Tsujimura Shirô is an anomaly among Japanese potters; he is self-taught. His résumé reads like that of many other successful Japanese potters in terms of exhibitions at department stores and art galleries, but the usual training with his father, as a pupil of some older potter, or in the ceramics department of an art college is lacking. Tsujimura was born in Nara, near a farm his father owned. After graduating from high school in 1965, he resolved to become an oil painter. Planning to enroll in art school, he traveled to Tokyo, but found the entrance procedures very tedious and dropped out. Next he approached a painter about becoming his apprentice, only to be rebuffed because he had not bothered with the formal introduction required by Japanese etiquette. Tsujimura experimented with painting on his own for four years, during three of which he also studied Buddhism at a Zen temple. It was there that he first became acquainted with a potter's wheel and had an opportunity to handle a rare 15th to 16th century Ido-type Korean tea bowl. These two events proved crucial to his career.
Dissatisfied with the glossy surface of oil paint, and attracted by the infinite variety of surface textures and colors found on ceramics, Tsujimura decided to pursue pottery rather than painting. By laboring for two years on his father's farm he saved up enough money to buy a plot of land on a remote hillside near Nara. Using timber from a ruined temple and an old bridge, he built himself a house. Next to it he constructed the first of a series of seven kilns with which he experimented for several years. He began producing ceramics in 1969, and held his first exhibition at his own house in 1977 after distributing pamphlets with photographs of some of his pieces. Nearly everything sold.
The following year, 1978, he participated in a group exhibition at the Mitsukoshi department store's Osaka branch. Five years later, in 1983, his work was included in a group show at Mitsukoshi's main branch in Nihonbashi, Tokyo, where he has exhibited many times since. His ceramics have also been shown in Nagoya, Matsuyama, Kyoto, Okayama and Yokohama, as well as in New York, where he had a one-man show at the Sugimoto Gallery in Soho. In 1989 he exhibited paintings at the Yûrakuchô branch of Hankyû department store in Tokyo. During 1990 he had five one-man shows of ceramics in one year, the first of which was at the main branch of the Tachikichi Ceramics Gallery in Kyoto.
Tsujimura produces ceramics in a wide variety of traditional Japanese and Korean styles. These include Japanese-style unglazed: Shigaraki and Iga; Japanese-styled glazed: Karatsu, Hagi, Black Seto and Shino; and Korean-style: Ido and "kohiki." During the first half of the 16th century, tea masters in Japan began selecting some of these Korean bowls for use as tea bowls in the tea ceremony. Tsujimura understands such bowls better than many other Japanese potters with much more formal training. Although inspired by Korean models, his "kohiki" and Ido tea bowls diplay compelling individuality and a remarkable energy that is especially evident in the rapid and rugged cutting of the foot.
[From "Modern Japanese Ceramics in American Collections," Japan Society, 1993.]