He was born in Kyoto and his real name was Aoki Sahei.
At an early age he studied with the great scholar and seal carver Ko Fyo (1722-1784). He later studied pottery and soon became famous for his reproductions of classic Chinese-style ceramics.
Mokubei (木米) had judged the temperature of the kiln with a sound emitted from the fire in it. Therefore, his ears always swelled up in red.
He lost hearing in later years and used his new name Robei (聾米: Deaf-bei) instead of Mokubei (木米).
He also gained fame for his literati paintings.