product of a rank amateur (fig. 4). The bowl is thick and heavy, ovoid but asymmetrical. The rim is cut flat, and the foot is so small that it does not protrude from the swollen base. There are two scars on the base from the firing process, and two indentations in the walls of the bowl. The gut reaction of most people to this bowl would be less than positive: in the words of Morse, “Absolutely rotten!”30

FIGURE 4. Raku Ryōnyū (1756–1834). Tea bowl, copy of “Hatsuzakura” by Kakukakusai Sōsa (1678–1730), Japan, Kyoto prefecture, Kyoto, Edo period, 19th century. Earthenware with red slip under clear lead glaze, H x W: 9.1 × 13.5 cm. National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, Freer Collection, Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1911.388

Surprisingly, however, the bowl bears the authentic seal of Raku Ryōnyū (1756–1834), the mark known as his “middle period” seal, the time stretching from the Great Fire of 1788 to 1811, when he took the tonsure and retired as the head of the Raku workshop. As is true for many Raku ceramics, this atypical Ryōnyū bowl can be explained with reference to the work of another potter, but this time the artist being celebrated was not a member of the Raku lineage, but a tea master and amateur Raku potter, Kakukakusai Sōsa (1678–1730), sixth head of the Omotesenke tea school. Adopted as the son of the fifth-generation Omotesenke master Sen Zuiryūsai (1650–1691) at the age of twelve, Kakukakusai was rapidly propelled into a position of authority when his adopted father died only four years later.31 Kakukakusai held the headship of the Omotesenke tea school in an age of relative urban prosperity when tea patronage in particular was on the rise, with new strains of tea culture emerging due to the growing communities of town and city residents active in tea and the arts. Kakukakusai responded to this with his own enthusiasm, as both an active collector of tea utensils and as an ardent amateur potter of tea bowls, incense burners, and other ceramic objects.

Kakukakusai was particularly fond of making bowls in the Raku style. Of central importance here is Kakukakusai’s well-known bowl “Hatsuzakura,” of which the Freer bowl is clearly a direct reproduction. Raku Ryōnyū’s reproduction of Hatsuzakura was a celebration of Kakukakusai’s life and work, as well as a reaffirmation of the importance of the tie between the Raku workshop and the Omotesenke tea school. What is most interesting is that Kakukakusai’s tea bowls are explicitly in the style of Kōetsu, who in turn was a collaborator with the third-generation head of the Raku workshop, Nonkō (1599–1656).32 The tea bowl in figure 4 thus represents a tangled web of relationships: it is the product of a late eighteenth-century Raku potter celebrating the work of an early eighteenth-century tea master, who in turn was celebrating the work of the seventeenth-century artist Kōetsu, who was a collaborator with the head of the Raku workshop. This network of cultural production and consumption, where the line between maker, patron, and innovator was fluid, is a key element in Raku ceramic production.

The Problem of Rivals

Another interesting facet of Raku ceramic production, also absent from Inoue’s translation, is represented by a tea bowl made by the fourth-generation master of the Ōhi line of potters in Kanazawa (fig. 5). Ōhi ceramic production began in 1666, when the lord of the Kaga domain, Maeda Tsunanori (1643–1724), invited the tea master Sensō Sōshitsu (1622–1697), youngest son of Sen Sōtan and founder of the Urasenke tea school, to Kanazawa as his tea master.33 Sensō, who had been engaged in amateur Raku production of the type begun by Kōetsu, was acquainted with the Raku workshop and brought a worker from the workshop with him to Kanazawa. Sensō was forty-five, and the potter, Chōzaemon (1631–1712), was thirty-seven. After Sensō returned to Kyoto, Chōzaemon stayed in Kanazawa and founded a Raku-style kiln in the town of Ōhi the same year.34

FIGURE 5. Ōhi Kanbei (d. 1802). Ōhi ware shallow tea bowl with incised design, Japan, Ishikawa prefecture, Kanazawa, Edo period, second half of 18th century. Ōhi ware, H x Diam: 6.5 × 13.6 cm. National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, Freer Collection, Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1898.497

