Murata Gen 村田 元 Japanese, 1904-1988

Murata Gen grew up with the earth in a farming family in the Ishikawa prefecture located next to the Sea of Japan. He studied classical painting in Kyoto until he entered the Kansai Bijutsu Gakuin (Kansai Art Academy) in 1922. However, the war shattered his dreams of being a painter. His journey towards ceramic pottery was heavily influenced by his first encounter with a folk craft exhibition showcasing Mashiko wares in 1934 in Matsuzakaya, Tokyo. It was then that he had decided to relocate permanently to Mashiko in 1924. He especially followed in Hamada Shoji’s footsteps and apprenticed under Hamada, whose Mashiko pottery he greatly admired. He debuted his first solo exhibition in 1955 at Izumi Kogei craft shop, Tokyo, and at last, Murata was consummated as a Mashiko potter. Murata’s mastery over traditional glazes such as Nuka (rice-husk), kaki-yu (persimmon), and various iron glazes are frequently displayed in a scrolling pattern over his functional clay wares. In 1985, the Tochigi prefecture awarded him for his artistic contribution by designating him a prefectural Person of Cultural Merit, or bunka korosha 文化功労者.