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Ken Sakaguchi is a Japanese ceramic artist living and working in Nagano, Japan.  After he earned his BFA from Meisei University, Tokyo with the Arts of Potter, he built Ken Sakaguchi Pottery. In his studio he was able to create his own unique style; it was very important to Ken that he integrates some of the ancient Japanese traditions into his contemporary ceramic works.  His art reflects and captures the Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, a worldview centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection, as well as the flow of life.

Sakaguchi had his first solo exhibition at Nihonbashi Takashimaya Gallery in Tokyo in 2006. Since then he has been continually exhibiting at numerous galleries from Hokkaido (northern region) to Kyusyu (southern region).  Ken's artworks have been in such high demand that his studio can never have enough of his prominent ceramic works.  in addition, Sakaguchi attracted international interest and has been having many inquiries from outside of Japan: “It's exciting,  I would like to introduce my artworks both inside and outside of Japan.  There are many variations of color and styles in Japanese pottery.  My products are not specifically following any of them but are the result of my own style based on traditional Japanese pottery techniques."   


S.E.A. recently interviewed Ceramicist -Artist Ken Sakaguchi about his art practices and methods.

Question:  Does your work represent any particular region or time in Japanese geography and history?  

Ken Sakaguchi:  “Oribe ware that appeared in the Momoyama period (1574–1600), freedom of paintings and balance.


Question:  What kind of clay materials do you use?

Ken Sakaguchi:  “The soil is mainly red soil containing iron.  I mix commercially available soil with the excavated soil.  The red clay is coated with white clay to carve patterns and draw pictures.”

Question:  What temperature do you fire to? 


Ken Sakaguchi:  “The baking temperature is around 1230 degrees.  I am using a kerosene kiln.”


Question:  How long does it take you to make your work?

Ken Sakaguchi:  “If the work is a sake bottle, I make 6 or 7 potter's wheels a day and shaping it to finish the pattern.  I do make a lot of the works, put them in a kiln, bake them at 1,472 degrees Fahrenheit (800 degrees Celsius) unglazed, then glaze them, and bake them again at about 2,246 degrees Fahrenheit (1,230 degrees Celsius).  I don't know exactly how long it would take to make one, but it will take a couple of months to complete.”


Question:  Do you sketch your ideas before throwing clay?

Ken Sakaguchi:  “I don't do any sketches.  While touching the clay,  I do imagine freely,..  And I tend to be conscious about making it without thinking as much as possible.”


Question:  What type of sculpting tools do you use?

Ken Sakaguchi:  “The tools I use when making a simple shape with a potter's wheel and carving a pattern are only bamboo skewers, needles, and a small canna to finished. "

Question:  Did anyone inspire you to become an artist?

Ken Sakaguchi:  “There are some potters who have influenced me...  "Shoji Kamoda".  The retrospective exhibition I saw at Tokyo Station Gallery in September 2005 was wonderfully moving and exciting.  He is a writer who has been seen in books and catalogs over and over again.”


Question:  How are your ceramics different from other artists' ceramics?

Ken Sakaguchi:  “I think the feature is the originality of the pattern.  At first glance, it looks like a traditional pattern, but humorous, mischievous motifs are drawn.  By deepening the carving, the glaze with a lot of ash components collects in the groove and flows, and the pattern and glaze make it look like a living work with a fresh movement. ”


Question:  Are some of your methods and tools OLD and TRADITIONAL?

Ken Sakaguchi:  “I love old artworks, old pottery, and antiques, so I enjoy looking at the older works in museums and books.  I try to create my own style with my favorite old parts, and I hope it can mix well without any conflict... a work that feels nostalgic somehow but modern.”

Question:  Are some of your methods tools NEW and CONTEMPORARY?

Ken Sakaguchi:  “I try not to be conscious of trends and other's new artwork so much.  I feel not very comfortable creating something that I have never seen before.  I'm more comfortable to learn from the old ceramics and I hope my gratitude of being alive right now would naturally appear in my work.”

Question:  Are your ceramics suitable to drink from?

Ken Sakaguchi:  “Of course, I want you to actually use it.  You can use it for drinking.  One of the reasons I chose the ceramic art path was that I love the fact these are artworks but useful and very close to our everyday life"

Question:  Do the objects as designed get too hot to hold for drinking hot liquid?

Ken Sakaguchi:  “Yes, it's okay to put hot and cold things that you normally use.”

Question:  Do you drink coffee or tea during your workday?

Ken Sakaguchi:  “I drink coffee during work.  With the work I made!”

July 2021 

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