The maker of this Ōhi tea bowl, the fourth-generation Kanbei (Dōan; 1751–1839), is considered one of the finest Ōhi potters. The bowl is representative of the Ōhi tradition in many ways. It has an open horizontal shape, wider than it is tall, with thin walls and a sturdy foot. The bowl is covered with a lustrous caramel-brown lead and copper glaze. The distinctive Ōhi spiral is carved into the hip of the bowl, and the Ōhi seal mark is impressed in the center of the foot ring but is barely visible because of the glaze. A tong mark is visible on the outer wall, the only remaining sign of the removal of the piece from the kiln while still red-hot.

We can also consider a tea bowl by the seventh-generation Ōhi potter Michitada (Dōchū; 1849–1896) (fig. 6). The bowl is in the classic half-cylinder shape, with a wide body and a small foot. Seen from above, the bowl’s shape is ovoidal rather than round. It is made from a soft, low-fired clay body, exposed at the foot and in several areas on the external walls. The bowl is decorated with a lead and copper glaze that runs green, brown, and amber, with pine tree designs faintly visible in a tinted slip. Vertical hatch marks from the carving process are visible around the outside wall. The foot is roughly carved, with a small Ōhi seal next to the foot ring on the base. The piece is extremely light. Though the amber glaze is rarely seen on tea bowls made by the Raku workshop, the shape and heft of this bowl could easily lead one to mistake it for a product of one of the Raku family potters.

FIGURE 6. Ōhi Dōchū VI (1836–1896). Ōhi ware tea bowl with design of pine trees, Japan, Ishikawa prefecture, Kanazawa, Edo period or Meiji era, late 19th century. Earthenware with black Raku glaze and pigments, H x Diam: 7.9 × 11.3 cm. National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, Freer Collection, Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1900.96

At the most basic level, these formal anomalies illustrate the fact that ceramics in the Raku style were made outside the Raku workshop, by potters who were directly trained in the techniques of the Raku family but were not related by blood or adoption. In addition to using a similar refractory clay body, hand-carving tea bowls, and firing pieces in small quantities in a single kiln, by the late eighteenth century Ōhi potters began to use a black lead glaze similar to the black glaze of the Raku family.35 Furthermore, the fact that the Ōhi kiln originated in a connection with the founder of the Urasenke tea school, and more importantly prospered under the patronage of Maeda Tsunanori (1643–1724), lord of the Kaga domain, is also significant. As is the case with the Raku family, the Ōhi kiln flourished by making tea wares for a wide consumer base of townsmen, warriors, and other tea practitioners, but it was legitimized by its origins with a famous “man of tea” (chajin) and through its relationship with the local center of political power.36 As Kanazawa was a center for cultural activity in which tea practitioners, merchants, warriors, and other cultural persona routinely interacted, the works of the Ōhi kiln must be considered another vital link in the network of production and consumption of Raku ceramics.

Our understanding of what counts as a Raku tea bowl expands further when we consider a tea bowl that clearly displays the general material characteristics of a Raku workshop product (fig. 7). It has the common half-cylinder shape of a Raku tea bowl, hand carved and covered with a thick, black lead glaze that developed reddish-brown tints when fired. The surface of the glaze is glossy and displays a deep iridescence. The base is entirely glazed, covering the clay body, and three spur marks are visible on the foot ring; inside the foot ring a spiral has been carved. As with many Raku bowls, a tong mark is visible on the outer wall of the bowl. The bowl is small, compact, and light, and has the feel of a product of an experienced professional potter. It does not exhibit strong carving marks or a bold decorative scheme. The object is not, however, attributed to any of the main lineage of Raku potters but to a line of potters known as Tamamizu.

