NO-MA ARCHIVE(ノマ アーカイヴ)

The History and Beginning of the Plastic Arts of People with Disabilities in Shiga Prefecture

Munehiro Yamada

(Director of Karasaki Yayoi Workshop, Otsu Welfare Association)

This text is a research report published in Research Report on the Plastic Arts of People with Disabilities in Shiga (2009). The professional titles mentioned are those during writing.


To date, many works of outsider art have been presented and have attracted considerable social attention. Outsider art first became known in Japan with the exhibition Parallel Visions: Twentieth Century Art and Outsider Art (1993) held at the Setagaya Art Museum in Tokyo. Since then, many works have been produced and presented to the world. Among them, the plastic arts, mainly ceramics, of Shiga Prefecture are recognized for their uniqueness.

This chapter discusses the history of the plastic arts activities that have been conducted mainly at facilities and the involvement of Kazuo Yagi, who is said to have had a great influence on these activities. In addition, the history of welfare facilities and their activities, which can be said to form the philosophical background of plastic arts activities in Shiga Prefecture, is described in detail to be easily understandable for non-welfare service workers.

The Beginning of Welfare Facilities in Shiga Prefecture

Shiga Prefecture’s engagement in plastic arts is traceable back to the early postwar period. The World War that ended in 1945 resulted in a tragic catastrophe, with the loss of many lives, the separation of families, and the injury and disability of many people. Postwar society was plagued by various social problems, especially poverty, which adversely impacted people’s lives and livelihoods. In this situation, children and people with disabilities found it difficult to survive on their own, and many of them died of starvation. Akiyuki Nosaka’s popular and realistic movie Grave of the Fireflies is helpful in understanding this situation. The film depicts a boy and his sister who lost their parents in the war wandering around the town without food or a place to live, bravely trying to stay alive in a situation where they have to steal food to survive. However, even after the war ends, adults walk unconcernedly beside the protagonist whose life is about to be cut short in the train station, and he dies without being saved, having been abandoned by society. These war orphans starved in poverty and were even subjected to “vagabond hunting” when they committed anti-social acts and threatened the general public. In the midst of this situation, in Shiga Prefecture, three individuals, namely Kazuo Itoga, Taro Ikeda, and Ichiji Tamura, sought to establish a facility based on the ideals of education and welfare, where as many children as possible, including unattended war orphans and intellectually disabled children abandoned at home and in the community, could be admitted without further delay. They believed that ensuring the education and welfare of children was the most important project for the reconstruction of Japan in the postwar period. As a result, in 1946, the Omi Gakuen School was established on a small hill in Nango, located at the southern end of Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture, where Lake Biwa becomes the Seta River meeting the waters of the Yodo River and flows over a weir into the Uji River.

Welfare in Shiga and the Three Pioneers

As the production of plastic arts by children with disabilities in Shiga Prefecture is deeply related to Omi Gakuen as well as the welfare and educational practices and ideas of the three founders, it seems appropriate to discuss the history of welfare in Shiga.

Kazuo Itoga was born in Tottori City in 1914, studied religious philosophy at Kyoto University, and worked for a year as a substitute teacher at the Second Kinugasa Elementary School in Kyoto City. Subsequently, he joined the Shiga Prefectural Government, where he was in charge of rationing as head of the food section, following which he became head of the secretarial division serving Governor Kotaro Kondo. He then was appointed director of Omi Gakuen, where he engaged in projects related to the welfare and education of children with disabilities, based on the welfare concept of “letting these children be the light of the world” and ensuring their development. The ideas and practices of Itoga and the others, who maximized the potential of people with disabilities through welfare and education as well as their right to live as human beings and positioned them as protagonists who would contribute to the progress of society, are a welfare philosophy still applicable to this day and were a great achievement for the development of social welfare in the twentieth century. Itoga said, “No matter how serious their disabilities are, these children achieve self-realization in a unique way irreplaceable by anyone else’s. They are born as human beings and grow as human beings in their own way. This self-realization is creation and production. Our wish is to create a society where people recognize that these children with severe disabilities are also worthy producers. We do not seek a policy of pity to ‘shed light on these children’ but rather to polish them up and make them shine, because they are the very materials that can shine on their own. The idea is to ‘let these children be the light of the world.’ This means that we must guarantee the right to personality development with which these children are born.” This concept of welfare by Itoga is considered to be more advanced than the charitable welfare that had existed until then and the idea of normalization advocated in Europe in the same period. At the same time, this can be identified as the philosophy of welfare in Shiga.

