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Dick Lehman's Japan Travelogue

In the summer of 2002, Dick Lehman made a two-week trip to Japan, where he met up with Kanzaki Shiho and other Japanese potters. This is an account of that exciting journey, which took Dick to Osaka, Mishima, Nagoya and Okayama. This is a 4-part travelogue that was initially published on Robert Yellin's site e-yakimono.net. (Collectors of traditional Japanese pottery may also be interested in Yellin's Japanese pottery store.)

Introduction by Robert Yellin

Dick Lehman is a rare potter. He crafts words with the same skill he shows in crafting clay. His deep appreciation and understanding of clay and all it entails far exceeds the boundaries of his Goshen, Indiana yard -- it extends all the way here to Japan. I can imagine that many potters around the world look to Japan with a certain respect and admiration for its long clay history, the variety of ceramics and the way pottery is bound tightly with cultural ways. Not many potters have the chance to spend much time in Japan and for many a one-time visit becomes a life-long memory. Lehman is unique in that he has traveled in Japan a few times and finds his way around with limited Japanese, often delving into deep topics armed with only a dictionary and the expressiveness of his hands and soul, and of course the revelations that silent communication and observation can offer as well.

I could easily see how some spoken miscommunication could occur in such encounters, but surprisingly Lehman-san has found "'a way" to get it right and put his reflections and ponderings into eloquent language. He recently traveled again to Japan and put to paper his thoughts in a four-part travelogue series dealing with his meetings with various potters and the inward, and outward, discoveries that he made.

The Japanese word for appreciation is kansha and it is so how I feel that I've had the good fortune to meet and share some moments in time with Dick Lehman. I hope after you finish reading this series you'll understand why.

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