This site introduces various types of pottery in Japan. This article is about Shigaraki ware. It is well known for the “Tanuki (Japanese raccoon dog) figure” you surely have seen before once or more.
What is Shigaraki ware?
Shigaraki ware is a type of pottery produced in and around Shigaraki Town, Shiga Prefecture. Along with Bizen, Tamba, Echizen, Seto, and Tokoname, it belongs to Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns.
Features of Shigaraki ware
Shigaraki ware is featured by a number of simple works that avoid painting on them and make use of natural colors given by the firing process. The shape and color depend on temperature, the way of firing, and soil conditions, so every work becomes different and unique. Shigaraki ware has been used regularly by tea ceremony masters since a long time ago. When a Shigaraki-ware work is fired, its parts covered by ashes turn blackish brown. This is called “Koge (burned)” or “Hai-kaburi (ash-covered)” and appreciated with curiosity for its subtle atmosphere in pottery.
Shigaraki ware is famous for the “Tanuki figure.” Shigaraki Town, the producer of Shigaraki ware, has a famous tourist attraction “Tanuki-mura (Raccoon dog village),” where as many as 10,000 variously-sized Shigaraki-ware Tanuki welcome tourists. Tanuki has been considered a lucky charm since a long time ago, so the ceramics of Tanuki have already existed as tea utensils in the Edo period. However, it was in the Meiji period that the production of Tanuki figures started on a full scale. It is said that a potter named Tetsuzo Fujiwara produced the first Tanuki figure wishing to recreate a Tanuki drumming its belly he had seen by chance before. The completion of the figure owed the fact that Shigaraki ware is cut out for big pottery.
The Shigaraki-ware Tanuki suddenly became popular in 1951. Emperor Showa was moved by many Shigaraki-ware Tanuki figures lined up along the roadside during his royal visit to the area. Even a poem was composed by the emperor. The scene was broadcasted by many newspapers and TV news. The Shigaraki-ware Tanuki immediately became popular all around Japan. Now, for Japanese people, “Shigaraki ware = Tanuki” almost stands.
History of Shigaraki ware
Back in the Nara period, Emperor Shomu built a capital named Shigaraki Palace. Shigaraki ware is said to have originated from the event where clay roof tiles were burnt then. The name “Shigaraki” has two possible origins. One says it was named after “Shigeru ki (lush trees in Japanese)” because the area had thick lush forests deep in mountains. Another possibility is a Korean word with a similar sound that means a place surrounded by mountains. There were many potters summoned from Korea back then.
In the Azuchi-momoyama period, more focus was put on the production of tea utensils, which resulted in the creation of many Shigaraki-ware masterpieces. The period saw the birth of the Shigaraki-ware wabi-sabi, which has been passed down well to the present. In the Edo period, they started producing daily goods such as Donabe (earthenware pot) besides tea utensils. In the Meiji period, Hibachi (brazier) of Shigaraki ware became very popular and accounted for more than 80% of the domestic production volume. Also, the Tanuki figure was born and spread all over Japan in this period. Shigaraki ware developed a lot in the Meiji period. Afterward, the production of Hibachi ended because electricity and gas grew popular in the Showa period. However, they have been making a wide range of products including tiles, bowls, Tanuki figures, and eating utensils.
In Japan, there are many types of pottery including the 47 designated traditional crafts. Among them, this article introduces “Echizen ware,” one of Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns.
What is Echizen ware?
Echizen ware is a type of pottery that is produced in and around Echizen Town located in western Reihoku District, Fukui Prefecture. It is a member of Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns (Japanese heritage), along with Bizen ware, Tokoname ware, Seto ware, Tamba ware, Shigaraki ware. Its history is long. Over 200 pottery sites have been discovered so far.
Features of Echizen ware
Let us see the features of Echizen ware
Simple and touch daily goods
The most notable feature of Echizen ware is its toughness. Since the clay used for Echizen ware contains much iron, which offers high heat resistance, it can be fired at high temperatures so that the clay gets hardened with heat. This makes the vessel strong and watertight to be used as daily utensils such as jars, grinding bowls, pots, and storage bowls.
