Artist Interview with Kazunori Koutsuka, Mokkobo Gen(part2 English)


I conducted an interview with Kazunori Koutsuka, who has been making wooden kitchen utensils and furniture at a workshop in Shioyamachi, Tochigi prefecture. I visited his workshop and talked with him and other three young staffs.

Koutsuka san used to play football when he was in high school, but he decided to become a wood worker after graduation. He started to learn woodworks as a temporary staff first, and worked as a wood worker and devoted himself to improving his skills at three different companies for ten years. He began his own business when he was 30.

Many of the wood workers buying lumber but Koutsuka san goes to Aizu area to see the logs directly and buying logs and he gives directions to a lumbermill. Koutsuka san said that he does those direction works to use up the materials efficiently. “Time is money” he also said. “It is important to think about “efficiency” and we can take more time to make our products.”

Craftwork is not an easy job. They learn much from experience. For example, Koutsuka san learned how to see a tree from senior people in forest industry with a lot of experience and knowledge.

However, until producing a wooden product, there so many people, time and process are needed. Roughly speaking, cutting down trees from the mountain first, and strip the bark off from a log, and then timber-conversion allocation is efficiently executed at a lumbermill and dry them until deliver. Even dry method is different in terms of kind, such as artificially drying and natural drying lumber. So, before a wood worker make his/ her works, many process passed as above.

In the case of woodwork, you cannot make the material (tree) itself. Or you cannot always find wood of his liking. That means, you need to keep a certain quantity of wood. So Koutsuka san works efficiently according tot his operation plan.

They work start from 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Koutsuka san said, “especially, you should concentrate and work hard in the morning time”. Is it about “The early bird catches the worm”? After 4:30, workshop will be open for other young staffs. They can study or make something that they want to.

Koutsuka san showed me how to make a flower petal shape coaster.
Cut roughly with a jig saw machine first.

It will be removed the bottom and side roughly.

Then, it will be polished using the machine.

Before polishing (left) and after polishing (right)

Carve into the surface of the edge with u-shaped carving knife at a steady pace.

And it will be polished by hand at the finishing process.

Becomes a wood product, there are many processes should be done with many people’s thoughts and feelings as mentioned earlier. I think that there is something fascinating about handmade products. When you touch it or use it, it’ll gives you some impression and make your life more comfortable. They put their heart into making the items. I hope you could find a special one for you from Mokkobo Gen.

Member of Mokkobo Gen
From the left; Umito Kuramochi, Kazunori Koutsuka (Representative), Shuhei Kuroko and Satoshi Sekiya

Artist Interview, Ian Hayden(part2 English)


I conducted an interview with Ian Hayden, who has been living in Japan for over 30 years and is currently working as a wood turning artist. I visited his workshop in Nikko, Tochigi.

○Please tell me what made you decide to become a professional wood turning artist?
→I started by making small items out of wood works as my hobby, and then bought a wood turning lathe and starting being a bit more creative. After seeing my work, my friends asked me to join their tent at the Mashiko Pottery Fair a few years ago, which got me started to think about becoming a professional.

○What was the reaction to your work at Pottery Fair?
→It was really good opportunity to hear impressions from customers directly, and I think this was one of the turning points that made me decide to be a professional. You could find small boxes or other woodworks at the Pottery Fair about six years ago, but wood turning was rare. People picked up my work, feeling the surfaces with their hands, and touched said, “it feels really good”. From the various comments and conversations I had, I realized then that people love both the touch of wood and its natural warmth.
In fact I had an unforgettable experience at the Pottery Fair. A lady who was the first purchaser of my work said, “This is my treasure,” and she was holding a wooden salad bowl I had made. I was so moved to know that my work could give someone so much happiness. This was an immeasurable sense of accomplishment. There are things that you can’t buy with money.

○Why did you want to work as a woodturner in Japan?
→Japan is my home. I have been living in Japan over 30 years with my wife.
Many foreigners – often on transfer through their companies – live in Japan for just four or five years, but they soon return home when their contract is over, or sometimes for the education of their children. But we both love this country and both have been working in Japan. We feel there is no reason to leave. Living in Japan is something natural for us.
Also, I think there is market potential for wood crafts in Japan. Although pottery is more popular, wooden products are unique and there are different business opportunities from those for pottery. There is also lots of good quality wood in Japan.

