Artist Introduction

Tosaiga artist

Kazuhisa Kusaba

Kazuhisa Kusaba

Kusaba was born in Saga Prefecture in 1960.
From an early age, he grew up with a strong interest in “life” such as animals and nature.
Kusaba, who found great joy in creation and expression, entered the College of Art at Nihon University to take the Theatre Course only to realize that what was truly necessary for him was not the artistic technique but experiences that could give him profundity and wisdom to vivify his arts.
He left the college and became a backpacker to spend almost 4 years traveling mainly around Asia.
The trip allowed him to look at ordinary things from a different perspective rather than an occasion to learn something new.
The simple fact that we all are living repeatedly struck him and finally made him decide to be an artist to express “sparkles of life.”

He went back to his homeland with the vision of a new art form of ceramic painting by utilizing Arita-yaki’s conventional techniques.
However Kusaba knocked on many doors sharing his idea of “Tosaiga”, it was rejected as a foolhardy undertaking.
Finally, Yuki Hayama, a ceramicist famous for his precise and delicate painting, welcomed the concept as innovative and worth trying, and let him begin the study of ceramic painting in 1987.
Kusaba was 27 years old.
Whereas in traditional regular ceramic ware, the glaze painting and firing process is repeated 4 times at the most, Kusaba stuck to realize much more vivid and deeper colors, and kept trial and error until he finally succeeded in repeating the process more than 10 times.
In 1990, he became independent and opened “Atelier Imagine” in Yamauchi-cho, Takeo City to start creating Tosaiga in earnest.

He kept up study and research being particular about color and sparkles, while constantly visiting various places such as India, Mongolia, and Dunhuang, in search of techniques, motifs, and inspiration for his art.
It made him grow as an artist and he came to hold exhibitions in various places in Japan.
In 2003, the atelier changed its name to Kusaba Kazuhisa Koubou and opened a gallery in Saga the following year.

Also, Kusaba wrote the picture book “Festival of Life: Where do I come from?”, with a feeling of the need to talk how precious life is.
It was motivated by several cases of young children involved in tragic incidences and child abuse.
The book was later assigned in Japanese elementary schools as a supplementary reader in morality classes, and he came to be quite regularly invited as a guest speaker at lecture meetings.

In 2014, Kusaba renovated the Saga Gallery to mark the 25th anniversary of the atelier opening and renamed it Kusaba Kazuhisa Koubou.
In 2020, Kusaba turned 60 years old, which is, in Japan, regarded as the turning point to finish a period and to be reborn.
At this juncture, Kusaba got back to his basics, longing for the sparkle of life, and started to create a new series “Jizai (at will)”.
For the series, he freely paints without a sketch, following his inspiration.
Also, Kusaba thought of “Ryu no Tama – Nyoihoju-” (Cintamani, wish-fulfilling jewel) to express the energy of dragons.
Even now, more than 30 years after originating Tosaiga, he continues to evolve as an artist, driven by his unfailing passion for the expression of life.


1987 Starts research for new expression Tosaiga, in Arita, Saga Prefecture.
1990 Opens Atelier Imagine for new techniques to enable repeating painting and firing.
1992 Produces ”Chinju no Mori,” Japan’s largest ceramic mural measuring 20 meters.
1996 Starts interaction with Dunhuang Art Academy in China.
Introduced on NHK TV “Living with Fire”.
Tosaiga “I remember you” adopted as a poster for the movie “Wings of Human”
1998 Sends some Tosaiga pieces to the Asian Craft Exhibition.
Visits murals and statues withheld from public view in Mogao Caves, Western Thousand Buddha Caves, and Yulinku.
2002 Tosaiga “Mizu no Bosatsu” displayed in the trainer room of Seattle Mariners in the United States.
2004 Opens Tosaiga Gallery in Takeo City, Saga Prefecture.
2005 Writes a picture book “Festival of Life - Nuchinugusuji -” and publishes nationwide from Sunmark Publishing. It later becomes a long bestseller unusual for a picture book (series sales total 520,000)
The book is still being aired on NHK’s E-Tele program “Television Picture Book.”
* NHK: Japan’s public broadcaster
2006 Presents Tosaiga “Daichohwa” to the President of Mongolia
Tosaiga “Daichohwa” inserted in the book “The Wisdom of Compassion” authored by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Presents Tosaiga “Daichohwa” to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
2008 Picture book “Festival of Life” wins the National Kindergarten “Picture Book Grand Prize”
2009 Picture book “Festival of Life” entered the Bologna Children’s Book Fair as a representative of Japanese books.
2011 Holds a hospital art exhibition at Kanazawa Medical University.
Creates Tosaiga masterpieces, “Heian” and “Toki ha Ima” with iridescent colors.
2012 Supervise an ossuary as a prayer space with the theme of “life”.
Directs a documentary movie ”Chikyu ha Kyoushitsu (The Earth is a classroom)”.
2013 Provides artistic cooperation for the movie “Strawberry Night -Theatrical Version-” by offering Tosaiga pieces, iridescent colored dragon “Heian” and abstract painting “Tohsui”.
Offers a special Tosaiga “Dainichi Nyorai - Kongohkai -” to Shiun-do at Fukusyo-ji Temple in Wakayama Prefecture.
2014 Renovates Saga Gallery at the 25th anniversary of the atelier opening.
2016 Starts to regularly hold a solo exhibition at To-ji Temple, a World Heritage Site in Kyoto.
2017 Creates pieces with iridescent sparkles, reproduction of the colors praised as the flowers of ancient Persia.
2018 4 out of 5 books of the “Festival of Life” series adopted in elementary school’s morality textbook.
2020 Produces a new series, Sparkling Glaze ”Jizai (At-Will)” at the juncture of 60th birthday.
2022 and 2023 Replica Giclée “Hohjoh no Megami-Lakshmi-” displayed in the Consulate General of India and the Embassy of India in honor of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and Japan.