Tanaka Chōjirō

Tanaka Chōjirō, born in 1516 and whose date of death is estimated to be around 1592, is recognized as the founder of the prestigious line of Raku potters, a distinction that underscores his fundamental role in the development of this unique ceramic technique. His contribution to the world of Japanese ceramics is not only limited to his creations, but also extends through the generations of Raku potters who have perpetuated and enriched this artistic tradition.

The Raku technique originated in 16th century Japan, specifically during the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573-1600), and it was Chōjirō who, along with his family, extended it to the field of tea bowls. This innovation did not go unnoticed, for in 1588, his works caught the attention of Hideyoshi, who awarded them a gold seal engraved with the word “raku” (happiness), a gesture symbolizing the recognition of his mastery and the importance of his contribution to Japanese ceramics.

Chōjirō is especially remembered for his collaboration with Sen no Rikyū, the great master of the tea ceremony, who commissioned him to create tea bowls for use in the chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony). Chōjirō’s bowls, known for their simplicity and lack of decoration, were meant to reflect the ideals of wabi, a concept that values beauty in simplicity and imperfection. These bowls, whether completely red or black, stood out for their beauty and refinement, elements that made them uniquely suited for the tea ceremony.

The Raku technique and its focus on “happiness in the accident” have captivated artists and ceramists, allowing the tradition to live on and evolve through the years. Tanaka Chōjirō not only left a legacy through his creations, but also through the philosophy and aesthetic values that permeate Raku ceramics, a tradition that continues to inspire artists around the world.

The best works in Japanese ceramics

Scroll to Top