Born in the Awata district of Kyoto, Ito Tozan I began to study painting at the age of 12 under Koizumi Togaku. Togaku and his wife pursued the production of tea bowls and decorated hand-molded earthenware teapots. In 1863, Tozan followed his teacher into the world of ceramics and began studying under Kameya Kyokutei. In addition Tozan I studied the work of such artists as Takahashi Dohachi III, Murata Kisui, Kanzan Denshichi, Obiyama Yohei, Hitomojiya Chubei and Iwakura Kahei. In 1867, he constructed a shop alongside the Shirokawa River close to the Gion District. Tozan I exhibited frequently, winning prizes in Amsterdam (1883), Paris (1889), Chicago (1893), the 4th National Industrial Exposition (1895), Paris (1900), and the 5th National Industrial Exposition (1903). In 1899, he was awarded the Ryokuju Hosho (Green Ribbon Medal), and in 1909, he moved his shop to Sanjo Shirakawa-suji. In 1912, he received the go or art name To-o (the Old Man of Pottery) along with gold and silver seals from Lord Kuninomiya Kuniyoshi. In Taisho 6 or 1917, he was appointed a Teishitsu Gigeiin or an Imperial Artist. In 1919, he assisted in the revival of OMI Zeze pottery, constructing a kiln in the Eastern Yamashina district of Kyoto. This kiln was first fired on July 9th of 1920, and Tozan I passed away three days later at the age of 76. Ito Tozan I was a leading figure in the Kyoto ceramics world during the Meiji and Taisho eras. His work is in the collections of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Tokyo National Museum.