市野耕 Koh Ichino
Gentle and soft impressions hide a stronger, more vigorous face within these ceramics, silently insisting on an everyday dining scene. His signature glazing and colouring, and “shinogi” techniques are proving Koh Ichino as a young, talented ceramicist who has been making aesthetic ceramics in Ehime Japan since 2016.
Koh Ichino was born in Tamba-Sasayama in Hyogo Japan which is the home of one of the six ancient kilns in Japan. Koh describes his home as a scenic traditional pottery town surrounded by beautiful nature; black smoke rising from the Nobori-gama kiln, built on the side of a hill is a striking feature of this area. Koh was born and raised in a family pottery environment – both his grandfather and father are also ceramists. His first experience of starting his craft goes way back to being a young child, on a summer holiday at his grandfather’s house when he cut a piece of clay, adding eyes and ears and then shaping it into a rabbit chopstick holder. Though back then he had not yet thought about becoming a skilled ceramicist when he was older.
Naturally Koh followed this path and once he had stepped into the Kyoto Ceramist Technical Institute, he was drawn deeply into the interesting and creative ceramic world. After graduating at the institution, he was fortunate to experience an apprenticeship with an established ceramicist in Kyoto. He then decided he wanted to independently create original ceramics so set up his own studio with his wife (also a ceramicist), Momoko Ishii, in her home town of Matsuyama, Ehime.
Becoming independent soon after his learning period, his own style developed and emerged after he moved to Matsuyama and after experimenting with many different clays, he continued favouring working with “Shigaraki” clay.
Once a year Koh goes back to his hometown Tambashinoyama, and enjoys kiln firing with his family at Nobori Gama (a traditional Japanese multichambered climbing kiln). When back there he uses the clay from his home town Tamba, and the clay dug out from the mountain near to his family home and Karatsu.
The fascination for us at Kotatsu of Koh Ichino’s ceramics is in showing how it can make everyday food feel and look so special. In Japanese households, we cook and serve not only Japanese, but also Chinese, Asian, Latin, European foods. His ceramics don’t have boundaries, and are perfect for making our food look simply delicious. Koh says “I don’t make plates and bowls specifically for a type of meal or recipe. If my ceramics are being used in so many different ways and occasions, that’s when I feel the biggest joy.” And actually, that must be the secret why his ceramics are so easy and pleasing to use.
When we asked what is the most care and attention required when making ceramics, Koh replied, “It has to be the perfect weight. If it’s too heavy, it’s hard to use in everyday life. If it’s too light and delicate it becomes daunting to use, so the perfect weight is really important and difficult to achieve.” He humbly explains that his signature work is “Shinogi” (a decorative technique to create ridged lines) and “glazing”; the ash glazing on the ridge lines show beautiful transformations of color and expression in the pieces and when the food is served, it has a sleek and quality feel. Koh uses Japanese pine for his characterful ash glazing, and is always willing to experiment with his original recipe.
“Recently I have started to really enjoy making tea pots. There are so many processes to go through and it’s complicated work but I can clearly see the improvement in my technique” he explained. The teapots we showcase at Kotatsu are the pride and joy of Koh’s ceramics collection.
So, what is the next challenge for Koh? “I would like to carry on my endless research for perfecting my teapots. The weight and the way of pouring, the shape of the spout, etc…these details are so important in a teapot as they all affect the taste of tea. I have so much to discover yet!” he explains. Touch every gentle and sleek faced ceramic piece and you can feel young, talented Koh Ichino’s ambition and enthusiasm reflecting back at you.