It makes tasty tea
The clay used for Echizen ware contains much iron, which reacts with bitter ingredients of tea to weaken the bitterness of tea and make a mild flavor. Also, since Echizen ware does not use glazes, it has small holes on its surface. They absorb unnecessary impurities of tea and make pure and tasty tea.
Late blooming masterpieces
Echizen ware is highly evaluated now. However, it was sort of disregarded a short while ago. Around the Edo period, Echizen ware was here and there as daily necessities of common people in their life. No one regarded it as an artistic or craft product. No historical values were found in it. The turning point appeared in 1952. After old kiln sites of Echizen ware were investigated, Echizen ware was designated as Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns. Furthermore, several names that existed for it were unified into “Echizen ware,” which successfully promoted it as a craft product.
History of Echizen ware
Echizen ware took a long time to see the light of day, but its history dates back to 850 years ago in the Heian period. Back then, they mainly produced daily necessities and kitchen utensils such as jars, grinding bowls, and pots. At the end of the Heian period, they started producing the characteristic “Yakishime ceramics,” which are fired and hardened at high temperatures without using glazes.
In the late Heian period, they started shipping by boat to areas that covered from Hokkaido to Tottori, which popularized Echizen ware to make it a part of general life.
However, the situation changed dramatically from the end of Edo period to the Meiji period. Luxurious pottery such as tea utensils became popular and the whole country was modernized incorporating Western culture. The demand for Echizen ware as a simple-looking commodity producer kept decreasing.
There had been long patience since then until the excavation of Echizen ware’s old kiln sites discovered its historical values in 1942. After that, the number of potteries increased and more and more tourists visited Echizen for Echizen ware. It made a great comeback, keeping its position today.
Have you ever heard of the term Enshu Seven Kilns? If you are a tea drinker or ceramics lover, you might know it. This article introduces “Takatori ware,” one of Enshu Seven Kilns. It is deeply involved with the world of tea.
What is Takatori ware?
Takatori ware is a type of pottery produced around Fukuoka Prefecture’s Toho village, Asakura District and Nishijin, Sawara Ward, Fukuoka City. It has been actively producing tea pottery for many generations. It cannot be missed in the world of tea ceremony.
Features of Takatori ware
Below are the features of Takatori ware.
Takatori ware created the Kirei-sabi style
“Kirei-sabi” is an aesthetic form (concept/style) of tea ceremony that derived from “wabi-cha” of Sen-no-Rikyu. It was first created and established by Takatori ware. While tea ceremony has various expressions to represent beauty, Kirei-sabi means “refined, sophisticated beauty.” Takatori-ware is ceramic, but it is thin and light like porcelain. The fine delicate earthenware glazed with a beautiful color of finely balanced composition is literally a refined and sophisticated piece of beauty.
One of Enshu Seven Kilns
Enshu Seven Kilns refer to the seven kilns that baked Enshu Kobori’s favorite tea utensils. Takatori ware is counted as one of them. The other six are Shitoro ware in Tohtomi, Zeze ware in Omi, Asahi ware in Yamashiro-uji, Akahada ware in Yamato, Kosobe ware in Settsu, and Agano ware in Buzen.
The charm of Takatori ware is its beautiful color tones produced by special glazes such as Takatori glaze. Secret art is hidden in the Glazes of Takatori. However, the book of secret on glazes is handed only to a successor every generation and written in the way only the memory keepers can understand. In the long history, the secret still has never been disclosed.
History of Takatori ware
Takatori ware has a history of 400 years. It was first created during the Azuchi-momoyama period. At that time, a samurai who rendered distinguished services to a battle was rewarded with a masterpiece of tea ceremony not with territory. A family’s social standing and power were even judged by its possession of a single masterpiece tea bowl. In that situation, Nagamasa Kuroda, the first lord of Kuroda Domain ordered a Korean potter named Hachizan to set up a pottery kiln, which led to today’s Takatori ware. Back then, Takatori ware was exclusively to pay tribute to the domain lord.