FIGURE 7. Unknown Raku ware workshop. Tea bowl named “Omokage” (Memory), Japan, Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto, n.d. Raku-type clay with black Raku glaze, H x Diam: 8 × 11.5 cm. National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, Freer Collection, Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1898.443

The origins of Tamamizu ware are found in the history of the Raku family kiln. Just as the Raku potters had employed the founder of the Ōhi kiln, Chōzaemon, before he made his own way, they also were responsible for the initial training of the founder of the Tamamizu kiln. In fact, the Raku potter Ichinyū was the father of the founder of Tamamizu ware. However, facing economic difficulties, Ichinyū made the decision to adopt a son from the wealthy merchant Kariganeya Sanzaemon (father of Ogata Kōrin and Kenzan) in 1665. The practice of adoption was common in artisan, merchant, and warrior families during the Edo period, perpetuation of the family occupation under the ancestral name being more important than blood lineage. Though it is not clear from the existing documentation, it seems likely that Ichinyū intended from the beginning to make this adopted son head of the family when he retired.

A conflict soon developed between Ichinyū and his adopted son on one side and his wife and natural son on the other, and this led to an unprecedented split in the family. Ichinyū’s natural son and wife returned to the wife’s village of Tamamizu in southern Kyoto, where Ichinyū had lived for a time as well.37 The natural son opened a Raku kiln in Tamamizu and adopted the name Ichigen; he marked his pots with a Raku seal and claimed to be the true inheritor of the Raku tradition.38 Meanwhile, Ichinyū and the adopted son moved to the Abura no Kōji district of Kyoto, the location of the Raku family workshop to the present day. The adopted son worked in the workshop with Ichinyū. In 1688 appeared the first work attributed to the adopted son’s own hand—not a pot, but a document. Perhaps in response to the activities of his rival, the adopted son recorded the lineage of the Raku family for the first time. It is not known who the intended audience was, or the extent of Ichinyū’s involvement in the writing. Perhaps Ichinyū guided his adopted son in the composition to make him feel that he was part of a larger tradition and to teach him his place in the Raku workshop, which the document articulates as a lineage for the first time. This was a major moment in the history of the Raku family: later generations would also record the Raku lineage and their place in it, often in moments of economic hardship or competition with other markets, and eventually the idea emerged that Raku was a family lineage of single, master potters rather than a line of workshops with a variety of employees. It is here, in the actions of an adopted son struggling to find his role in the face of intense opposition, that the notion of the Raku tradition as a familial, generational line was born.

The tea bowl in figure 7 is the only example in the Freer collection attributed to the Tamamizu kiln, but the reasons are unclear since the original documentation and box inscriptions have been lost. Like many of the Raku-affiliated works that Freer acquired in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it may be that this work was part of the enormous corpus of Raku tea bowls that were made as reproductions either inside or outside the Raku workshop and later given new names and new attributions for the Meiji art market. As a signpost pointing to the late seventeenth-century split in the Raku family, a period that has been called the age of the northern and southern Raku kilns, the pot remains an important member of the Freer’s Raku collection.

The Problem of the Side Hustle

Our vision of the breadth of Raku ceramic production expands even further when we consider the tea bowl identified as “Kōrakuen ware” based on the seal mark impressed into its base (fig. 8). The object is in the half-cylinder shape, glazed with a thick, black lead glaze, and a design of Mt. Fuji and clouds in white slip on the exterior wall. The seal mark “Kōrakuen sei” reveals this to be an example of one of the most intriguing types of Raku ware produced in the Edo period, named for the garden in the Koishikawa compound of the Mito Tokugawa family in Edo. In this garden, the Mito lord sponsored the construction of a kiln to produce Raku-style tea wares under the supervision of a visiting professional potter. This type of ceramic production, called “garden ceramics” (oniwayaki), became popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries as warrior interest in tea increased, and as domainal lords and their retainers began their own amateur ceramic production in the style of the Kyoto tea practitioners.39

FIGURE 8. Probably by Raku Tannyū (1795–1854). Kōrakuen ware tea bowl with design of Mt. Fuji, Japan, Tokyo, Edo period or Meiji era, 19th century. Earthenware with black Raku and white glazes, H x Diam: 9.2 × 11.7 cm. National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution, Freer Collection, Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1898.132