Taro Ikeda was born in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1908, graduated from the Kyoto Normal School where he completed the Regular Course II, and worked at the Second Kinugasa Elementary School in Kyoto. He became a prominent educator in Kyoto for his research on the education of gifted and disabled children. In 1943, he worked at Mitsuhama Gakuen, an institution for physically weak and sickly children, and was in charge of vocational guidance at Omi Gakuen. In 1952, he was appointed as the head of the Shigaraki Dormitory (currently Shigaraki Gakuen), and in 1955, he opened the Shigaraki Youth Residence. In an era when prejudice was even stronger than it is today, he worked to transform Shigaraki into a town where people with disabilities could work and live in harmony, and with the support of local residents, his efforts to create private boarding houses for dormitory residents in ordinary homes developed into the current group home system. He passed away in 1987 at the age of 79.

Ichiji Tamura was born in 1909 in Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture. He graduated from the Kyoto Normal School (currently Kyoto University of Education), where he majored in drawing, and taught children with disabilities at Shigeno Elementary School in Kyoto City. In 1944, Tamura was welcomed to Ishiyama Gakuen, established by Itoga, and spent two years living with fifteen intellectually disabled children, eating and sleeping with them while developing the facility. He became the deputy director of Omi Gakuen and worked as the director of Ichibaku Dormitory. In 1971, he published the Record of Personal Experience in Myoga Village, which was adapted into a movie in 1979. In this work, the main character Tamura visits Myoga Village, where people with and without disabilities, old and young, work hard, respect nature, and live in harmony, and is given a tour by the village mayor. In 1975, he started Myoga Academy, and in 1982, he established Myoga Village in Aito Town, Shiga Prefecture, achieving a utopia. Tamura was a painter himself—he had a deep connection with the arts and interacted with artists. At Omi Gakuen, he offered painting classes for staff members to help them learn at least one artistic skill. He passed away in 1995 at the age of 86.

Omi Gakuen’s Encounter with Clay and the Birth of Clay Art in Shiga Prefecture

When Omi Gakuen was established, it was divided into two sections, one for intellectually disabled children and the other for war orphans and needy children. The facility also served as a children’s home, but as the children without disabilities returned to live with their parents or graduated, the disabled children who had nowhere else to go remained at the facility, which thus became an institution for intellectually disabled children. The institution’s management policy was to “provide a variety of production sites that are both educational and profitable to facilitate the independence and self-sustainability of the institution.” Its departments included the Education Department and the Vocational Guidance Department, and the institution initially sought to “develop production in three fields: (1) agriculture, (2) animal husbandry, and (3) ceramics.” According to Itoga, pottery “involves a great deal of variation in its work processes, from digging to kneading, molding, shaping, stamping, unglazed firing, painting, glost firing, raku firing, and selling. The soil of the institution was thought to be connected to Shigaraki, an old pottery production area beyond the Tanakami Mountain rising ahead across the Tanakami plain.” In Shigaraki, Itoga also had long-standing and close personal and professional relationships with the main players in the industry. The newsletter of the institution published in 1947 reads: “The hill on which the institution is built happens to offer excellent potter’s clay, and the soil of the surrounding mountains is also fine potter’s clay. The result of tests conducted in Shigaraki revealed that its soil is exactly the same as that of the area surrounding the institution.” The publication also described how delighted the institution was to install a pottery facility there, believing with excitement that it would help the children expand their dreams as both an educational activity and a respectable career. Upon learning of this, Kosendo Fujiwara, the owner of Tanukiya and a master craftsman in Shigaraki, offered to build the kiln in the facility, and constructed the Nango ware kiln, a climbing kiln with three chambers, in the summer of 1947. Half a million yen was invested to equip the kiln with kneading machines, potter’s wheels, and mills, and in June 1948, the following year, the Pottery Department was established with a young man, Kosendo’s heir, in charge.

