Raku: The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl Exhibition presenting 450 years of Raku ware to be held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The Japan Foundation and the Raku Museum jointly organize Raku: The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl, an exhibition presenting 450 years of Raku ware, to be held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Featuring work by past Raku masters and by the brilliant Hon'ami Kōetsu, a close associate, as well as the wide-ranging activities (not limited to ceramics) of the current master Raku Kichizaemon XV and pieces by his son Atsundo, the future family head, this exhibition is a comprehensive survey of the unique aesthetic and philosophical realm of Raku ware, providing fascinating glimpses into each of the eras it covers.

This exhibition presents 94 works, from the serene, monochromatic tea bowls of founder Chōjirō, which most directly reflect the wabi tea ceremony ideals of legendary tea master Sen no Rikyū, to the strikingly original innovations of the current Raku master. We are confident that this first full-fledged show of Raku ceramics in the U.S. will draw much attention and acclaim.

After its run in Los Angeles, the exhibition will travel to Russia, with partially modified content, and be shown at the State Hermitage Museum and the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.

  • photo of Chōjirō, black Raku tea bowl named Omokage
    Chōjirō, black Raku tea bowl named Omokage (Shadow of Remembrance)
    Raku Museum
    Photo: Takashi Hatakeyama
  • photo of Kichizaemon XV, yakinuki type black Raku tea bowl
    Kichizaemon XV, yakinuki type black Raku tea bowl
    Private collection
    Photo: Takashi Hatakeyama


Date Sunday, March 29 – Sunday. June 7, 2015
Venue Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Monday, Tuesday and Thursday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Wednesday: Closed
Organized by The Japan Foundation, The Raku Museum, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art
In cooperation with The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto
Assisted by Japan Airlines
Exhibition Advisory Committee Sezo Hayashiya (Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Egawa Museum of Art; Honorary Board Member, Tokyo National Museum)
Taka Akanuma (Advisor, Mitsui Memorial Museum)
Yoshiaki Ito (Director of Curatorial Research, Tokyo National Museum)
Raku Kichizaemon (Current head and 15th generation of the Raku family , Raku Museum Director)
Curators Ryuichi Matsubara (Chief Curator, The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto)
Robert Singer (Curator, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

Statement by Raku Kichizaemon XV

Raku ware holds a unique place in the culture of Japanese ceramics, and remains as vital as ever today, 450 years after its foundation. The spirit of its tradition, handed down by successive generations starting with the founder Chōjirō, lies in each generation’s creative engagement with its own contemporary era. Within the confines of a small tea bowl that fits in the palm of the hand, Raku artists have carried out profound explorations of nature, human awareness, and philosophical issues such as artifice versus nature, randomness versus inevitability, parts and the whole, fulfillment versus lack, and the complete versus the incomplete. Indeed, the interior of a piece of Raku ware shows us “the cosmos in a tea bowl,” evoking everything from a black hole in the infinite vastness of space to the faint trickle of a tiny brook. The essence of Raku lies not in simply carrying on old traditions, but in a constantly evolving avant-garde spirit. Raku tea bowls are imbued with a philosophical significance that resonates with contemporary thought, and I am sure they will strike a powerful chord with viewers in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

Raku: The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl features historic works by past generations, including those designated by the Japanese government as Important Cultural Properties and Important Art Objects, as well as works showing the present and future of Raku by myself (the currently presiding Raku Kichizaemon XV) and successor Raku Atsundo, who before long will inherit the mantle as the 16th generation head. The majority of these are on loan from the Raku Museum in Kyoto. This museum was established in 1978 by 14th-generation master Raku Kakunyū, and the Raku family donated a collection of Raku ware, historical materials, and related tea-ceremony art objects from throughout its 450-year history. The museum’s collection contains many pieces that have been treasured heirlooms of the Raku family and have inspired and served as models for successive generations, who studied them, grasped the essence of the Raku tradition, and went on to develop their own original styles that departed from tradition in creative ways. The Raku Museum is truly an encapsulation of the essence of the Raku tradition over its centuries of history.

Works from the Raku Museum’s collection form the core of Raku: The Cosmos in a Tea Bowl, along with important pieces from other museums and from the collection of the Omote-senke and Ura-senke Foundation, descendants of tea ceremony forefather Sen no Rikyū who are keeping the culture of the tea ceremony thriving today. Many of these works are rarely seen by the public, even in Japan.
The opportunity to present these works and enjoy the deep understanding and appreciation of the American people is truly an invaluable one for me.

Raku Kichizaemon

  • photo of Chōjirō, red Raku tea bowl named Tarōbō
    Chōjirō, red Raku tea bowl named Tarōbō
    (an Important Cultural Property of Japan)
    Photo: Masayuki Miyahara
  • photo of Raku Seinyu XIII, Art object depicting the god Jurojin
    Raku Seinyu XIII, Art object depicting the god Jurojin
    Collection of the Raku Museum
    Photo: Masayuki Miyahara

[Contact Us]

The Japan Foundation
Arts and Culture Dept.
Person in charge: Ohira (Mr.), Mori (Ms.)
Tel: +81-(0)3-5369-6063 Fax: +81-(0)3-5369-6038
Email: Q_europe_mideast_africa@jpf.go.jp
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