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28.Koyama Fujio

28, Koyama Fujio (from correspondence with Yoshi Shimizu, 2/07)

On Feb 25, 2007, at 1:10 PM, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. wrote:

Dear Yoshi,
You mention two ceramic scholars, Ito and Koyama. Could that be the old Koyama Fujio, whom I knew very well? He must be quite old--older than I, anyway. After her retired from the Bunkacho (pushed out actually over authenticating a fake pot) he went back to being a potter, and invited us (me and Dorothy, Nick and Sarah) to his kiln, near the old Oribe/Seto site near Nagoya. We spent a great weekend.

Best. Jim

Yoshi replies:

Yes, indeed. The older of the two was the venerable Koyama Fujio.

I had no direct contact with him as you did, but Mino-san did vis-a-vis Idemitsu's activities. Ito-san, about 60 something is the head of the Osaka Municipal Museum of the Oriental Ceramics (Toyo Toji Hakubutsukan), where one notices the gallery designs are based on Freer's.

Best,
Yoshi

Dear Yoshi,
So it really was the old Koyama. A great guy. I met him at the Freer when he came to go through the old Jap. ceramics Freer had acquired. As young curator, I had shown them to others before, but because the first director John Ellerton Lodge had hated the whole Japanese system of box connoisseurship so much, he had taken all of Freer's purchases out of their (sometimes inscribed) boxes, put the boxes in the basement where they got lost, and lined the puts up on shelves in cabinets. So when people came to look at them, they wouldn't respond much--they were used to going through the ritual of reading what was on the box, taking the pot out, unwrapping it, appreciating it. So nobody paid much attention to these pots. Then comes Koyama, to spend a week? longer? and he really saw them as pots, with a connoisseur's/scholar's/potter's eyes. He found great things among them--genuine Kôetsu teabowl, "best piece of Chôsen-garatsu I've seen," lots of others.

I used to see him at the Idemitsu when I went there, more to meet others than him, since I'm not a ceramics person. I was once invited to lunch there, the famous lunches with Idemitsu himself, and it confirmed my conviction that with Japanese food, the higher it rises (from Jap. p.v.) the less you can eat it. Very little I could manage. Strange sea life etc.

Then it was one evening, I was walking in Kyobashi area and ran into him, and we greeted each other as old friends and went out drinking and eating. And that was when he invited me and family to his kiln (we stayed in a nearby ceramicists'hotel)--he had become a famous potter again, able to sell all the contents of his kiln before it was opened, and with a lovely woman companion, I forget her name, who lived there with him. He had come to be happy and fulfilled again, after all his troubles with the Bunkacho.

Jim

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    VI Conclusion It is time to draw back and look, if not at the whole Hyakusen, at as much of him as we have managed to illuminate in this study. Dark areas remain, and doubtless many distortions, but...
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