However, this was a “painful experience” for Itoga, as, despite their great expectations and dreams, the pottery project turned out to be a series of failures, and they suffered serious setbacks. The head of the Pottery Department was unable to use the kiln properly and “knocked down the kiln painstakingly made by his father to rebuild it, as he thought it was poorly made, and built a larger one beside it.” However, the new kiln was “of a poor quality even to the untrained eye.” He then “rebuilt the kiln three times in four years, but the fire temperature never rose above the level of unglazed firing”. In addition, he made 10,000 censers but they did not sell as they were too large, making the period “four years of blank for the Pottery Department.”

However, although the project failed in terms of production, it turned out to be a success in a different sense: “It was effective as a teaching material for intellectually disabled children, as it increased their interest in the soil through contact with it.” At that time, “a small raku firing kiln was built beside the kiln for glost firing” and it appears that this was used more frequently. A similar kiln was constructed in the early 1990s at the Karasaki Yayoi Workshop in Otsu City when Mutsuo Michi, an early instructor of the Pottery Department, taught ceramics there. It was a clay-walled circular kiln with a diameter of one meter and a height of approximately one meter, and at its bottom was a slab with many small holes in it, on which ceramics were placed to be fired with wood from below. The temperature did not rise above 800 degrees, producing fragile and often damaged pieces, but it gave a rustic color different from pieces produced through field firing. It was suitable for works made by intellectually disabled children, as it could accommodate large pieces. Firing works in this kiln was a “fun event at the institution,” as “both children and adults were surprisingly interested in clay works, and they all watched their works being fired with bated breath.”

Unfortunately, no works or records have survived, and no actual testimonies were obtained, but Itoga wrote that “some amazingly unique and artistic pieces were produced.” Perhaps this was the birth of clay plastic arts, and it could be identified as the beginning of outsider art in Shiga Prefecture as well.

This initial failure of the Pottery Department probably marked the beginning of two diverging paths in the relationship between clay and the intellectually disabled in Shiga Prefecture. One is the path of the development of clay into plastic arts, which is discussed in this essay, and the other is the path of community development that led people with disabilities to work mainly in the ceramic industry and live in and around Shigaraki. Ichiji Tamura was the central figure in promoting the former, and Taro Ikeda the latter. As later discussed in detail in Pottery at Facilities in Shiga Prefecture and Shigaraki with respect to the relationship between the town of Shigaraki and people with disabilities, the four blank years of the Pottery Department were a preparatory period for today’s plastic arts activities. Itoga described that period as “a failure in light of the ideals of economic independence and self-sustainability, but a meaningful period for children to prepare for the future by playing with clay, kneading and twisting it to create something, and mass-producing items with simple stencils.”

The Expansion of Welfare Facilities and Plastic Arts Activities in Shiga Prefecture

Welfare in Shiga Prefecture has developed through the interrelationship of welfare facilities. This section provides the background information necessary for understanding the plastic arts activities at each facility to be discussed below.

(A Genealogy of Ceramic Art Practice at Welfare Facilities in Shiga and Kazuo Yagi’s Involvement: Appendix 1-1)

(Omi Gakuen and Kazuo Itoga’s Welfare Philosophy: Appendix 1-2)


The field of welfare for people with disabilities has identified issues and achieved results while addressing problems, and the necessary facilities and systems have been proposed, demanded, and established by the disabled, their families, and welfare workers. Omi Gakuen also came to face a variety of issues in actively addressing problems concerning children and adults with disabilities. Itoga and others established facilities suitable for people with disabilities and addressed issues in their practice. The welfare philosophy of Omi Gakuen was carried over to the new facilities, leading to further improvement of welfare of the disabled. Omi Gakuen served as a parent facility, and several facilities were established based on each of the issues arising in the institution. These facilities were built one after another branching out from the original institution. Sakura Class, a group designed for severely disabled children at Omi Gakuen, became Ochiho Dormitory (1950), a facility for children with intellectual disabilities; Shigaraki Dormitory (1952) was built for vocational education mainly in the ceramic industry; Azamina (1963) was established as a facility for girls; Ichibaku Dormitory as a facility for adults with disabilities; and Sugi Class, a group for children with severe medical disabilities, was converted into Biwako Gakuen, a facility for children with severe physical and intellectual disabilities. The staff at Omi Gakuen played a central role in the construction of each of these facilities, inheriting the ideas of Itoga and the others. In addition, staff members who worked at related facilities are involved in current communal workplaces and vocational aid centers, reflecting Itoga’s philosophy to this day.