Raku potters frequently assisted domainal lords with the process of setting up and maintaining their garden kilns, particularly the leaders of the Tokugawa branch families. Raku Tannyū (1795–1854), for example, was intimately involved with the founding of the Kii Tokugawa’s Kairakuen garden kiln, conducting workshops there in 1819, 1827, 1831, 1832, 1834, 1842, 1843, and 1844; in return he received lodging and board and an unspecified cash payment.40 Indeed, the bowl in figure 8 is perhaps the product of Tannyū’s hand, as he worked at Kōrakuen as well as Kairakuen and produced tea bowls in this style. Similar works by Tanyū include a red bowl with the Mt. Fuji motif in white slip on the exterior wall, and a black tea bowl with a similar glaze and shape to this bowl.41 Lacking further information on the circumstances of its production, however, it is impossible to definitively attribute this bowl to Tannyū. Like the Tamamizu-attributed bowl examined above, however, it is a vital component in the Freer’s Raku collection as it challenges the standard definition of what comprises a Raku-workshop-produced tea bowl and complexifies our understanding of Edo-period networks of patronage and cultural production.


Scholarship on Raku ceramics in Japanese has evolved considerably from the time of Freer’s eager reception of Inoue’s translation of “Raku yaki chawan No. I” in 1902. The first wave of significant postwar scholarship on Raku was led by the tea insiders and consummate connoisseurs Hayashiya Seizō and Akanuma Taka, who published landmark volumes such as Hayashiya’s Chōjirō, volume 20 of Nihon tōji zenshū (Complete series of Japanese ceramics), and Akanuma’s Raku daidai (The Raku generations), volume 21 of the same series. These volumes celebrate the work of Chōjirō as the creative founder of the tradition who collaborated with the virtuoso tea master Sen no Rikyū, and the authors represent the subsequent generations of the family as vehicles of continuity. Hon’ami Kōetsu is praised as an individualist genius, but the larger tradition of amateurs is ignored. Hayashiya and Akanuma continued to write about Raku in a similar vein in a variety of venues, ranging from exhibition catalogs to the official publications of the Urasenke tea school to the Japanese ceramics magazines and journals over which they held major influence.

In the 1990s, the scholarship of Hayashiya and Akanuma was supplemented by the writing of the fifteenth-generation head of the Raku family, who has since then become the most prolific author of Raku-related texts in the 440-year history of the tradition. Known by the traditional working title of Raku Kichizaemon until his retirement in 2019 and adoption of the name Raku Jikinyū, Kichizaemon’s early forays into writing about Raku attempted to negotiate the gap that he perceived between the lineal tradition that linked him to the founder, Chōjirō, and his own creative and expressive dilemmas as a contemporary artist. His writings from the 1980s, largely in exhibition catalogs of his own works, read as examples of the artist’s-statement genre rather than essays on the history of a ceramic tradition. In the 1990s, however, Kichizaemon seems to have become increasingly interested in and perhaps concerned about the representation of the history of his own family. Working together with Hayashiya and Akanuma, he organized a major traveling exhibition of Raku family ceramics to be displayed at museums in Europe and North America, a kind of soft relaunch of the tradition that would emphasize the uniqueness and indeed superiority of his family over all other makers of Raku wares, clearly expressed in the kingly title of the exhibition and its catalogs: Raku: A Dynasty of Japanese Ceramists.42

