I thought he would always be there. It just never really occurred to me that one day he would be gone. The day has come. At 11:05 pm on Tuesday the 11th of December 2007, the last page closed on the life of Tatsuzo Shimaoka at the age of 88. He collapsed during the firing of his Noborigama last month, preparing for his annual exhibition at Matsuya Department store in Tokyo, and passed away in hospital.
It is sixteen years since he accepted me as his apprentice. He believed that through a dedication to quality, to healthy and natural work practices, to both tradition and innovation, but most of all to the making functional pottery that would enrich the everyday life of the user, it was possible to create beauty that extends beyond the limits of our ego, beyond the limits of our own fragile existence.
He taught me to accept the world for what it is, but also to strive for an ideal, and through that striving to bring the world closer to that ideal.
He is gone, but his influence, his work, will last forever. I miss him, I suppose I always will.