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One of a Kind! A “Wild Child” of the Pottery World Shows Us His View of the World Through His Unique & Creative Works
post : 2019.06.28 06:00
For this article, I had the opportunity to visit the pottery studio of artist, Yoshiaki Imamura, who continues to garner attention and following among pottery fans in both Japan and abroad. Imamura-san’s creations are eccentric and definitely full of originality that when you see them once, you likely won’t forget them. I often hear people say, “I became a fan of his works at first sight.”
Simply through seeing his work, I had foolishly presumed that he was likely “difficult and hard to please,” but when I actually met him, I was pleasantly surprised and relieved that I was completely off the mark. Before I began interviewing him, he made me a cup of coffee. It tasted so good that he could be a professional barista. (It was that good, in fact, one of the best cups of coffee I’ve had in the last year.)
He says, “The containers and cups especially made for Japanese Sake are carefully made with attention to its size and thickness of the ceramic to fully enjoy them. Just like with wine, too, there are numerous varieties of glasses to enjoy their aroma and flavor. I thought, well, there should be coffee cups and mugs with attention to detail in bringing out the characteristics of the beans and their varieties…”
From coffee with depth, or those with strong acidity, and those you can enjoy its floral aroma…Imamura-san uses just the right coffee cups for the different types of coffee. As for expresso cups, he says he made about 30 varieties of them, each with different shapes, thickness, and weight.
“The shape and thickness of the upper portion of the cup where your lips meet to drink the coffee, that can change how you taste the acidity, bitterness, sweetness, depth, and other flavors, as well as the texture of the coffee. I repeatedly experimented and realized that in order to pour a rich tasting expresso with a thick layer of crema or froth, there was a specific and particular shape that was best. You can pour yourself a cup of coffee from the best beans, but to be able to truly deliver that taste, the cup you pour it in is really important. It took me five years to perfect the ideal espresso cup. That naturally made me somewhat of an expert on espresso,” he chuckles.
“I truly enjoy creating pottery,” Imamura-san says, and explains that his mind is always full of ideas and thoughts on his creations. Even when he’s not working and is out and about, he gets hints and ideas for his work. Take these door-knob cups, for example, “I was at a flea market in Portugal when I came across some door knobs. They felt great in my hand, so I thought, maybe I could use them as cup handles.”
“Even if we think we’re jumping the gun about something, I think it’s important to output what we see and absorb,” he says. He never apprenticed under anyone nor does he use Okinawan clay, or bake them in the Okinawan style ascending kilns, neither. Despite all this, what is the meaning behind continuing to create his work in Okinawa? He responded, “Okinawa is home to many people I love.”
Despite the increasing number of people relocating to Okinawa from other prefectures in Japan and various advancements due to that factor, he says that the arts is still far behind. “I want to further revitalize the art scene in Okinawa,” he adds.
Whether you’re departing or arriving, Naha Airport is the gateway to Okinawa. The works created by Imamura-san captivates those who come across them. At the shop, Dear Okinawa, they’re very enthusiastic about continuing to introduce his works to the world.
Remember though, some of his most popular works sell out soon after they’re placed on the shleves! When you see something you like, don’t hesitate to make it yours.
Address: 2F Connecting Terminal at Naha Airport, 150 Kagamizu, Naha City, Okinawa
Hours: 7:00 to 20:30
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Sachiko Tachi