Painting in Ochiho Dormitory and the First Exhibition in Japan

Ochiho Dormitory was initially established as a facility for children with severe intellectual disabilities in Omi Gakuen. When the facility first opened, the children were restless and undisciplined. Kikuji Okayama, the chief instructor, sought to find a suitable activity for them and chose painting. He started with a coloring book, which he evaluated as not recommended as it did not allow the children to expand their creativity. However, the coloring book was originally drawn by Hatsuda, who had been as a childcare worker at Ishiyama Gakuen and learned painting from Tamura. One year later, this would lead to paintings that the children drew themselves. When Okayama went to Tokyo with Itoga, he visited the hospital of Ryuzaburo Shikiba, who was famous for introducing Van Gogh and Kiyoshi Yamashita to the world, and showed him the children’s drawings. Shikiba found them interesting and wished to see more, proposing to hold an exhibition at the Tokyo Times, which he ran. The Ministry of Health and Welfare (currently Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare) was infuriated by this idea, considering it to be a selfish decision. However, this seems to have been the catalyst for the start of exhibitions, as a couple of years later, the Ministry held an exhibition of works by intellectually disabled artists.

The exhibition was held at the Toyoko Department Store in Shibuya, Tokyo in March 1955, and in the same year, the paintings of Ochiho Dormitory were featured in an extra issue of Bijutsu Techo magazine as “Works by Intellectually Delayed Children.” Okayama, as he stood in front of the works of children with severe intellectual disabilities, who at the time were considered uneducable, said, “Seeing these paintings makes me want to believe in their potential. Let them try and they will learn a great deal. I am not simply admiring how interesting the works of children with intellectual disabilities are. I believe in their artistic and social significance.” The exhibition of Ochiho Dormitory was the first of its kind to be held in Japan, and it produced a socially significant response.

Kazuo Yagi and Teaching Clay Work at Omi Gakuen

Kazuo Yagi was born in 1918 as the eldest son of the ceramic artist Isso Yagi in Kiyomizu, Kyoto. In the world of ceramics, where pottery had been limited to plates and bowls, Yagi is known for his work titled Samsa’s Walk, which is ceramic objet d’art free from any practical function or form, as well as for forming an avant-garde group of artists called Sodeisha. In 1954, around the time he began the production of ceramic objets d’art, he started volunteering at Omi Gakuen. His initial intention was to provide charitable financial support, but his encounter with the children of Omi Gakuen changed his mind. He began to emphasize the importance of pure creativity and living together with the children, rather than simply teaching them pottery techniques. He is said to have told the artists in his social circle that the works of children at Omi Gakuen were “as good as Picasso’s” and that he was impressed by them.

Sugie Tanaka, wife of Masato Tanaka, a member of the research department at the time, described Yagi, who was known as a “drunkard” and enjoyed drinking with other staff members during the firing process, as “infamous for loving to party late at night.” His wild behavior seems to have disturbed the staff of Omi Gakuen. However, Shigeno Ishihara, who met Yagi after attending Omi Gakuen, has a different opinion about him. “Mr. Yagi knew he should not be single-minded about doing something for the intellectually disabled. He thought we needed to be more open-minded. Perhaps Mr. Itoga and Mr. Tamura were the only ones who understood his incredible power.” Ishihara was invited to be on a TV show with Yagi. Shigeno describes her impression of him as “a very sensitive person.” According to her description, “he is, although he does not look it, delicate and meticulous, almost to a fault. He was not everyone’s cup of tea, as whenever Mr. Tanaka was serious, he would make fun of him and tell jokes.” Although it was not the case at Azami Dormitory, he may have been disliked by the adults at Omi Gakuen, but the children adored him and laughed when he jokingly made goat sounds (yagi also means “goat” in Japanese).

