Shiro Tsujimura

Shiro Tsujimura is the creator of Japan’s most beautiful tea bowls. I didnt know what I was in for, I didnt know we were going to his house, much less, having lunch prepared by the man himself.


And this became one of the most powerful meals I have in my life.

We sat down and chatted. We were in his house in Nara, this he built from materials in the forest. He said, “the only thing i bought were the glass for the windows.”

There was a fireplace, he boiled water from. When it was time for lunch, he added a grill, and toasted the wagyu, then sliced off the top parts, dipped in a sauce and served our plates.

His wife was preparing food in the kitchen , we could hear the sounds of oils popping on the pan, but so gently.

She brought out food and more food, softly. Gently.

There was always a smile, on their faces, even in the midst of preparing food. We spoke, I have too many questions I need him to address, I didnt have time to listen to the translation on his answers, I fired.

I didnt understand what he said, but i seemed to know and I had to cry.


We ate from the bowls derived from his creative processes. These bowls, when they came out of the kiln, would be placed on the ground in the hills he lived in.

These pieces would receive rain, wind, sun, dust, scattered on the hills.


Letting an act of man ferment in the nature’s elements and allowing nature to nurture man’s work.


He says, “I don’t really like the term of “art”…When other people look at it, it’s art to them, but… To me, it’s part of my life, and everything is the same. If you look at the writing on the wall, I think it is a buddhist thinking, it means literally “not knowing”. IMG_7123

“When the monk asked me what will happen after death, I replied that I don’t know, and I really don’t know. So what will you do when you die? I really don’t know. What I know is I only want to do things that I like during the time when I’m alive. So when you die, whether it’s the end or whether there’s heaven after that, there are religions with answers to that. But actually, it really matters down to what you can do during the time when you are alive. I really like this idea of ignorance is bliss.  “

We spoke about beauty, and what this means to him.

“Beauty is a very difficult concept. Dirty things can also be beautiful, for example, when people look at this, they might think it looks dirty, but I think it is beautiful. I think different people have different concepts of beauty, because it depends on each individual. A bowl that can be looked at for hours for its beauty, that’s what I hope to make. Something fascinating is this space inside the bowl, something that exists in the bowl.”


We spoke about perfection or rather, the imperfection of it.

“Perfection is a little different. Perfection is more of a concept by imperialism and China, which depends on a degree of likeness. But for Japan and Korea, the beauty of imperfection is what we aspire to achieve. This might be unique to the Japanese, but this concept of imperfection has always existed in Korean pottery, and the Japanese thought well of it, which is why we brought in the pottery. I’m not sure how the modern Koreans think now, but during that time, they had this concept of imperfection, and they used the bowls for tea drinking. For pottery making, Japanese people have always seek for the beauty of imperfection, and not perfection.

There are also perfect products, but to me, I don’t really like them.”

And what is important in life?

“The important thing, is to do something that you like. It is not listening to someone, but continuing to believe in what you want to do. Of course, I would like to make something that people would like to use. It is not so much of a message, but I would like people to enjoy using the bowl, with the same feelings that I have.”

He was into painting, but a temple stay changed his path completely.

“I was at the temple for the purpose of meditating. About 3 years. I was meditating, and they had this kind of bowl which they ate with, such as ramen. The monk commented that meditation is similar to the process of bowl-making. I then began to have interest in making the bowl, and it slowly developed into my interest in pottery. The process of bowl-making is similar to meditation, with your thoughts free.

Spiritually, they are similar. Whether mediation or making a bowl or two, it takes the same spirit and mind to do it.”


The bowl is a representation of space and the mind, and I find the tea bowl very interesting. Till Now, I m still making them. It’s not really the art form, but a form of lifestyle. I want to continue making tea bowls.


When you finished making a bowl, you start to think of making a better one, so you end up with making thousands of them. So it is actually wanting to make a bowl at a time, and then making another, and another…


For him, the most enjoyable time…  is forming the shape at the potter’s wheel…


He says, “The difficult part about Japanese pottery is, if you get better in your skills, your product will become boring.  So you do not try to perfect your skills, but try to create what you want. I think this is difficult, because it is not something that you can work hard for.

You cannot neglect your own feeling and just focus on making a perfect product. Following your feelings, your skills will also improve.”

