Deze foto van Kawai Kanjiro naast zijn climbing kiln hangt in het kleine, beetje achteraf gelegen Kawai Kanjiro Memorial Museum in Kyoto.

Shoji Hamada over Kawai Kanjiro’s werkwijze en zijn huis: ‘Kawai was influenced by things; he was an appreciator of things, yet they continue their own independent existence. Books, Kawai’s works, as well as collected objects were carefully arranged and kept spotless. Love towards and from articles helped create an unique atmosphere of busyness, which prevailed throughout his place, and you could not tell his studio from his drawing room or display room. It was the same when he was a youth living in a boarding house. There he neatly displayed his books and works, though without shelves; the room served as his studio as well.
Apparently Kawai was fully satisfied and pleased with things he received, rather than taking things from others and putting them to practical use. Probably not a few people who visited Kawai’s learned how to love things.
I have known few artists who incorporate what impresses them into their own works more promptly and with greater enthusiasm and aptitude than Kawai did. For instance, he asked someone to copy a Korean inkstone for him, but he could not wait until it was completed, and started making it himself, using the clay he was familiar with. In two ore three months, using different techniques, he came out with more than one hundred inkstones, including a few dozen different types.
Constant changes in techniques and form to create new works involve technical difficulties, but Kawai seemed to enjoy such challenge in the same way as enjoying sports. He met each challenge with renewed enthusiasm.
A change of clothing is not always followed by internal change. Constant effort to improve the outside does not always help improve the content. An artist who starts his career at the age of forty or fifty has no alternative but to do what he wants in the way suited for him.
Any person who is good in receiving things like Kawai should actively digest and turn those things he has received into his own work. I wish Kawai had explored a way for individual artists that may be called the modern tariki-do – the Way of Receiving a Power from Without. It is pitiful to see many artists today wearing out their nerves by becoming too sensitive to minute differences. There is too much fearful chasing of the unusual or quaint in people’s striving to say something ‘individual’. I strongly hope for the great broad way of crafts where an artist achieves his work instinctively and receives – then returns what he likes.’ *

Bij de entree van het Kawai Kanjiro Memorial Museum is onder andere We Do Not Work Alone van Yoshiko Uchida te koop (, waarin een mooi beeld wordt geschetst van Kawai Kanjiro op basis van haar gesprekken met hem en zijn zoon Hiroshi. ‘It is ultimately faith that lies at the bottom of all my work,’ he said to me one day. ‘We do not work alone. Man can make a bowl of clay. He can make it round and smooth, but until it is fired it cannot be used. Man can lay the fire and light the flame,’ he added, ‘But still it is the fire itself that really completes the bowl. And that fire is something bigger and more wonderful than any man.’ **

* In: Hamada. Potter, Bernard Leach (Tokyo/New York/San Francisco, 1975, p. 108-109)
** In: We do not work alone, Yoshiko Uchida. (Kyoto, 3de editie, 2017, p. 14)