Simultaneous with this ambitious series of international exhibitions, Japanese archaeologists were beginning to publish new excavation reports from Kyoto, Osaka, and other urban consumer sites that fundamentally challenged the orthodox Raku timelines that were based largely on evaluation of heirloom ceramics. In 1999 the Kyoto City Archaeological Museum held a two-part exhibition and published a catalog on the massive corpus of excavated ceramic sherds from the sites of Kyoto ceramics dealers in particular, revealing a world of diverse tea-influenced wares that the heirloom evidence—and thus the arguments of much of the previous several decades of Japanese tea ceramic scholarship—could not account for.43 Proof was mounting that the Raku ceramic tradition could not be reduced to a single line of familial potters. Signs of other low-temperature, lead-glazed ceramic studios in Kyoto in the late sixteenth century led to questions about the diversity of Raku ceramic production in other periods as well. Perhaps amateur production by the likes of Kōetsu was not an aberration but a pattern, seen clearly in the regular manufacture of Raku tea bowls by tea practitioners and particularly the heads of tea schools. Perhaps rival Raku kilns such as Ōhi and Tamamizu, long dismissed in the orthodox tea scholarship as illegitimate kilns (wakigama), needed to be reevaluated as core elements of the tradition.

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, new scholarship in English and Japanese also called attention to family documents that implied the Raku workshop was not a closed, lineal organization—as the father-to-son generational ideology implied—but a lively and open studio, with male and female family members, workshop assistants, tea-practitioner customers, and merchant patrons all contributing to the collective creative process.44 In addition, new scholarship on Raku’s representation in the burgeoning manuscript and print culture of the eighteenth century showed that the techniques and symbols the Raku family claimed as their own were in fact accessible to tea practitioners and potters in books all across the archipelago. Careful analysis of the archaeological materials, all reliable documentary records, and heirloom ceramics allowed for a new understanding of Raku. It was not a narrow and closed tradition limited to just one family, but a sprawling, diverse practice with international origins and a growing audience of consumers and makers. The tradition of making and using Raku ceramics reached out across Japan and became a major piece of the national heritage of the Edo period rather than the exclusive inheritance of one small group in Kyoto.

In the past two decades, the output of Raku Kichizaemon as an author has only increased, and he has made some gestures toward a more expansive imagining of the Raku tradition. In 2013 the Raku Museum published the definitive (teihon) guide to the Raku tradition: Raku rekidai: Sōkei, Amayaki, Kōetsu, Dōraku, Ichigen o fukumu (Successive generations of Raku: Including Sōkei, Amayaki, Kōetsu, Dōraku, and Ichigen). An English translation of the same book followed in 2015 with a revealingly altered title: Raku: A Legacy of Japanese Tea Ceramics. These volumes acknowledge the origins of the Raku technique in the expertise of immigrant Chinese tile makers who were familiar with low-temperature, lead-glazed techniques from the sancai tradition in Fujian. They also acknowledge the role of women in the family tradition in some documentary traces of “nun ware” (or ceramics made by Raku family women after their retirement, which involved taking Buddhist vows as nuns). These are small but important steps. Strangely, however, they also continue to contend that Raku begins with the meeting of Chōjirō and Rikyū, which is no longer tenable as a single origin point in light of the archaeological evidence.

Similarly, Kichizaemon published a book about the creativity and innovation of Kōetsu, Kōetsu kō (Thoughts on Kōetsu),45 that positions the artist in relation to the Raku family yet largely avoids the culture of copying Kōetsu’s works that became such a fundamental strand of Raku practice, inside and outside the Raku workshop throughout the Edo period and into the modern age. In short, the writings of Raku Kichizaemon—erudite, articulate, and well steeped in the heirloom materials in his own family’s collection—continue to primarily represent his vision and standpoint as an insider, as a representative of the family and indeed the orthodox tea community.

The Freer Gallery of Art’s Raku collection, by contrast, illuminates the diversity and breadth of that tradition and allows us to accurately define Raku as much more than family patrimony. Acquired amid the tumult of Meiji-period reappraisals of Japanese cultural history, Charles Lang Freer’s Raku ceramics were—we now know—relatively marginal works that probably became available in the art market at that moment because they did not quite fit the emerging definition of what narrowly counted as Japanese heritage: “original” works by individual, named creators who could be celebrated as geniuses analogous to the “Great Men” of the Western tradition. Instead, the diverse and eclectic assemblage of Raku ceramics that became part of the Freer collection perfectly captured the evolution of the Raku tradition as well as the distinctively early modern practices—collaboration with amateurs, the regular creation of copies, and the spread of the tradition beyond Kyoto—that made it such a significant form of Edo-period culture.

