Studio Visit: Kodai Ujiie

Magic of the Tea Bowl Volume III
June 20, 2023
Studio Visit: Kodai Ujiie

Kodai Ujiie is an avante-garde ceramicist who imbues each piece with the breath of life. His hand-built porcelain artworks, which deploy glazes such as celadon and ofukei, are inlaid with colorful lacquer inspired by the tradition of kintsugi, coming to resemble writhing limbs, veins and arteries, and scaled skin. Feel ceramic come to life in your hands in Magic of the Tea Bowl at Ippodo Gallery, 32 E. 67th St., 3rd Floor. 


Kodai UjiieCeladon and Lacquer Tea Bowl - 漆貫入彩白磁茶盌, (C24100)


Kodai Ujiie expresses compassion in his tea bowls by calling attention to abnormality. Ujiie’s method incorporates textures emulating plant veins, mucus, and calcified textures. His creations extrapolate the lacquer mending technique in prismatic hues, forming interlaced networks of color.


Question 1

Do you practice tea in daily life? Please share your chanoyu routine, or a beloved memory of chanoyu.



I enjoy making matcha with cups I crafted in my daily life. As a student, I began my strong passion for chawan. I would compete with professors and school friends, including Hiroshi Goseki, to create the finest bowls. We paid attention to intricate details like balance and foot design. Although these experiences were not directly tied to the tea ceremony, they shaped my approach to tea bowls.

Moreover, gaining more experience has taken my art to the next level. That's why I commit to visiting the library, browsing catalogs, and practice making tea wear more than any other artists I know.


Kodai Ujiie working at his Shibata-gun, Miyagi Prefecture kiln.



Please describe the influences that inspire your work.



I draw inspiration from organic elements, such as scales, the texture of skin, and cells.

Whenever I create my art pieces, I aim to design something like living creatures, as if they are ready to jump to life and move.


Kodai Ujiie serving tea in his Oribe Tea Bowl.



Please describe the qualities do you most treasure in a tea bowl—be that shape, color, texture, or history, style, and type of clay? 



The most important thing is a sense of the extraordinary, disconnection from daily life. In chanoyu, entering a tea room and having a cup of matcha is meant to take a guest out of their social setting and invite them into a separate world.

Furthermore, as an art form, teacups hold a distinctive and exceptional quality: they merge art with the act of sipping. I aspire to craft bowls that evoke the experience of drinking matcha, captivating guests as they encounter new sensations when faced with my creations.


Kodai UjiieOfukei and Lacquer Tea Bowl - 漆貫入彩御深井茶盌, (C25969)



Please share with us how you prepare to make a new piece; how do you decide on the materials and direction for the idea?



I being my process by envisioning the image of the tea bowl I aim to create while browsing catalogs and using social media as a reference.


Kodai Ujiie bisque-firing ceramic in his Shibata-gun, Miyagi Prefecture studio.


Enter the living world of Kodai Ujiie until July 13—there is no greater sensation than experiencing the touch and power of a tea bowl first-hand. Plan to visit while our famous annual show is still on view! 


About the author

Keiko Taniguchi

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