Born into a family of craftsmen, Kosei Masudaya was raised with an appreciation of hand-built objects. He pursued a non-art degree at a university in Kyoto. In describing this, he laughs and states, “I quickly learned this was not the path for me.” He soon left school to pursue a life in crafts.
Once home, Masudaya looked to his family for guidance. His great uncle and potter, Juro Hayashi, introduced Masudaya to Echizen potter and archaeologist Kuemon Mizuno. Mizuno taught Masudaya to see the subtleties that transpired in different artistic periods of Echizen, such as the glossy finish on older ware compared with matte finishes of more modern pieces. Masudaya claims that he did not fully value growing up in Echizen. Mizuno’s mentorship introduced Masudaya to his heritage, enabling him to appreciate the simple forms of the coil-built storage containers of older Echizen. Masudaya was attracted to the austerity of older ware and also allowed “the beauty (the) of Echizen environment” to influence his work.
Much like his historic predecessors, Masudaya creates forms with narrow bases and wide shoulders. He transforms these ancient forms by giving architectural structure to the formerly curvilinear attributes. To further unite his work with traditional Echizen ware, Masudaya fires his pots with no glaze, solely relying on the ash deposits for surface decoration. An example of this is seen on a large pot adorning the front of Masudaya’s studio, which was fired on its side. The ash deposits drape across the body, leaving tendrils of blue and ochre, accentuating the form. Masudaya also creates forms for The Japanese Tea Ceremony, a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea. Masudaya believes, “the spirit of Echizen remains perpetually alive in the clay.”