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1/25/2016 | Weekly Highlight:  SETO Hiroshi 瀬戸浩(1941-1994) A lost hero. Part III: Seto's legacy

Weekly Highlight: 

SETO Hiroshi 瀬戸浩(1941-1994)

A lost hero. Part III: Seto's legacy

In Mashiko village, every one knows each other. KAMODA Shoji (1933-1983) was like a big brother to him, their daughters grew up together. He knew his fellow potter friends have a hard time to support their families, Kamoda often came to visit with gifts and food. To easy his offering help, he would jokingly saying that he was a fisher man from Osaka, caught lots of fishes to share. "How many pieces do you want today, ma'am?" 

Along with Kamoda's student, Seto organized Kamoda's funeral. All of the friends, potters and neighbors came for this falling giant star! Kamoda died at the age of 49, soon after, Seto was diagnosed with lung cancer, doctors only gave him two years to live, but, he outlived doctors prediction. He lived 6 years after being diagnosed with cancer, he was very productive in the last six years. He made a statue for Utsunomiya station, in Tochigi as his farewell to his beloved vocation and city. 

One week before he passed away, he was worried about his wife and family, still he told his wife jokingly, that he had buried a jar of gold for her and his family in a secret mountain.


In 70's and 80's, we had stars to look up to. Many young graduates came to settle in Mashiko and vicinity area, such as Kasama. After Seto came to Mashiko, he built kiln. Every time he fired his kiln, all potters came to help and eat. So the wife had to prepare lots of food to feed everyone . 

KAMODA Shoji drank a lot, sang and danced, went wild, the next day he often came to apologize followed his wife's order. 

"Is it hard to be potters wife ? "  "No". 

Seto's wife keeps saying that "it was hard, but we were all happy and enjoyed".  It is not easy to be a potter/artist, Seto's wife had a shop to support the family for four years. She had to close due to enormous stress. 

"Japan was just after the war, we were defeated, but, we were full of hope & dreams. We lived in suburbs, we are supported by nature. We made Tempora using wild flowers and ate veggies from mountain. Every one was poor, we didn't care about money, all we did care about who made the best pieces". 

Potters often got together, we talked about the works, not how to make money. Some times, the kiln collapsed, Seto would run away to nearby hot spring (onsen) for 10 days and called home afterwards.


Seto travelled with his family, he and his two daughters all loved to draw. The elder daughter is an architect now works in Singapore, Malaysia. The younger one was a glass artist, now making her family. His daughters were very much inspired by their dad, when her salary man husband wanted to quit his job and go study abroad, she gladly accepted that. She believed like her father, they can live anywhere. 

Seto often asked his family the purpose in life. "I have mine, our daughters have theirs. What is yours?" Mrs. Seto was so shocked. She was shocked and reflective, determined to have purpose by learning dye and textile. Eventually, she accomplished to make two beautiful kimonos for her daughter's 20's birthday. 


Up till today, she doesn't want to sell her husbands' works, as he made works for his dream not for money. He was stripped off life, after 6 years fighting with cancer. Life is short lived, very short! He was 53! He was not sad in his last days, he was delighted that he did what he wanted. Many potters came to his funeral, they drank, and they promised to meet again in the following year. 

How long is not a matter, how to live matter.


This is our story of SETO Hiroshi who exemplifies integrity, faith and devotion, whose simple life lived with a mission! 

C.S. Jiang