Author Biography

Morgan Pitelka, PhD (Princeton), is a historian of Japan and serves as the Bernard L. Herman Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. Before joining the UNC faculty, he taught at Occidental College (2002–10). His scholarship focuses on the history of late medieval and early modern Japan, with an emphasis on material culture, environmental history, and urban history. Recent publications include Reading Medieval Ruins: Urban Life and Destruction in Sixteenth-Century Japan (Cambridge University Press, 2022) and Letters from Japan’s Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries: The Correspondence of Warlords, Tea Masters, Zen Priests, and Aristocrats (with Reiko Tanimura and Takashi Masuda, University of California, Berkeley, IEAS Publications, 2021). E-mail:


  1. “Raku yaki chawan No. I,” item 9, box 59, Charles Lang Freer Papers, National Museum of Asian Art Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Gift of the estate of Charles Lang Freer, FSA A.01 (cited hereafter as Freer Papers).
  2. The piece was originally attributed to a potter in the Eiraku lineage for unknown reasons. See the object files for F1893.6ab, Freer Gallery of Art.
  3. Charles Lang Freer, pocket diary for 1895, Freer Papers.
  4. These objects were given to a variety of college and private collections, including Oberlin College, Smith College, the Indianapolis Museum, and the Gardner Museum. Freer Papers.
  5. Charles Lang Freer to Tomo Inouye (Inoue), April 8, 1902, pp. 259–61, letterpress vol. 9, box 42, Freer Papers.
  6. See Thomas Lawton and Linda Merrill, eds., Freer: A Legacy of Art (Washington, DC: Freer Gallery of Art; New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1993).
  7. “Raku yaki chawan No. I,” p. 1.
  8. “Raku yaki chawan No. I,” p. 2.
  9. Edward Sylvester Morse, Catalog of the Morse Collection of Japanese Pottery (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1900), iv. It seems likely that Morse was in fact more influenced by the personal aesthetic judgments of his advisor and mentor Ninagawa Noritane than he acknowledged. The fact remains, however, that Morse couched his explication of Japanese ceramic history in the rhetoric of Western science.
  10. As John Clark has noted, Okakura’s thoughts on culture contained what appear to be contradictions because “his own knowledge of Japanese art history was increasingly formed by a system of Hegelian dialectics that was not Japanese in origin at all.” See “Okakura Tenshin and Aesthetic Nationalism,” in Since Meiji: Perspectives on the Japanese Visual Arts, 1868–2000, ed. J. Thomas Rimer and Toshiko M. McCallum (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2012), 217.
  11. Susan M. Pearce, “Collecting Reconsidered,” in Interpreting Objects and Collections, ed. Pearce (New York: Routledge, 1994), 201–2.
  12. See my discussion of Meiji-period intellectual and scholarly trends that emphasized individualistic creativity in Handmade Culture: Raku Potters, Patrons, and Tea Practitioners in Japan (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2005), 154–55.
  13. See my discussion of the archival, archaeological, and heirloom evidence regarding Chōjirō in Handmade Culture, 13–40.
