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SHIRO OTANI was born in Shigaraki in 1936. For the majority of American potters, whose awareness of pottery came late in adolescence through the introduction received in university ceramics classes, it may be difficult to understand all that being born in Shigaraki implies; and how, for better or worse, it shapes a person's view of ceramic art. Try to imagine, if you can, being raised in a town whose identity was formed by the esoteric and poetic descriptions of its wares voiced by 15th-century tea masters, and becoming aware from your earliest moments of the uniqueness of Shigaraki pottery. Consider what it would be like to work your way through high school as a laborer in various potteries; and, after graduation, to study with a pottery decorator, then spend five years decorating over 50 hibachi a day. This was Otani's youth. Shigaraki pottery was more than just part of his daily life; it became part of his psyche.