He used to say that he was “a punk” to justify his behavior and this may have been true, but not when it came to teaching clay work. According to Hatsuda, the aforementioned nurse, “he was a great teacher capable of bringing out the best in children.” Yagi’s educational principles were “never force the children to touch the clay until they approach it on their own,” “never force the children to make things,” and “never interfere with them in their creative process.” He valued the autonomy of the creator to the utmost extent, and this attitude helped the children express themselves. This became the philosophy behind the Soil and Color exhibition and the plastic arts activities in Shiga Prefecture, as described below.

Children mainly made vessels. Yagi appreciated how interesting their works were and continued to encourage them to keep producing excellent creations. Children were very motivated and enjoyed the experience, which was indeed very educational. He never criticized children’s work, but instead encouraged them, telling them how great the pieces they made were and acknowledging their efforts, and generously shared new techniques when asked. “Through the soil, they expressed honestly something in their minds that they could not stop thinking about. As they played with the soil, they created works of art in a natural way, as if the soil made them do so. The process of giving shape to clay was different, but the pieces created in this way, no matter how small they were, and even if they were just chunks of clay, definitely represented messages from the depths of their hearts,” said Yagi, accepting the children’s expressions in every respect.

One of the few documents available contains a record of Yagi’s thoughts on teaching clay work to the children of Omi Gakuen. The above-mentioned policy of the Pottery Department, which uses the word “handcraft,” suggests the direction of plastic arts for intellectually disabled children. It says that plastic arts are born in “the relationship between the living nature of clay and the living hands of human beings,” and that “every action children take is an independent part of their life itself. Rather than perceiving themselves in relation to others, they feel alive only through their own actions and the results of such actions.” In response to the way people work as though being made to work by a machine, he goes so far as to say that “if they are to act like machines, it is as if they are dead”.

After spending a year at Omi Gakuen, Yagi recalled how he “got accustomed to playing traditional handball games and hide-and-seek with children and blowing their noses. When I taught them to water the flowers, they would put on their raincoats and go water them even on rainy days.” He left the institution because he was “struck by the purity and innocence of the children and unable to focus on creative production.”

Although it was only for a short period of time, Yagi’s presence at Omi Gakuen had a decisive influence on the establishment of plastic arts activities in Shiga Prefecture.


(The plastic arts activities started by Kazuo Yagi at Omi Gakuen, were put into practice in the facilities established afterwards. The next section describes the activities of each of these facilities.)

Clay Work at Ichibaku Dormitory

Omi Gakuen was a facility for children under 18 years of age. As Ichibaku House, which was built with the support of the staff, was filled to capacity, Ichibaku Dormitory was established in 1961 as a facility for adults. Ichiji Tamura was appointed as the head of the dormitory, and plans were made to establish a pottery department, which was actually launched in 1965 by Taichi Yoshinaga and others. The activities using clay at Ichibaku Dormitory were conducted by “letting children handle clay freely without producing any goods, while Omi Gakuen focused on the production of goods,” and two pupils of Kazuo Yagi lived in the dormitory to teach the children. The approach at Ichibaku Dormitory was “an attempt to educate children so as to bring out their potential through the free creation of clay objets d’art.” This was named “yugeyaki” (fun ware) and was an attempt to put into practice Yagi’s teaching philosophy.

The clay work room “looked like a slate-roofed workshop. The floor was made of dirt, not yet hardened by steps, and it smelled of earth. The shelves in the room were filled with pieces of work, and in the center of the room were a few workbenches haphazardly placed, along with wooden chairs similar to those used in classrooms shortly after the war. There was also a potbelly stove in the corner of the room.” It was a place where one could feel a vital energy, as “the works themselves looked like living creatures, and the space of the room also felt as if it had a life of its own.”

Taichi Yoshinaga, the instructor, played a central role in the plastic arts activities of Shiga Prefecture, and his practice of clay work at Ichibaku Dormitory had a great influence on his successors.