The advice is awesome for anyone into craft and creation.


He has about 7 little workshops on his little hill stead. Each is devoted to a different art form.



His son followed his path, remarkably, without being “taught” by the man himself.

According to Kai Tsujimura, “My dad is not the type to teach a certain thing. Of course I started making pottery because of my dad’s great influence but all along, the pieces were used normally at home…So when we had our meals, we used these bowls and those plates as per normal…My father’s pottery pieces were in our actual lives.. If not for that, I don’t think i would have started making pottery. “

And when I asked the elder Tsujimura, he said, “the most important thing i have taught my son? No I haven’t. If there is one thing, that is to just “make it”. Make as many as necessary. It is not necessary to think of other matters.  If there is something that he wants to make, just make it.”





Art, is not what you see, but what you make others see.

—-Edgar Degas



Toko Shinoda and art in her life 

Although she also works in lithograph, Shinoda often chooses to use brush and sumi ink, exacting materials that don’t afford the luxury of backtracking or revisiting strokes. Where oil painting, like prose writing, is the result of contemplative, cumulative composition, art made with ink is immediate and of the moment, perhaps more akin to playing a musical instrument. The paper instantly drinks the ink, making the medium a superconductor for the intent, even the personality, of the artist. For this reason painting with ink requires great poise, and the act itself is a kind of performance of which the marks become the record.

—– Toko Shinoda and art in her life http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2017/04/13/arts/104-toko-shinoda-talks-life-art/#.WPBN125GSEd








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I m my own unique self.

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In emptiness, you will find fullness.

最近不断接触到空的概念。从andre chiang在塔斯马尼亚跟我说他如何回到原点,从高峰让自己回到原点这件事。



My art journey





Defining & Redefining



Opening Up


Me & My Loves





On This Journey


Coming Together


What’s there to fear?






The very essence of Me




Like a flower


Light. 怀皓




Inner child’s lollipop






Ahead. Personal Growth


Open Up




Receiving Blessings








Yen’s drawing for me



Art, to b continued

Just as everything in life, my art teacher Yen announced that she will b stopping her practice due to someone else occupying the space she is using now.

And I have to accept that.

It came in a whirlwind.

I felt stumped n seriously , a bit lost. What m I to do now, when I need a listening ear ?

I have to be on my own now, I heard myself say, after going through art therapy with her for the past 3-4 years.

I have to be on my own.

It reflected how much I depended on her , she was someone I could depend on in times of need, in my darkest of all days, she hears my out with all her heart. Then she pointed out to me things that would otherwise not be apparent to me.

She helped my become myself, a better me, stronger, more courageous, a me-ier me. An honest me.
She brought the me in me out.

And she prepared me for today n my future.

And so, I find that letting go is not hard to do, because both of us gave our very all, when we exchanged our ideas. We were fully present to each other.

I couldn’t help but think of how I climbed up these flight of steps when I was heavily pregnant with Hao each time I saw her. I climbed those steps.


I felt a tinge of sadness it was to b the last. But I told myself to SAVOUR each n every climb.

Then it was art time.

She brought all my works n asked if I would like to take a peek.

I sort of did that . Briefly, I saw mostly v beautiful colours . Many of those , I had forgotten. Like a pacifier I did, I remembered I did it, but the thoughts behind, were long past me.

It didn’t matter anymore. It’s an important lesson, because then I have my fullest attention to these thoughts. And so in life, give full attention to what we go through, no matter what.

But still, the tears came.

I heard myself:

“You r awesome”

Yen asked: “Do u know why u cry?”

Of course.

I looked at the pile of my works, lots of circles. Lots of bright lovely colours.

It just shoots the aches n pains right into the heart again.

What a lot of shit ! I said.

That was a lot of shit. Just as light is apparent in the dark, the pretty colours belied the darkness I went through. It was as if, the prettier, the darker.

I told her.

Life is hard, it is so hard.

I consider myself already so lucky. What about all the others who did not get the chance I did? Life is so hard n so hard for them. What about life for them?

Once and again, big n little, life really is a struggle.

I saw how the darkness turn into light, into bright colours, how much energy it must take for this translation to happen.

And it’s amazing. I still do not know how I managed that .

