Juko - Kuniaki Aiba
Juko is silent and puzzling. I met him for the first time when there was a ”sake night” at the local restaurant. Juko, Hidemi and Eimei were celebrating the opening of the new exhibition they hold together at a gallery in town. Just like their fathers, Koyo, Shuuhou and Youzan, they are friends and have been so since childhood. But even so, they have never sat foot in one each others studio. Thats a rule in Tokoname, as a potter you dont check out each others tools and gear. Juko is the youngest member of the fellowship, borned 1973, and understands english very well. He continues the production of his father Koyo’s company in his name. Koyo San is still involved, even though he now only make a few pots. But Juko also makes pots under his own brand. In times when most other potters choose to specialize, Juko goes the broad way. He does not say no to many orders. He keeps the pages in the Tokoname catalogue updated, from which wholesellers submit their orders. But also sells on site to customers from the store as well as attending fairs. Now he is also carefully starting to sell internationally through a retailer. "I'd love to come over to any big convent in europe" He says. The growing bonsai interest internationally has not attracted enough attention in Japan, but slowly they start to realize that there is a big market overseas. Today he focus a lot in shohin and in the future he would like to develop unglazed models in Tokoname clay and also work more with the throwing wheel. Of all the bonsai potters that have come and gone over the years, only about ten of them remain in Tokoname. All of them have managed, maybe due to that they kept distinctive styles. And after meeting both Koyo and Juko, I can say that they have done just that, and that they probably will be the last man standing. Their motto sounds. "Take your time.”
Some of Juko’s pots at the Koyo kiln gallery.
Juko with his mate Eimei at the exhibition they held together with Hidemi at Ceramall in Tokoname.
Plates in Jukos blue version of the famous Koyo oribe. Magical.
Some of Juko’s pots at the exhibition. A wide range of classical Tokoname glazes.
Thank you so much Juko for letting me visit, and thank you all who took your time to read this.
Read more and view more of Juko pots at: http://www.topshelfbonsaipots.co.uk/juko.html