The Second Biwako Gakuen (Currently Biwako Gakuen Medical Welfare Center Yasu)

The Second Biwako Gakuen was a facility for children with severe mental and physical disabilities built in 1966 in Yasu, Koto district, following the establishment of the First Biwako Gakuen in 1963. It functioned as a hospital and a home for bedridden children with disabilities and those with behavioral disorders.

Inspired by the clay work activities at Ichibaku Dormitory around 1970, Keizo Tanaka began activities using clay for children with severe disabilities, which had been thought to be rather challenging. The project was initially subject to some criticism from the staff, but he took pictures of the expressions on the faces of the students during the activities and held a photo exhibition to gain understanding from the people around him. Although the clay work activities were approved, the project faced issues including storage space for the clay works and stains on the floor (although this was a facility for severely disabled children with a playroom, it was not equipped with a work space). Hidehiko Okazaki, who was the director of the institution, was supportive of the installation of a clay work room and raised funds for its construction. The clay work room was completed in 1979. It was a “7-meter square reinforced concrete prefabricated room. The bottom was stacked with concrete block bricks, with thin steel plates placed on the top. The floor was made of concrete and the roof was covered with slates. The room contained only work desks, foldable chairs, a few light duty racks, and a tiled sink in the corner for washing hands.”

Tanaka’s practice in this clay work room was to familiarize the children with the texture of clay in a place different from their daily environment, and to engage them in a fun “play” activity. He also said, “The world of clay changes its shape to adapt to each individual and let them express themselves.” An original exhibition, which was named The World of Nyanyunyo for the sounds clay makes when handled, was also held in various places. The work Frog by Komei Bekki, a student of the institute, was used for a commemorative stamp issued at the World Ceramic Art Festival held in Shigaraki in 1991, and his clay work activities were made into a movie called My Season.

The works were fired not in a wood-fired kiln but in a kerosene kiln located at the back of the clay work room, using a unique firing technique so as not to spoil the expression of the students, and the room was filled with many pieces. However, this clay work room was torn down in 2004 when the facility was moved. (A clay work room has been installed in the new facility and activities still continue today.)


In addition to those mentioned in this paper, many other instructors in Shiga have been involved in plastic arts activities. Readers may refer to the interviews conducted for this study. A brief introduction is provided below.

Masaharu Iketani was the clay work instructor at Ochiho Dormitory, Kaize Dormitory, and Yamanami Community Workshop (currently Yamanami Studio). He made molds of cylindrical objects such as clay pipes using the coiling method (which allowed the creation of large and tall pieces). The molds were patterned to look like a person to create clay figures. Iketani’s method was to fire the works into black ceramics. Nowadays, the Ritto Nakayoshi Workshop has built a handmade atelier at the foot of the mountain, with a climbing kiln where the works are fired. In addition, Shigeno Ishihara taught weaving and azami-weaving at Azami Dormitory, and Masataka Inoue engaged in activities using clay at Momiji Dormitory. A theater activity called The Adventures of Robin Hood was also held at both locations. During the period of the Soil and Color exhibition, Kohoku Dormitory and Hikone Gakuen, a facility for the visually impaired, also began to engage in plastic arts activities. The Shigaraki Youth Dormitory has its own unique approach, as described below.

After 1990, as the living space for people with disabilities shifted to the community, the number of day care facilities increased, and “workplaces” such as community workshops and day care facilities began to engage in activities other than labor. In the first half of the 1990s, Yamanami Studio started to engage in plastic arts activities as atelier activities in day care facilities, and the works produced there were exhibited in pioneering outsider art exhibitions across Japan. In the latter half of the 1990s, Karasaki Yayoi Workshop also began to engage in similar activities.

Those in charge of the activities described in this section participated in the exhibition Soil and Color, thereby learning valuable lessons. As discussed earlier, while the practices of Omi Gakuen continue to be used today, issues have also been identified.


In many welfare facilities, because employees are hired as welfare workers, it is difficult for them to be in charge of art activities for many years. Until the days of Soil and Color, individual staff members were assigned to be in charge of art activities long-term, and established an era of art activities at their facilities. However, now those staff members have retired. In many facilities, the retirement of the person in charge of art activities makes it difficult to continue the activities. This is because it takes many years to master the art of clay firing and teaching techniques, and more importantly, it is not easy for staff who started their careers as welfare workers to become interested in and enthusiastic about the work of identifying and drawing out the expressive potential of people with disabilities. It is undoubtedly a profession in itself.

