Jusetsu Miwa was born in Hagi in Yamaguchi Prefecture, in the 43rd year of the Meiji period (1910). In Showa 58 (1983), he was designated as a Living National Treasure because of his expertise as a craftsman of Hagi ware.
After graduating from junior high school, he studied under his older brother, the 10th Kyusetsu, at the Miwa kiln, one of the best kilns for Hagi ware. After he was designated a Living National Treasure (following his older brother), he renamed himself Jusetsu. He is now 96 years old, but still an active potter.
Jusetsu Miwa took over 'kyusetsu white', a glaze made from straw ash, which had been acquired by his brother. With this glaze, he introduced something new to Hagi ware and established his own quite different style. It is true that he inherited the 400-year-old tradition of Hagi ware, but his works are far from just imitations. Indeed, they are so original as to attract worldwide admiration.
Manji Inoue was born in Arita in Saga Prefecture in 1929. In 1995, he was designated as a Living National Treasure because of his work with white porcelain ceramics.
In 1945, he studied the technique of white porcelain ceramics under Kakiemon Sakaida and Chuzaemon Okugawa. In 1958, he worked for the Prefectural Arita Kiln Institute and researched ceramics and glazes.
White porcelain requires that the vessels and objets produced have perfect shapes. White porcelain ware itself does not depend on decoration, while the shape itself must express neatness, warmth and dignity. Superficial techniques or camouflage will be scoffed at in white porcelains.
Mr Inoue says that 'a figure itself is a pattern'. He has pursued the craft of genuine porcelain through his expertise on the potter's wheel. 'Excellent works do not involve any idle thoughts: only technique and feeling'. He is still now sitting in front of his wheel and will not compromise over a single distortion.
Mamoru Nakagawa was born in 1947 in Kanazawa district, Ishikawa Prefecture. In 2004, he was designated as a Living National Treasure for his copper-casting and metal inlay techniques.
After graduating in fine art from Kanazawa College of Art in 1974, he was apprenticed to Kaishu Takahashi, a metal craftsman and studied copper casting and the traditional skill of metal inlay. In addition to learning traditional techniques, he also experimented with various materials, such as 'tagane', and mastered his own techniques to create original contemporary pieces. Whereas traditional cast metal vessels tended to be monotone, Nakagawa introduced color and brought a fresh sensitivity to the craft.
Nowadays, Nakagawa works as a professor at Kanazawa College of Art and as a director at the college's research section where successors to the craft are instructed.
Kakiemon Sakaida was born in 1934 in Arita, Saga Prefecture, and graduated from the Nihonga (Japanese Painting) Department of Tama Art College, Tokyo.
In 1983, he succeeded to the title of 14th Kakiemon. In 1984, he won the Japan Ceramic Association prize and, both in 1986 and 1992, the Japan Handicraft Association encouragement prize at the Japan Traditional Handicraft Exhibition.
In 2001, he was designated as a holder of an Important Intangible Cultural Asset (Iroe pottery), and a Living National Treasure. Now, he is director of the Japan Handicraft Association, a leading member of the Japan Handicraft Association West Branch and a professor of art at the Kyushu Industry Graduate School.
Kakiemon was the name awarded to the first ceramicist in Arita, Hizen country, who developed Iroe-jiki porcelain. Kakiemons are famous for the unique styles of Iroe ware: with red glaze, or with a milk-white ground and bright, vivid overglazed decoration. Their Iroe ware are both splendid and graceful, elegantly employing blank spaces. The work of various Kakiemon has influenced Meissen pottery in Europe and Jingdezhen pottery in China.
Kakiemon Sakaida says: 'I have made new dishes and designs, but pottery for daily use is more difficult to make than art.' He has always endeavored to follow his clients' wishes when creating new work. He currently makes decorations based on strawberries or foxtails.