  14. Dating is unusually imprecise in the case of Raku ceramics, as I have argued elsewhere (Pitelka, Handmade Culture, 161–66). As discussed in this essay, the tradition is diverse, dispersed, and not particularly concerned with the idea of authenticity. I therefore avoid assigning narrow period names such as “Momoyama” to individual works of unclear attribution and instead attempt to broadly speculate about the possible centuries in which production might have occurred.
  15. See images of these bowls in Raku Kichizaemon 樂 吉座右衛門 and Raku Atsundo 樂篤人, Teihon Raku rekidai: Sōkei, Amayaki, Kōetsu, Ichigen o fukumu 定本 樂歴代―宗慶・尼焼・光悦・道樂・一元を含 む (Authoritative edition: successive generations of Raku—including Sōkei, Amayaki, Kōetsu, Dōraku, Ichigen) (Kyoto: Tankōsha, 2013), 11, 15.
  16. The standard Raku family clay is an aged body of high plasticity and small amounts of grog. The most recent description of Raku clays can be found in Raku Kichizaemon and Raku Atsundo, Teihon Raku rekidai, 292–93; and in English in Raku Kichizaemon XV and Raku Atsundo, Raku: A Legacy of Japanese Ceramics (Kyoto: Seigensha, 2015), 41–42.
  17. Itō Yoshiaki 伊藤嘉章, “Momoyama jidai ni okeru futatsu no kuro: Kuroraku to Setoguro ni tsuite” 桃 山時代における2つの黒—黒楽と瀬戸黒について (Two blacks in the Momoyama period: black Raku and black Seto), Museum 520 (July 1994): 4–19.
  18. Voucher no. 54, November 1900, Freer Papers.
  19. See, for example, Nagashima Fukutarō 永島福太郎, annot., Matsuya kaiki 松屋会記 (Records of the Matsuya), Chadō koten zenshū 茶道古典全集 (Collection of classics of the way of tea) 9, ed. Sen Sōshitsu 千宗室 (Kyoto: Tankōsha, 1977), 476–86.
  20. Voucher no. 20, March 1902, Freer Papers.
  21. This and the following comments come from the object files for F1902.52, Freer Gallery.
  22. See Hayashiya Seizō 林屋晴三, Kōetsu, Tamamizu, Ōhi 光悦・玉水・大樋, Nihon tōji zenshū 日本陶磁 全集 (Collection of Japanese ceramics) 22 (Tokyo: Shōwa, 1977), 45–50.
  23. See Masuda Takashi 増田孝, Kōetsu no tegami 光悦 の手紙 (Letters of Kōetsu) (Tokyo: Kawade Shobō, 1980), 127–29.
  24. For a thorough discussion of this bowl and other works attributed to Kōetsu in the Freer Gallery, see Louise Cort, “Furiiya to Kōetsu—Kōetsu chawan no shūshu” フリーヤと光悦―光悦茶碗の収集 (Freer and Kōetsu: Collecting Koetsu tea bowls), in Kōetsu—Rinpa no sōshisha 光悦―琳派の創始者 (Kōetsu: Founder of Rinpa), ed. Kōno Motoaki 河野 元昭 (Kyoto: Miyaobi Shuppansha, 2015), 311–54.
  25. Voucher no. 33, September 1899, Freer Papers.
  26. Object files, F1899.34a–c, Freer Gallery.
  27. See note 24.
  28. See Pitelka, Handmade Culture, 53–58, on Kōetsu’s collaboration with the Raku workshop.
  29. For numerous examples of such copies made in celebration of Kōetsu, see Raku Bijutsukan 楽美 術館, Suki no sakutō: Kōetsu kara gendai made 数 寄の作陶―光悦から現代まで (Ceramic making as an elegant pursuit: from Kōetsu to the present) (Kyoto, 1985). See also my essay “Back to the Fundamentals: ‘Reproducing’ Rikyū and Chōjirō in Japanese Tea Culture,” in The Culture of Copying in Japan: Critical and Historical Perspectives, ed. Rupert Cox (London: Routledge, 2007), 128–142.
  30. See the object files for F1911.388, Freer Gallery.
  31. Raku, Suki no sakutō, 117. For more details on Kakukakusai, and the relationship between Raku and the iemoto system in tea, see Pitelka, Handmade Culture, 97–103.
