When asked about her work, Yasumi Hattori reveled a fable about the clay itself. According to Hattori, the story began over two million years ago when a volcano erupted, spewing fire and ash everywhere in Echizen. Over time the ash, mixed with soil and rocks, settled on the bottom of a lake. After thousands of years and numerous geological events, the clay was thrust from the bottom of the lake to just below the surface of the ground. This clay, alone for many years, was waiting to be discovered and shaped by the potter’s hand. Hattori believes the key to the heart of Echizen lies in understanding the collaboration between the living clay and the potter.
Like the clay, Hattori was not initially ready for pottery. Originally from Takefu, near the Echizen pottery village, Hattori moved to Tokyo after college. She spent ten years there selling furniture. Fed up with the city lifestyle, yearning for significant work, and ready for a change, she moved back to her home to study pottery. Hattori learned ceramics at the Industrial Technology Center in Fukui Prefecture. Today, she is an instructor at that same training center.
Hattori devotes much of her work for use in the tea ceremony. Studying the aesthetics and philosophy of the Chado (the way of Tea), Hattori makes it a priority to attend at least one ceremony a week. She does this to internalize proportions and colors of the many objects used in a tearoom. Both Oribe and Shino ceramics also inspire Hattori. An example of this inspiration is the basket pictured. This graceful pot used to hold sweets for the tea ceremony seems incomplete unless shown holding food. Hattori chooses each element of her creative process with the same care as she does the clay deriving inspiration from each in her work. She stated “there are five necessary factors for all living things in nature: soil, water, fire, wood, and air. All these factors are integrated in Echizen-Yaki.”