○Please tell me about your workshops. You have workshops in Nikko and Tokyo. What do you do in each place?
→I purchase most wood from either Yamagata or Tochigi. I keep this wood in Nikko and cut them down to appropriate sizes and take them back to Tokyo. I imagine what I should make from the piece of wood before I cut each piece.
My wife is working in Tokyo on the weekdays, so I also work at my workshop in Tokyo. And we spend time together in Nikko on the weekend.

○Can you explain the key features of your work?
→I try to make pieces that are as simple and natural as possible. I also want to show the beautiful wood grain of each piece. I think these are the key features of my work.
I think my duty is to expose the beauty from each block wood and “change” it into a wood turning product that can be used in people’s daily life. Pottery is a little different. I think of potters as “adding” work. They work the clay, making it into a shape, and add some glaze – some sort of design – on the surface by hand. In a way, woodturning is the opposite. I cut and shave the wood, and change it into a plate. I am trying not to take away too much from the natural beauty of the wood, in order to emphasize the beauty of the wood grain, its texture, and its shades of color.

○One of the obvious merits or your work as an artist is that you have both a Japanese sense, and at the same time, that of a foreigner. Actually, your wooden plates go well with Japanese pottery.
→I have been told by a customer that she likes the Japanese sense in my work. Of course, I am not a Japanese and I don’t have a native Japanese sense, but still she found some Japanese sense in my work. I think it can be said that my works are “hybrid” or a unique style.

○You haven’t studied wood turning under anybody but studied by yourself. How did you solve technical problems that you faced?
→I read many of the magazines about wood turning and watch many videos on YouTube. Those are really useful.

○What would you like to try with your work in the future?
→I am interested in simple curving and I also am thinking to make my work with different kinds of wood, mixing them together in one piece. And I always try to minimize waste as much as possible.

Thank you very much, Hayden san!
He will participate in Mashiko Pottery Fair start from November 3(Thur.) to November 7(Mon.).

Mashiko Pottery Fair


<Photos of villa and workshop>

Beautiful red gate of villa, Nikko
Hayden san and Mick
At the workshop

Cut into a small wood block
Measure the size and draw a line
Cut along the line
Using wood turning machine

Turning wood on a lathe using a skew and gouge tool
Several tools for wood turning

Ian Hayden Profile
Graduated in Geology at London University, 1982
Studied on a post-graduate research scholarship at Kyushu University, 1986
Started woodturning, 2010
Participating Mashiko Pottery Fair and holding exhibition in Kanuma and Takasaki.
Made special plate for the Nikko Toshogu (UNESCO World Heritage designated Temple and Shrines) 400th Year Shikinen Grand Festival, 2015

作家インタビュー イアン・ヘイデン(パート1 日本語)
















イアン・ヘイデン プロフィール
1982年 ロンドン大学で地質学を学ぶ
1986年 奨学金を得、九州大学大学院課程にて研究
2010年 ウッドターニング(木工旋盤)を使用した創作活動を始める

Artist Interview, Toshifumi Tashiro(part2 English)


I interviewed Toshifumi Tashiro, potter in Mashiko.
1979 Born in Miyazaki Pref.
2002   Finished Pottery Art Special Course after Graduated from Nara College of Arts, Course of Pottery Art
2002 Started to learn pottery from Seiichi Imanari, Mashiko (Tochigi Pref.)
2007 Became independent and established a pottery studio in Mashiko
*Click here for LOCCA Online Store

-Please tell me what made you start pottery.
When I was a high school student in Osaka, my friend asked me to join pottery club, which was on the verge of breaking up with the shortage of club members. Actually, it was not my own accord but I thought that pottery suits me.

-Please tell me what made you to be a professional potter.
I felt that I wanted to continue pottery when I was in high school and had to decide the course after graduate. So I entered the Nara College of Arts, Course of the Pottery Art. During my work at the college, I became to think how much I myself could do as a professional. So after graduated this junior college, I also took a special course in pottery for more two years. Rather than “job” it’s instead “professional”, I thought at that time.

