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4/12/2015 | Weekly Highlight: KOJIMA Kenji

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KOJIMA Kenji

    

          OKAKURA Kakuzo 岡倉覚三 (1863-1913), a most celebrated Japanese scholar and the author of The Book of Tea, once insightfully pointed out that, in Japan, "there has always been abundant energy for the acceptance and re-application of the influence received." Ceramicist Kenji Kojima illustrates this characteristic through his creative works that repurposeand reimagine traditional sources into poetic and playful modern ceramics. 

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Born in 1953, Kojima happily made traditional Iga pottery at Iga City for the bulk of his career beginning in 1972. Recently, however, he discovered the poetry of Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 (1644-1694), whose words inspired Kojima to adapt a new style in the spirit of the traditional Haiku. Basho became one of the most famous Japanese Haiku poets by traveling on foot all over the country sharing his poems, which were often autobiographical or about the beautiful places he had seen on his travels. 

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In Edo period, common people were only allowed to wear the most basic colors, such as blue, gray, or brown, because the feudal government wanted to make sure that the lower classes did not show any signs of wealth or power. However, in small acts of rebellion, common people began lining their kimonos in fashionable patterns as a private statement of individuality and power. These playful stripes by Mr. Kojima remind us of those secret fashion statements from Edo period.  Just imagine a common traveler tucking up the corner of their kimono to reveal this colorful pattern!

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C.S. Jiang