  32. Compare, for example, Kōetsu’s bowl “Kamiya” (figure 1 in Suki no sakutō) with “Hatsuzakura” (figure 25).
  33. On Sen Sōtan and the founding of the three Sen tea schools, see Morgan Pitelka, “Sen Kōshin Sōsa (1613–1672): Writing Tea History,” in Japanese Tea Culture: Art, History, and Practice, ed. Pitelka (London: Routledge, 2003), 86–109.
  34. See, for example, Ōhi Toshirō 大樋年郞, “Ōhiyaki” 大樋焼 (Ōhi ceramics), in Hokuriku 北陸 (The northwest), Nihon yakimono shūsei 日本やきもの 集成 (Aggregation of Japanese ceramics) 4 (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1981), 119–20.
  35. Chadō Shiryōkan 茶道資料館, Ōhiyaki rekidaiten 大樋焼歴代展 (Exhibition of the successive generations of Ōhi ceramics) (Kyoto: Chadō Shiryōkan, 1987), 56.
  36. There are several documents that record the relationship between the Ōhi kiln and the Maeda family. See the section on historical sources at the end of Ōhi Kanbei IX 大樋勘兵衛 IX, Ōhiyaki 大樋焼 (Kanazawa: Ōhi Kaga Raku Kenkyūkai, 1994), 114–57. For a summary of the founding of the tradition in English, see Pitelka, Handmade Culture, 74–76.
  37. See Pitelka, Handmade Culture, 76–77, on the founding of the Tamamizu kiln.
  38. Yasuda Kenji 保田憲司, Tamamizu yaki shi 玉水焼 史 (History of Tamamizu ceramics) (Kyoto: Yasuda Fujiko, 1974), 11–15.
  39. Nezu Bijutsukan 根津美術館 and Tokugawa Bijutsukan 徳川美術館, eds., “Omona niwayaki ichiran” 主な庭焼一覧 (Chart of the main garden kilns), in Niwayaki to han’yō 庭焼と藩窯 (Garden kilns and domainal ceramics) (Tokyo: Nezu Bijutsukan; Nagoya: Tokugawa Bijutsukan, 1979), n.p. In English, see Pitelka, Handmade Culture, 139–46; and Morgan Pitelka, “A Raku Wastewater Container and the Problem of Monolithic Sincerity,” Impressions 30 (2008): 67–72.
  40. Pitelka, Handmade Culture, 144.
  41. Kasumi Kaikan 霞会館, ed., Niwayaki oyobi hanyō 庭 焼及び藩窯 (Garden kilns and domainal ceramics) (Tokyo: Kasumi Kaikan, 1978), unnumbered figs.
  42. Hayashiya Seizō, Akanuma Taka, and Raku Kichizaemon, Raku: Une dynastie de céramistes Japonais / Raku: A Dynasty of Japanese Ceramists (Paris: Maison de la Culture du Japon à Paris, 1997).
  43. Kyoto-shi Kōko Shiryōkan 京都市考古資料館, Rakuchū Momoyama tōki no sekai—Sanjō kaiwai shutsudo 洛中桃山陶器の世界―三条界隈出土 (The world of Momoyama ceramics from downtown Kyoto: Excavated from the Sanjō neighborhood) (Kyoto-shi Kōko Shiryōkan, 1998–99). In English, see Andrew Maske, “New Advances in Tea Ceramic History: Recent Excavations of Tea Wares from Consumer Sites,” Chanoyu Quarterly 70 (1992): 8–21; and Louise Allison Cort, “Shopping for Pots in Momoyama Japan,” in Pitelka, Japanese Tea Culture, 61–85. See also my summary in Handmade Culture, 31–39.
  44. Morgan Pitelka, “Kinsei ni okeru Rakuyaki dentō no keisei” 近世における楽焼伝統の形成 (The structure of tradition in early modern raku ceramics) Nomura Bijutsukan kiyō 野村美術館紀要 (Spring 2000): 1–31, and “Tea Taste: Patronage and Collaboration among Tea Masters and Potters in Early Modern Japan,” Early Modern Japan: An Interdisciplinary Journal (Fall–Winter, 2004): 26–38; Pitelka, Handmade Culture, “Back to the Fundamentals,” and “Raku Wastewater Container.”
  45. Raku Kichizaemon 楽吉座右衛門, Kōetsu kō 光悦考 (Thoughts on Kōetsu) (Kyoto: Tankōsha, 2018).