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Ayoo - Naoki Kanazawa
In search of landscapes and ceramics

Ayoo - Naoki Kanazawa’s ceramics capture
the natural landscapes of Amakusa in Kumamoto prefecture.

As the pink of the morning sun and the blue of the ocean blend together,
As the brightly coloured moss blankets rocks in the wilderness,
Ayoo ceramics bring together soil and glaze, a myriad of colours, textures, patterns.

Shimoshima is part of the Amakusa Archipelago of Kumamoto prefecture. Naoki Kanazawa was born on Shimoshima into a family of potters and grew up surrounded by the beautiful ocean waters and natural landscapes of Shimoshima. He started making ceramics at the age of 18. This year, 15 years into his career, he left the family business to launch “Ayoo” with his wife Ayoo Sachi.

Inspired by the natural landscapes of Amakusa, he uses his hands to mould clay into an expression of “Ambient Ceramics”, the theme that underpins his work. Capturing that fleeting expression of the ever-changing face of nature, each piece that he creates is unique.

Ayoo, which is their artist name as well as the name of their brand, is used as an interjection in the Amakusa dialect when happy, sad or surprised. Although it does not have a specific meaning, it is a well-rounded, gentle and soft word.
Naoki Kanazawa and Ayoo Sachi’s work embodies the many “ayoo” or “feelings” that they experience through living close to nature, and do not want to forget.

We embarked on a brief journey in search of the landscapes captured in their ceramics, in search of a mere glimpse of those “ayoo”. We treaded firmly on the wildland, we were washed by the rain, we were swallowed by the waves, and felt desperation and fear as we realised that we were “no match for nature”. We became aware of how small we are, and we were reassured by sunlight breaking through the clouds. We found beauty in the ordinary as we appreciated the bounty of nature.
We think back to the many “ayoo” we experience in day-to-day life, and cherish them.

A fusion of practicality and beauty. Colours that melt and overlap into one another. The relationship between nature and people. Come and discover the many landscapes that Naoki Kanazawa has captured in his ceramics.

Grass, trees, moss, flowers, leaves, roots, insects, birds, beasts. Traveling along a lush path overflowing with life. Blue, brown, green, black … countless hues of colour. What landscape, sounds, smells inspired the potter’s wheel as it created these items?

Treading firmly on the expansive earth. My shoes are full of sand. I walk with my head down.
The clouds rush past and the rain beats down on my cheeks. The rocky cliffs come together.
Even in such a harsh environment, vegetation puts down roots and flowers bloom. It’s impressive.
Ceramics from Kanazawa’s series “Breath” appear to trace the growth of the earth.

I rub my sleepy eyes as I wait for morning. Still sleepy. My limbs do not move as I intend.
A soft light falls onto the darkness. The sky and ocean soon melt into a single blue. A vibrant, beautiful moment that makes me briefly stand still.
The blue of the deep sea, the faint light reflecting on the water’s surface, walking barefoot along the water’s edge. I get the impression that rather than embodying the ocean’s demeanour itself.
Kanazawa’s ceramic art is in fact an expression of the “sensations” that he has experienced when facing the ocean.


Ceramics / Naoki Kanazawa
1989 Born on Shimoshima in Amakusa, starts making ceramics from the age of 18. 2008 Begins his career in ceramics joining the family business “Maruoyaki”. Uses his ceramics as a medium for diverse artistic expression. Holds ceramics exhibitions all over the country. 2022 Founds Ayoo and begins creating ceramics in his own kiln.

Landscapes / Ayoo Sachi
2008 Starts career in film. Is involved in planning and production as a film director for various projects 2022 In charge of “landscapes” (film, photography and text, installation) at Ayoo

Ayoo - Naoki Kanazawa’s Ceramics Exhibition “Fusion”
Dates: Friday 12th August 2022 to Sunday 21st August
 Address: 1-15-9 Aobadai Meguro Ward, Tokyo

Translation_Yuko Caroline Omura