What a lot of energy, so much hard work n effort in there!

As usual, she heard me. And in fact, she told me about her darkest past she never told anyone else. I think we switched sides in that moment. I think it was healing for her too to confide in another.

Then I requested her to draw something for me as I did my artwork.

I drew a big pink flower which has grown from the soil. With a bright yellow centre, radiating green n blue circles outwards to pink. Which then radiates yellow out.


I told Yen that I want to curate my life from now. To select with care and wisdom what n who comes in.

The flower that is pink on the outside has actually more depths than pink.

It has healing blue n natural green n a source bright yellow, it’s life force and driving energy.

That which allows it to transform and translate all it takes from the earth, good n bad to all that is beauty.

And the guiding principle is that everything is whole. No matter what, because conditions are present .

I still do not know how I did it, the translation each time of difficulties to bright beautiful flowers.

But I guess it must have been the bright yellow centre that is helping me with this.

And the day after, whilst waiting for the bus and looking at the the patch of green grass, I got my answer.

Nature does it too, flowers trees plants. They all are capable of this, we take all the difficulties and translate beauty out.

This is the very essence and ability of all life forms . We just needed to dig deep enough to search for that natural force within us all.

And then Yen added, and so that is why she drew this.

A baby holding a bodhi leaf in her hand. In a womb or circle, which is a flower.


She says to me, that she doesn’t get many requests like that and she thinks that is me.

“You have great strength although you always cry. Every time you are pushed to the edge you bounce back and help yourself thru. You are v big hearted, you have a beautiful mind. Many times, I feel you are an inspiration to me. I hear you and I really do. Sometimes I think you are like a mirror to me. I think it’s not by chance that you have this life, the gift to write, and have 2 beautiful children. I think there must be a reason behind this all. “

And that marks the end of a few years of art therapy.

But she says, I think we will meet.
I say, yes if conditions are present.

It makes me feel that good, this flexible malleability that doesn’t hinge on desire. It brings to mind again this importance of being fully present once again for another. So when it is time to let go, you only have feelings of fullness and blessings for the other at heart.

Walking out of the room, I felt noticeably lighter. It was as if I m born again, armed with a lighter body ready to take off on my own.

As if I have left my past too.

I told yen I do not remember most of the works, I guess in the art pieces that I did, I must have taken full responsibility for all those strong emotions. That was why. I allowed them to be with me, I was with them n after that, they freed me.

It has been a remarkable journey of growth and self discovery.




Open and pervious


I enjoy art more n more.
I told yen about how I carried haohao in my arms n we observed a little worm hanging down from a tree.
Or, enjoying the pretty blooms. And touching the dew drops on the leaves of bushes.

It completed the process of the last art session.
It made the creative process more organic as if it had form n definitely gave the whole session more depth.
I got the inspiration that any creative process is completed only when a response is invited, like when the keyboard is pushed down n a sound is heard. Or like a writing which touches someone ‘s life.

The completion of the creative process brings about a sense of healing n whole ness to the being.

Today I m asked to create what I like to feel or see.

I thought of QinZhi . When QinZhi didn’t know how to draw, I would say, draw the picture that you see in your heart. It would b a gift of the heart n would b beautiful.

I wanted and liked the idea of openness n opening up. I think the very act itself–of opening up speaks volumes of grace, courage n wisdom.

It takes a lot to open up n to accept n to allow yourself to be.

So I drew a peony that saw on a Facebook page. The peony is pretty n blooms because it is not afraid or stopped by its vulnerability or transient temporary nature . It is not afraid of the world.

And how to draw the peony I saw?

I just had it in my heart n tried to get it out.

I m reminded about the small dishes that swim by me in Maldives n Phuket . As well, the tiny green plants I saw in hangzhou.

It didn’t matter that they were that small. They just took the world the waves on sportingly n in good spirit .

They were open n at ease with their nature.

Nothing was contrived nothing was made up .

I m v inspired by these little or the tiniest forms of life.

Just be .

Being .

So much wisdom in there.

So the flower opened up n received blessings like the rain n all the goodness.

There was a golden centre that is unaffected , firm n solid, unchanged by it all.

Just observing .

And it is this energy that is giving the flower it’s blooms.

How I love art