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Raku Kichizaemon XV
Contemporary Japanese Raku Master

Raku Tea BowlRaku Kichizaemon the 15th was the son of the 14th Raku master Kakunyu (1918–1980). He studied sculpture at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts, graduating in 1973. He became the 15th Raku master in 1981.

Traditional Japanese Raku was developed the 16th century by Chojiro for use in the Japanese tea ceremony. From Chojiro’s time, there has been a succession of true Raku masters, whose duty it is to carry on the tradition. According to the custom, this line of Raku masters are the only ones entitled to call their ware ‘Raku’, however other potters around the world practice the technique none-the-less. The current Raku master is Raku Kichizaemon the 15th.

Traditional Raku is hand formed, not wheel-thrown. The sides and feet are shaven or cut with a knife or spatula, resulting in a distinctly individual form. The pieces are bisque-fired, and glazed with a low temperature lead glaze. They are then quickly refired and removed from the kiln with tongs while glowing hot.

Legend has it that the name ‘Raku’, which means ‘enjoyment’ or ‘pleasure’ came from a stamp given to the second Raku master Jokei by Emperor Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi was a connoisseur of Raku wares and had the stamp made because Jokei used a clay called 'Juraku-zuchi', which was dug from the emperors Lustgarten 'Juraku-dai'.

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