My work in clay has been a succession/evolution of ideas over a thirty year period. I take certain elements that “work” in one series and often build the next series based on those elements. That could include the color of the clay body, the colors of the surface treatment, the texture of the surface, the form or the building technique. I enjoy working with the idea in mind of smaller parts making up the whole. Tiles covering a wall. Vessels made with coil and brick-like pieces, or cut and torn clay parts that make a vessel look basket-like. The vessel form appeals to me on a level that I don’t understand. It is a sort of mystery. When I am out in the world and see such a form I am immediately drawn to it. As much as I am concerned with surface texture it is ultimately the simple form of a vessel that appeals to my eye. I would like to think my work, and the act of making the work, connects me with past cultures who used the same materials to make vessels for ceremony or everyday use. I like the idea of being a part of the long history of people making things with their hands.
Akiyama's major concerns revolve around the physical properties of clay as a material and his exploration, through the manipulation of his medium, of the tension between surface and form, between the ordered and the organic. This direct relationship with his materials and commitment to experimentation and reinvention has made Akiyama one of Japan's most important contemporary artists. Currently he serves as the chairman of the ceramics department at Kyoto City University of Arts.