From Koi to Orcas: Cultural Heritage in Craft


The work of Japanese ceramist, Kinichi Shigeno, demonstrates the creative benefit of immigration and cultural heritage. Shigeno’s Orca Platter, a thrown porcelain with cobalt underglaze, exemplifies this. Shigeno migrated to Canada in 1981, after extensive training in Japan. Ceramics training school, traditional apprenticeship, and researching porcelain and cobalt underglaze, are a peak into his formational training experiences. He later established his own studio in Richmond, British Columbia in 1983.

Shigeno integrates Japan’s rich ceramics heritage, attention to detail and love of beauty, into his ceramics. Apparent in Orca Platter, Shigeno draws from the signature colour and design palette of Japanese art, using blue and white, as well as repeated patterns. He amalgamates traditional emblems of Japan, reimagining them in a Canadian context. On Orca Platter, the symbolic koi of Japan, transforms into the majestic orcas of Canada’s west coast, seamlessly blending culture and echoing Canada’s multicultural tapestry.