CIBI invites you into the intimate studio of Yoshiaki Niguma, sole craftsperson and owner of Kayo-sansui pottery. CIBI family friend, Kayo-sansui is located in the township of Toyono, Okayama.


Okayama Fest
Meet the Maker Q&A

CIBI recently undertook a road trip across the beautiful landscape of Okayama Prefecture, Japan to Meet the Maker of our favourite Okayama designers, craftspeople and manufacturers to reveal the stories behind the products we are proud to share at Okayama Fest.

Kayo sansui owner Yoshiaki-san and CIBI sit down for a chat

 How long have you been making pottery?

Yoshiaki-san I started in 1976, so I have been making pottery for nearly 50 years. I went to Osaka Art University and majored in pottery. But my goal was to work in the design industry. I grew up in Toyono town and went to the same primary school as Meg (co-owner of CIBI) but about 30 years before her! From junior high school I moved to the city.

CIBI What does a typical day in the studio look like for you

Yoshiaki-san First thing I do is clean the studio from about 8am. I can usually make 100 pieces in the day. Always trying to meet the deadline, so it is important to work out the schedule. When I was younger and when I had a big deadline to meet, I could keep making pieces throughout the night. Back in the 90s, it was very busy period of making both small to large pieces. During my break I like to listen to music and read a book, before I return to the studio and carry on my work. I do not drink much coffee anymore.

CIBI What materials from Okayama prefecture do you use in the making of your work?

Yoshiaki-san Although I am not using clay from Okayama, I like to use clay from Shigaraki and Hiroshima, I do mix some other materials into the clay such as some tiny stones from my property. I create my own glaze as well, in particular I like the white glaze.

CIBI Can you explain how kayo-sansui pottery is fired?

Yoshiaki-san The process starts by making the object and let it dry. I then fire at a lower temperature before adding the glaze. The final firing is at 1230°C to 1250°C.

CIBI What type of kiln do you use?

Yoshiaki-san I have both a gas kiln and a traditional wood fire kiln. The fuel I use for the wood fire kiln is Japanese pine which is called Matsu. This requires 3-4 people working as we take turns to put more Matsu into the kiln to maintain a consistent temperature.

CIBI How long is the firing process?

Yoshiaki-san With a gas kiln I fire the pieces in the kiln for 20-24hrs. This is because I am trying to remove as much moisture as I can.

CIBI How is your work received in your community?

Yoshiaki-san My work can be seen across the community, which makes me proud. I have made several public pottery wall, for the local council, nursing home, state government buildings

CIBI How do you feel when our CIBI Melbourne community enjoy your works in their homes?

Yoshiaki-san I am very grateful and very happy to hear the pieces are sold in Australia. I was worried first how they might be received. I’m really happy now they are used and loved by many Melburnians.