-Why did you choose to learn pottery in Mashiko after graduated the college?
Before graduating from the special course, I was thinking that I should work on pottery company or became a someone’s disciple, and my college teacher introduced me a potter, Seiichi Imanari in Mashiko. Mr. Imanari used to work in Bizen (where is known as Bizen ware) mainly Yakishime pottery and I was really interested in Yakishime at that time. It required courage to decide to become a disciple. I received advice from people around me and decided to come to Mashiko. (Tashiro-san learned pottery from Mr. Seiichi Imanari for six years.)

-And why did you think to make your own pottery studio in Mashiko?
When I started live in Mashiko, I was thinking about going back to Kansai after I learn for two years. And I begun to think to have my own studio after 4-5 years passed but couldn’t decide the place, I should go back to Kansai or stayed in Mashiko. Meanwhile, a farmer introduced me a vacant house with work place in Mashiko. House was abandoned actually but the work place was really good to be a potter studio, I thought. So I decided to have my own studio there on impulse. And I’m still in this place now.


Pottery studio in Mashiko


Lay out dishes on this rack to dry in the sun



A potter’s wheel and original working desk.

Many tools.

His studio is just next to his house. He repaired the ceiling, wall and kiln place by himself.
He also designed and made worktables for his wife and himself (his wife is also a potter, name as Hiroko Suzuki) with Rokuro machine! Amazing!

The greatest feature of his work is using a hand potter’s wheel, not electric at the finishing.
He said, “This is the way from Imanari sensei. It takes time however, it remains ununiformed and the warmth of soil.”

Finishing the shape.

-Are you working with no-mindedness while you are making? And do you listen any music while working?
I really want to concentrate when I’m using a wheel but I can talk when I’m work finishing.
I wanted to have a nice audio in my studio and I did. I like to hear something smooth music during my work. I like Jazz, Hiromi Uehara, Keiko Lee, etc. or I listen to the radio.

-Now, I’d like to hear about your work again, are you thinking something you’d like to try for the next?
Yes, I have a lot of things that I want to try but it also difficult to make as I imaged. I never know until I make it. I fire once in a month in my studio. Therefore I won’t know a result one month ahead if I want to try something new. Then I modified and test again, and will see the result another one month later. So the testing is very important but I need to focus, which I should test.

-Do you take notes?
I take notes roughly when I thought something really important or idea comes up.
But I definitely take notes every time I tested, recipe of the solid, mud and glaze.

Do you cook and use your dishes? And do you ever fix your works by them?
I sometimes cook. And I change the specifications, accordingly. The touching or the smoothness will be different with the glaze or firing. Beside the tools are deeply related to the finishing, especially for Yakishime. After bake pottery in kiln, I sometimes polish it with sandpaper.

-Your pottery has a thin and simple shape, could you tell me how could you reach to this kind of shape?
I have liked that simple shape since a long time ago. I think that thin shape is also come from my peculiar habit when I using a wheel. I have tested so many times. Sometimes I could make as I just imaged but failed more than double. On the other hand, I became to think that I should develop an eye, which can notice a different good point even if it was not what I imaged. Those experiences and accidental by-products are extremely useful for making my pottery’s form now.
I have been explored and acquired my styles. And I will continue to explore to make simple but expressive pottery as long as I do this job.



作家インタビュー 田代倫章(パート1 日本語)


*田代さんの作品はLOCCA Online Storeで購入できます。


— プロの道へ進もうと思ったのは?

— その後、活動の場に益子を選んだ理由は?

— 益子で独立しようと思ったのは何故ですか?

— 意外と流れに乗るタイプなんですね。実は作品がきちんとした感じなので、もっと性格も几帳面な方なのかと・・・








— 昔から器用でしたか?

— 作っている最中は無心ですか?



— 作業中は音楽などかけますか?

— やっている作業によって音楽のジャンルはかえますか?

— 陶芸以外には何か好きなことはありますか?

― 例えば今度はこういうことを試してみよう、とかも考えていたりしますか?

— 目の前にその結果が出るまでの時間が、陶芸の場合は長いですよね?

— メモやノートをとっていたりするのですか?

— 器は化学反応ですから無限にその組み合わせがあると思うのですが?

— よくうつわは使ってみないいとわからないといいますが、田代さんご自身はお料理されますか?またそれで変えてみるということもありますか?





1979年 宮崎に生まれる
2002年 奈良芸術短期大学陶芸専攻科卒業
2002年 今成誠一氏に師事
2007年 益子にて独立

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