Shōji Hamada

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Hamada at the University of Michigan, 1967 or 1968
Thrown, Combed tea bowl by Shoji Hamada

Shōji Hamada (濱田 庄司, Hamada Shōji, December 9, 1894 – January 5, 1978) was a Japanese potter. He was a significant influence on studio pottery of the twentieth century, and a major figure of the mingei folk-art movement, establishing the town of Mashiko as a world-renowned pottery centre.[citation needed]


Hamada was born in Tokyo, Japan, in 1894.

He studied ceramics at Tokyo Institute of Technology with Kawai Kanjirō under Itaya Hazan. As the sole students in the school interested in becoming artist-potters, Hamada and the slightly elder Kawai were soon friends, touring the city in search of inspiration.[1][2] Hamada was deeply impressed by a Tokyo exhibition of ceramic art by Bernard Leach, who was then staying with Yanagi Sōetsu, and wrote to Leach seeking an introduction.[1] The two found much in common and became good friends, so much so that Hamada accompanied Leach to England in 1920 when the latter decided to return and establish a pottery there. Having spent three years in St Ives with Bernard Leach, he returned to Japan in 1923 and eventually established his workshop in Mashiko, about 100 km north-east of Tokyo. Here, he built his own pottery and committed himself to using only locally sourced materials, not only in the clay he used, but also the glazes he created and the brushes he manufactured himself from dog hair and bamboo.[3]

In 1955 the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology designated him a "Living National Treasure".

Hamada Shoji was very supportive of young artists who moved to Mashiko such as his student Shimaoka Tatsuzō, and Kamoda Shōji, and was also important in establishing Mashiko as a destination for day tourism.

Hamada died in Mashiko on January 5, 1978.


Shōji Hamada Memorial Mashiko Sankokan Museum

Throughout a lifetime dedicated to making pottery he achieved international recognition and his works have been collected by museums across the world. Hamada influence was felt not only in his native Japan, particularly in Mashiko, but also in the West. In the United Kingdom and the US his style and philosophy became well known amongst studio potters, and he was revered as the archetypal "Oriental" potter. In 1955 he was designated a "Living National Treasure".

A square plate with iron pigment brushwork by Shōji Hamada

Today Hamada's works attain high prices at auction. In the UK, examples of his work can be seen at the York Art Gallery.


  • Bernard Leach, Hamada, Potter; with a new preface by Warren MacKenzie; foreword by Janet Darnell Leach. Tokyo; New York: Kodansha International; New York: Distributed in the US by Kodansha International/USA, 1990. 232 pp. Ill. (some col.); 26 cm.
  • Bernard Leach, A Potter in Japan, 1952–1954. London: Faber and Faber, 1960. 246 pp. Ill., ports.; 21 cm.
  • Bernard Leach, Hamada & their Circle: from the Wingfield Digby collection / Tony Birks & Cornelia Wingfield Digby; introduction by Michael Webb; photographs by Peter Kinnear. Yeovil: Marston House, 1992. 192 pp. Ill. (chiefly col.); 28 cm.
  • Susan Peterson. Shoji Hamada: a potter's way and work. Tokyo; New York: Kodansha International; New York: distributed by Harper & Row, 1974. 239 pp. Ill. (some col.) ; 27 cm. Held in State Library of NSW


  • Shoji Hamada [videorecording]: a potter's way and work / written and narrated by Susan Peterson. New York: Weatherhill Press, 1995, c. 1996. 1 videocassette (VHS)(027 min.): sd., col.; 1/2 in.
  • Mashiko village pottery, Japan, 1937 [videorecording]: pottery-making in Japan.1 videocassette (VHS) (22 min.): si., b&w; 1/2 in. Shows the pottery techniques used by Mashiko potters. From the 1850s, these potters produced utilitarian ware for local markets, but the post-war period saw a change with the influence of renowned potter, Shoji Hamada. Held at University of Tasmania & Edith Cowan University. Edith Cowan University Library
  • The Potters' Society of Australia presents...Shoji Hamada [videorecording]. Kensington, NSW: University of New South Wales. Audio Visual Unit, (198?)1 videocassette (VHS) (55 min.): sd., b&w; 1/2 in. Held in University of Newcastle. University of Newcastle Library
  • Shoji Hamada [videorecording]: a demonstration by Shoji Hamada.Audio-Visual Unit, UNSW, 1984. 1 videocassette (VHS) (48 min.): sd., b&w; 1/2 in. Held in Southern Cross University. University Library Lismore.
  • The Potters' Society of Australia presents Shoji Hamada [videorecording]. Sydney: Closed Circuit Television, University of New South Wales, 1965. 1 videocassette (VHS)(50 min): sd., b&w; 1/2.Famous Japanese artist potter, Shoji Hamada demonstrates his unique techniques. Held in The University of Sydney. University of Sydney Library.


  • Fingers and Clay. 1 film reel (11 mins): sd., b&w; 16 mm. Pottery making as an artistic craft. Australian students and the Japanese master potter Shoji Hamada demonstrate techniques involved, and typical creative work is shown. Producer, Malcolm Otton; director, editor, Christopher Cordeaux; script, J. Hawes; photographers, Edward Cranstone, Tom Cowan; sound, Gordon Wraxall. Held in State Library of NSW
  • The art of the potter. [Motion picture] / Sidney Reichman and David Outerbridge.New York : Phoenix Films, 1977. 2 reels, 50 mins: sd., col.; 16 mm.Presents the work of English potter Bernard Leach and Japanese potter Shōji Hamada. Shows each potter demonstrating and discussing his craft, beginning with the digging of clay through its firing in a kiln. Held in State Library of NSW
  • Three potters throwing. [Motion picture]. Research & Education Dept, American Crafts Council, 1958. 20 mins: si. color; 16 mm.Shows potters Shōji Hamada, Antonio Prieto, and Peter Voulkos throwing pots.Held in University of New England. Dixson Library.


  • Shoji Hamada [Pottery] [slide]. Tanyard, Wilts: Slides for Potters, [197-].23 slides: col. & + guide (Set 19).

a. Bottle 1963. Slab-built, salt glaze.-b. Bottle. 1963. Slab, "Kaki" ash glaze.-c. Bottle, 1963. Tall slab-built, "Kaki".-d. Vase.1963. "Kaki" glaze, wax resist. e. Pot. 1963. Flattened, iron brushwork. f. Bottle. 1963. Tall rectangular wax resist. g. Pot. 1963. Flattened, block glaze trail. h. Bottle. 1963. Curved slab, wax resist. i. Bottle. 1963. Thrown square brushwork, salt glaze. j. Bottle. 1963. Slab, panelled decoration. k. Bottle. 1963. Rectangular, finger sgraffito. Pot. Held in The University of Melbourne. The University Library.

For more information on the holdings contact your public library in Australia.


  1. ^ a b Leach, 1990:93
  2. ^
  3. ^ Riddick, Sarah (1990). Pioneer Studdio Pottery: The Milner-White Collection. Lund Humphries Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0853315906. 

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