Naoki Izumi began to question his occupation as a businessman in Tokyo during the troubling economy of the late 1980s. Contemplating alternative professions, Izumi began researching ceramic communities in hopes of turning his one-time hobby into a new full-time career. This is what brought him to Echizen. Once there, he began a five-year apprenticeship under master potter, Furukawa. During this time, Izumi spent his days making his mentor’s work but devoted his evenings to perfecting and producing his own line of work. This new lifestyle satisfied his artistic desire and his fascination with wood-fire techniques.
Izumi was attracted to Echizen’s strong ceramic community and most importantly to its tradition of yakishime, (high-fired unglazed pottery). After completing his apprenticeship, Izumi built the first of many traditional anagama kilns. Izumi devotes great time planning the loading and firing of his kiln. Believing that, “Eighty percent of (the firing) success depends upon the placement of pots in the kiln.” He feels there is a careful balance between the number of pots in the kiln and the ash deposits on the surfaces of each pot. He believes that if too many pots are loaded into the kiln, the surface coloration of each piece will suffer. When stacked appropriately, the pots will exhibit his desired attribute of nuke (an area on a wood- fired pot that is partially shielded from the effects of direct ash deposits). This light ash-colored deposited on each piece contrasts nicely with other areas of heavy ash buildup.
Izumi’s approach to producing art coincides with his awareness of SuHaRi, (often referenced in martial arts). This concept instructs a student to first master the discipline, then to break from the discipline, and finally to transcend the discipline. Regarding this, Izumi has dedicated much time to learn the techniques of old Echizen ware; having mastered those skills, he is now reinterpreting traditions. Izumi looks forward to the final stage of Ri.