What is Tosaiga

Tosaiga is a new art form of ceramic painting utilizing the Arita-yaki, or Arita ware techniques.

It started from the artist Kusaba’s passion and desire to create beautiful art with vivid and delicate hues, glosses, and sparkles on the theme of “life.” Based on Arita-yaki’s 400-year history of tradition, he realized the unique expression through over 30 years of untiring trial and error with delicate research on glazes.

The creation of Tosaiga differs from the plaque, or the traditional porcelain panel painting, which is generally a transcribed drawing on a ceramic plate. A white ceramic panel is used as the canvas on which a picture is painted with glazes. The painted panel is fired in a kiln, then a different color is painted to be fired again.This process is repeated more than 10 times. It is so innovative that nearly all Arita ware ceramicists used to regard Kusaba’s vision as foolhardy because the traditional regular ceramic ware could repeat the painting and firing process only 4 times at the most.

The creation of Tosaiga, which repeats the process of melting glazes with high heat in a kiln, is literally the repeat of a chemical reaction. The proper conditions for firing, such as temperature and order, are different from glaze to glaze. Kusaba kept trial and error over and over to realize the ideal colors. One of them is a deep blue color named “Imagine Blue,” which was inspired by Arita-yaki’s representative lapis lazuli color and developed for Tosaiga. Another trial is the reproduction of the silvering phenomenon often seen in the excavated ancient Rome glassware, and Persian luster that shines in rainbow color to be admired as visionary gloss.The research and study are still ongoing to make Tosaiga techniques even more sophisticated and improved.

The techniques are indeed indispensable as the entire procedure, including compounding glazes, delicate drawing, regulation of the kiln temperature, and the allocation of time to fire depending on glazes, requires a high concentration. But it is not everything of Tosaiga’s creation. One of the characteristics of Tosaiga is that once the piece is put into the kiln, there is an element one cannot control as it enters a world beyond human expectation in which the piece is “entrusted to the fire.” These processes can finally make the piece radiate dazzling lights, and in some cases, breathtakingly beautiful even to exceed the artist’s expectations.
Putting the piece into the kiln has a symbolic meaning: releasing what we persist in and entrusting ourselves to natural providence. Allowing for rare occurrences in the finishing process, the blending of glazes that occurs in the kiln produces a mystery to the colors, and the exact same color can never be reproduced.

The completed work, which far surpasses the image the artist originally had, releases a dazzling light and never fades.