The city of Kochi looks out on the sweeping Pacific Ocean to the south and the soaring mountains of Shikoku island to the north. Drive through it and up a winding mountain path for about half an hour. Perched quietly on the distant hillside is Daisuke Nagano’s studio.
Nagano discovered the hand-powered potter’s wheel in high school. His fascination with it opened the door to the world of ceramic art. After graduating from art school, he returned to his birthplace of Kochi, selected a site deep in the mountains, built his own hut, and in the slope dug a primitive Anagama kiln. He cut his own firewood and used it to fuel the kiln. Nagano, has successfully created pottery inspired by nature and in doing so has also created his ideal form of pottery and his ideal lifestyle.
From the start, his mind was made up to procure his own glaze. Glaze making requires a tremendous amount of wood and plant ash. He decided to use the ash of burned rice straw, a byproduct of his family’s farm, as well as the burned foliage from pomelo and pear trees, Kochi specialties grown by relatives and acquaintances. The straw ash glaze and wood ash glaze created as a result lend a unique color and texture to Nagano’s pottery.
Nagano says the essence of the craftsman shows not only in the end product but also throughout the entire process. Nagano is a self-taught potter by choice. He has found a place in which to explore pottery as well as himself. And he will carry on leading the life of half potter, half farmer, taking advantage of the climate of Kochi.