Located a short walk from Ginkaku-ji Temple, the Robert Yellin Gallery is a carefully curated gallery of Japanese pottery in a lovely traditional Kyoto house.
Robert Yellin Gallery Interior – image © Chris Rowthorn
Robert Yellin is one of the leading foreign experts on Japanese pottery. An American who has made his home in Japan for decades, Yellin is an encyclopedic source of information on all aspects of Japanese “yakimono” (ceramics). His gallery, which is inside a superb old Kyoto house just steps from Ginkaku-ji Temple, is a must-see for serious fans of Japanese pottery.
Yellin displays work from a variety of contemporary Japanese ceramic artists and he has an eye for the distinctive and the striking. You can find examples of famous pottery areas like Bizen, but you will also encounter styles that you’ve probably never seen. Meanwhile, over a cup of tea, Yellin is happy to talk about all aspect of Japanese ceramics.
Robert Yellin Gallery Garden – image © Chris Rowthorn
Rather than me telling the whole story, here’s what Yellin says about his gallery:
“Our gallery highlights works from potters throughout Japan showing
works in classical styles such as Bizen, Shigaraki and Hagi–to name but
a few–to the works of purely sculptural ceramic artists. We endeavor to
support living artists as much as possible yet do often have works from
the known greats of the past as well as antiquities.
The gallery is a big fan of yakishime, which basically is high-fired
unglazed stonewares where all the beauty of the work is a direct result
of the interplay of clay and wood-ash. Some are collectively known as
‘The Six-Old Kilns of Japan’ (Bizen, Shigaraki, Tamba, Echizen, Tokoname
and Seto), yet we also show lots of Iga and independent potters working
in their own takes on yakishime.
Japanese pottery encompasses the entire history of Japan, from Jomon
to the present. The wide variety of styles found in Japan is unprecedented
anywhere in the world and from the lowly chopstick rest to massive
sculptures there is something to be found, used and enjoyed for anyone.
And then the philosophy of Zen aesthetics found within the cosmos of a
Tea bowl is a whole other world of Beauty.”
In addition to running his gallery, Yellin is available to guide serious fans of Japanese pottery to various kilns and ateliers around Kyoto. He charges Y50,000 for a full day of guiding without his car and Y70,000 if you go with his car. You can reach him at the details below.
Ginkakuji-mae-cho 39, Sakyo-ku
morning and afternoon
Free, but casual visitors are discouraged (you should have a serious interest in Japanese pottery). Best to call in advance (see phone number below).
10min walk from Ginkaku-ji-michi Bus Stop, Kyoto City Bus 5 or 17 from Kyoto Station
For exact directions, check out this map to the Robert Yelling Gallery.
Official Website (English)
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