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    In a village called Katsura-mura in Ibaraki Prefecture, far up north-east from Tokyo, I was born on 24th December 1946 (the Year of the Dog).   Masaaki was my first name given by my father.
    The village is quite near to Mashiko, a late Edo period domestic pottery village which has been made famous by the potter Hamada Shoji and his British contemporary Bernard Leach.

    From a very early age I used to watch old craftsmen working with their time-honoured skills.  It came naturally and I was pretty good at drawing pictures and making things before I reached school age.

    My teenage was uncertain and I was a wild rebel towards people around me.  I was frustrated with everything in stereo-type society like any other teenagers.

    My interest in ancient and traditional culture led me to study Japanese literature at Meiji University, Tokyo, whilst my extra-curricular interests stretched from the modern artists Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol, to rock music, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.  Dating with beautiful girls was, of course, my top priority.

    On finishing my formal education, I took a job (with no experience became a chief fashion designer!) in Shibuya, Tokyo and designed many innovative clothes for young women, and lived among friends who, like me, wanted to challenge the old ways in art, fashion, music, film and theatre.   Later, I joined a hippy community on the outskirts of Tokyo and made a living as a freelance graphic designer.

    In spite of my alternative Rock 'n' Roll lifestyle, I wanted to learn more about Japanese cultural history and travelled widely in Japan, visiting museums, artisan's studios and antique shops.  I found pottery was the most interesting subject to study and began to collect old pots and books.   I am now considered to be an expert of Japanese Mediæval pottery.

    Because I like the climate and the people, I have been settled in England for nearly three decades.  I first started working alone as an art dealer in London.  In 1988, when I had an exhibition of Japanese pottery (my collection), I met the potter and ex-pottery magazine editor Murray Fieldhouse.  I found that we had very similar taste on pottery and he introduced me to many English potters.

    Eventually I decided to make serious pots and moved to Hertfordshire.  Murray understood my passion and kindly let me build my first 'anagama' in his garden.  I have been rather lucky to have been acquainted with professional potters like John Leach, Phil Rogers, Mike Dodd, Clive Bowen and my best friend Svend Bayer from the very beginning of my life as a potter.

    While visiting Japan in 1992, I met a master-potter Furutani Michio in Shigaraki.  His beautiful wood-fired vessels and observing his simple and gentle way of wood-firing his 'anagama', all experience was my awakening.  Since then my life has been changed completely.

    I had a few small exhibitions of my own in Tokyo, London, Tring (UK) and Europe.

    In May 2008, I was commissioned a special task to identify Japanese pottery for the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.  There I found secret Japanese treasures left on the shelves for three quaters of a century.   Most of 260 items came from the private collection of Sir Frank Brangwyn (artist & designer 1867-1956) - I managed to dig up some beautiful masterpieces and found who brought those pottery to him.  In the U.K. no-one seemed to know about the famous Matsukata Collection in Japan.  I will be writing articles for some selected pieces of the collection on my blog first (and a book in future in mind) and this is going to be another life-work of mine.

    In 2009, I found almost perfect raw clay for me in the Czech Republic.  I had gone back and worked over there flequently since.  I have been working like 'kama-gure' (Japanese word for a nomad potter) for some time in the past.

    A few years ago, I found a woodland in Tring [Hrets. U.K.] where I could work.  Having completed my latest anagama 'Moby' and a raku kiln with an open-air studio alongside, I have been working alone in the secret woods.

Masaaki Gas Kimishima

- postscript -

    My inspiration comes from living nature, 'Gorin' (Buddhist tantric elements of earth, water, fire, wind and sky) and 'Zen' ideology.
    As an echo of my old days as a graphic designer in Tokyo, I also use my visual skills designing web-sites for indivdual artists.

    As a matter of personal, I have been living separated from my wife since autumn 2009, in 40+ years of tempestuous love and hate relationship.   Somehow our separation turned out to be a good friendship, we have been getting on very well.  And she became one of my very best friends.
    I now live like a bachelor again, free to do things I missed over a few decades.

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