Listed as one of the most influential potters of the 20th century in the Japanese ceramics magazine Honoho Geijutsu, Yanagihara has had a distinguished history of exhibitions and awards. After graduating in 1960 from Kyoto Art University where he studied ceramics, he considered abandoning ceramics for sculpture. Instead he developed a sculptural form of ceramics, producing boldy shaped and brightly colored functional and non-functional works. Yanagihara has taught at Washington State University, Osaka Art University, Alfred University in New York and Scripps College in California. Born in Uwajima, Ehime Prefecture, he lives and works in Kyoto.