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There’s always something wonderful waiting at the end of the drive when you’re lucky enough to join Robert Yellin on a visit to a few potters.


I met Robert many years ago when he helped to guide tour groups to ceramic areas. We’ve remained friends, and each time we visit Kyoto,I look forward to meeting up with Robert. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to call him one of the country’s leading authorities on contemporary Japanese ceramics. He runs a wonderful gallery in Kyoto close to the Philosophers Walk.  I believe anyone serious about contemporary Japanese ceramics should/must visit. It’s always a showcase for both established and emerging potters. Robert easily shares his passion and seemingly limitless knowledge of ceramics with his visitors.

This visit, he drove us to the ancient pottery area of Tamba. The potters he visits are overjoyed to see him and that is part of the fun. I enjoy seeing the work of each potter in her/his own gallery, as they chose to display it. There are always an abundance of riches to savor, admire  (and occasionally purchase!)

gallery display


spectacular interior of bowl

gallery beauty

The galleries in Tamba line the roadside  bordered by mountains just beginning to show color.The kilns hover above the galleries and above that, looking out over the Tamba plain are the homes of the potters. The homes fit effortlessly into the rural landscape. Some of their ceramic lineages go back  14 generations. It’s an astonishing legacy by American standards!

It’s a lifestyle that looks very appealing as a visitor, although I know the realities are more challenging.

awaiting the next firing of the kiln

drying persimmons

a sparse and elegant interior

A large ceramic sphere that looks like it just rolled down from the hillside

Young people in Japan aren’t buying as many dishes as did earlier generations I can only hope that somehow the old traditions survive because the richness of the ceramic traditions here contributes greatly to the quality, pleasure and aesthetic satisfaction of daily life.

Take it from one who knows!

coming down from the kiln.

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.


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