"Hasemusi" is one of the old names of a place in the south-west of Onojo City, Fukuoka Prefecture. The area is associated with pottery and is home to the largest group of Sue ware kilns in Kyushu. These were in operation for about 400 years, from the 6th to the 9th century, and the excavated remains alone number some 200 kilns. One of these is the Hasemushi Kiln Site Group, which is thought to have been an important group of government-owned kilns that supported the mass consumption of Sue ware in Dazaifu during the peak of kiln operations in the 8th century when the Dazaifu Government Office II was established.

I have chosen the name of this workshop out of respect for the fact that I am able to make pottery in this area, while holding on to the romantic notion that my ancestors may have been potters as well.

Tsuneharu Tanaka 

(Born in 1971 , Japan)

Hasemsi Kiln, Chief Director

Graduated from Fukuoka University and Arita Ceramic College

The pure form of neriage, wheel throwing with coloured clay, is beautifully demonstrated in the works of Tsuneharu Tanaka. Focusing on the seemingly infinite variety of vase shapes, he has also incorporated an appealing surface texturing technique into his production style. A typical piece starts out as a vertical stack of discs made from three types of clays, black/gray with white, or red/browns with white, which are then centered and compressed on the wheel. The resulting cylindrical form is then opened up with a “sasibou” wooden tool. Traditional throwing techniques are used to create the final form. When the clay is leather hard it is scraped with a metal rib to bring out the swirling multi-clay patterning distinctive of neriage and then textured with a metal tool, the “tobikanna” as the wheel is turning. In English this type of texture is called “chattering”. This texturing adds yet another dimension to Tanaka’s work and has become his signature style.

After graduating from Fukuoka University Tanaka went on to study at the Arts Ceramics University, Potter’s Wheel Department. In 2004 he opened “Togen Ushikubi”, a pottery workshop where he taught students ranging from children to the elderly. In addition, from 2005 - 2016 he created and taught at “Four Seasons Workshop” at the Onojo City Lifelong Learning Center. In 2006 he also created “Iroha Ceramics”, a pottery class held at health facilities for the elderly with the goal being physical rehabilitation and improvement of cognitive function through enjoyable manual experiences and practice. In 2009 he renamed his workshop “Hasemusi Kiln”, from the old name of the area where he now lives.

In 2020 Tanaka suspended classroom operations and instead started his own pottery production activities. In this relatively short time he has carved out a niche for himself in the highly competitive Japanese ceramics world.

Tanaka writes:  “I am deeply grateful to have encountered pottery, to be fascinated by it and to have it as part of my life. Through my work, I feel great joy in being in contact with people from all over the world, and I will continue to use this as a source of inspiration for my creative activities.”

Nerikomi: The Art of Colored Clay

Written by Thomas Hoadley

*that the text is included in, publishing in January 2024.