Hamada Shoji (1894 –1978) was a Japanese potter. He was born in Tokyo, Japan, and died in Mashiko, Tochigi Prefecture. He studied ceramics at Tokyo Institute of Technology under Kawai Kanijiro, soon after he met Bernard Leach with whom he travelled to England in 1920.
Hamada Shoji was, without doubt, the most influential studio potter of the twentieth century. Having spent three years in St Ives with Bernard Leach he returned to Japan in 1923 and eventually situated his pottery in Mashiko about 2 hours by car from Tokyo. Hamada was born in Mizonokuchi, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1894. Throughout a lifetime dedicated to making pottery he achieved international recognition and his works have been collected by most of the world’s greatest museums. Hamada was unique in that his immense influence was felt not only in his native Japan, particularly in Mashiko, but also in the West. In the United Kingdom and the USA his style and philosophy became legendary and he was revered as the archetypal ’Oriental’ potter. In 1955 he was designated as an Important Cultural Property or, as it is more commonly known ‘Living National Treasure.
A consummate potter – a gifted thrower with a relaxed ‘nonchalant’ style, Hamada’s repertoire was extraordinary. His brushwork contains immense energy and unfettered freedom, his patterns, although controlled and often visually complex; seem to have been born in a moment of creative energy. He has been called one of the greatest abstract expressionists of the Twentieth Century. Today Hamada’s works are greatly sought after and attain high prices at auction