However, in the current severe welfare situation, the turnover rate is high, and the number of employees who stay in one workplace for a long time has been on the decline. In some cases, when an employee retires with no one to take over the position, the plastic arts activities have to be suspended. As the influence of the staff member in charge of such activities is significant, even if the activities are ongoing, the retirement of the staff member in charge will result in the end of the activities. The current Services and Supports for Persons with Disabilities Act has left facilities with no financial leeway, making it increasingly difficult to devote human resources and time to cultural activities.

The practices described above can be said to have established a new era of expression for people with disabilities.


– Ichiji Tamura, Kappa Swamp, 1999, NHK Publishing, Inc.

– Kazuo Itoga Collected Edition Publication Society, Kazuo Itoga Collection I, 1982, NHK Publishing, Inc.

– Kazuo Itoga Collected Edition Publication Society, Kazuo Itoga Collection II, 1982, NHK Publishing, Inc.

Omi Gakuen Annual Report No.6, Shiga Prefectural Omi Gakuen


Appendix 1-1: Genealogy of Kazuo Yagi’s involvement with pottery activities at welfare facilities in Shiga

1940 A climbing kiln was built at Omi Gakuen. (Nango Pottery Kiln)

1944 Omi Gakuen started pottery production.

1948 Kazuo Yagi founded Sodeisha with Osamu Suzuki and Hikaru Yamada.

1953 Kazuo Yagi joined Omi Gakuen.

1955 Kazuo Yagi became a volunteer instructor of the Pottery Department at Omi Gakuen.

1965 Ichibaku Dormitory began pottery activities. (Instructor: Taichi Yoshinaga)

1966 Exhibition and sale of Ichimugi Dormitory’s works (Hanshin Department Store, Osaka)

Kazuo Yagi dispatched two of his pupils to work with clay at Ichibaku Dormitory.

*Since this year, exhibitions have been held every year at Azami and Momiji Dormitories.

1975 Exhibition of Works by People in Welfare Facilities was launched (continued until around 1982).

Launch of the clay work club (Second Biwako Gakuen)

1977 Installation of the clay work room at the Second Biwako Gakuen (Instructor: Keizo Tanaka)

1979 The exhibition The World of Clay and Color: Art of People with Disabilities held at the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art (held 10 times once every two years since then)

1981 World Ceramic Art Festival Singing Soil Exhibition held at the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park

1991 The Children Kazuo Yagi Met held at the Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park


*Years of establishment of the secondary facilities of Omi Gakuen

1946 Omi Gakuen

1950 Ochiho Dormitory (for children with severe disabilities)

1952 Shigaraki Gakuen, Azami Dormitory

1961 Ichibaku Dormitory (for adults with severe disabilities)

1963 Biwako Gakuen (for children with severe illnesses or disorders)

1965 The Second Biwako Gakuen

1969 Momiji Dormitory


Appendix 1-2: Omi Gakuen and Kazuo Itoga’s Welfare Philosophy

Omi Gakuen is a facility for intellectually disabled children founded by Kazuo Itoga, Taro Ikeda, and Ichiji Tamura in 1946 in the Nango area (southern part of Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture). Kazuo Itoga, the founder, advocated that children and adults with disabilities, who were previously a mere object of charitable welfare, be the bearers of a new society, be “the light of the world.” This idea is represented by his words that “No matter how serious their disabilities are, these children achieve self-realization in a unique way irreplaceable by anyone else’s. They are born as human beings and grow as human beings in their own way. This self-realization is creation and production. Our wish is to create a society where people recognize that these children with severe disabilities are also worthy producers. We do not seek a policy of pity to ‘shed light on these children’ but rather to polish them up and make them shine, because they are the very materials that can shine on their own. The idea is to ‘let these children be the light of the world’. This means that we must guarantee the right to personality development with which these children are born.”

Source: Report on the Survey and Research on the Plastic Arts Activities of People with Disabilities in Shiga (published on April 1, 2009)

Project funded by the Pola Art Foundation

Related Articles