A pottery boom still continued in the Edo period. In the Edo period, the production of masterpieces was generally prioritized more than daily necessities. Takatori ware thoroughly concentrated its full efforts to make masterpieces, while throwing away all the others by breaking them. As a result, the glazing technique and method that have been passed down to the present days were finalized after trials and errors.
It has been 400 years since then, but Takatori ware is still a producer of unique and unmatched masterpieces today. Takatori ware used to be available only to few authorized people and tea ceremony masters because of its exclusive dedication to tea pottery masterpieces. It never came on a common market, but as times change, it gradually showed up one the market. Today it is used as daily tableware as well. With its wide variety that covers from traditional tea potteries to daily necessities, Takatori ware will keep evolving as tableware beloved by many people.
Pottery is part of our life. Without knowing it, we are using Japanese traditional pottery for Kyusu (Japanese teapot), Donabe (Earthenware pot), and other utensils. This article introduces tanba ware/tanba-tachikui ware among many types of pottery.
What is Tanba ware?
Tanba ware/Tanba-tachikui ware (hereinafter “tanba ware”) is a type of ceramics that are produced around Konda in tanba-Sasayama City, Hyogo Prefecture. It is one of Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns along with Tokoname Ware, Seto Ware, Echizen Ware, etc. tanba-ware potteries have been consistently producing simple livingwares since their opening, while many other potteries change the type of products with changing times.
Features of Tanba ware
tanba ware has the following features:
Counterclockwise potter’s wheel
While many types of pottery use a clockwise potter’s wheel, tanba ware has been using a counterclockwise one, which is rare in Japan, for many generations. The traditional technique has been passed down to the present days.
Most potteries are small-sized
Most of the potteries of tanba ware are small-sized. They do soli making to completion all by themselves. Works are made by artists who have returned from their training journey across the country. Every individual artist utilizes his\her own experience and techniques and shows a unique style. Also, tanba ware is featured by its small production volume because almost all the tanba-ware ceramics are made by artists.
Only one color and pattern in the world
Tanba ware is baked for many hours at high temperatures. Pine firewood ashes fall on a pottery work and melts with iron contained in the raw materials of the pottery. The chemical reaction presents a unique pattern and color. The representation called “Hai-kaburi (ash-covered)” is beloved as tanba-ware’s distinctive color and pattern. Hai-kaburi makes various colors and patterns depending on the touch and strength of flames and the way of covering ashes. Every single work is unique.
History of Tanba ware
Tanba ware changed its name several times in its history of 800 years as times shift.
Its Birth to Azuchi–Momoyama period
The production area of tanba ware is around Konda in Sasayama City, Hyogo Prefecture. It used to be called “Onobara ware” because back then the place was Settsu-Sumiyoshi Shrine’s manor with the same name.
In the Edo period, the introduction of Korean style climbing kilns enabled massive and quick production of ceramics, which dramatically increased the output. This period is called Kamaya Period because they built climbing kilns at the foot of mountains in Kamaya. In this period, the name changed from Onobara ware to “tanba ware.” Tea pottery of tanba ware is also famous, but the tea pottery production became active only in the Edo Period, slightly later than other types of pottery.
Meiji period to present
From the Meiji period, tanba ware started being produced mainly in Tachikui District and called “Tachikui ware.” And then, they sent an application to change the name to “tanba-tachikui ware” to combine tanba ware and Tachikui ware, when the country designated their pottery as a national traditional craft. The application was approved and the name officially became “tanba-tachikui ware.”
Banko ware is perhaps not familiar to most of you. However, it is one of the ceramics that tea drinkers should definitely know.
What is Banko ware?
Banko ware is a type of pottery produced mainly in Yokkaichi City and Komono Town, Mie Prefecture. It is designated as one of the nation’s traditional crafts. The number of potteries exceeds 100. It is a representative local industry of Yokkaichi City. The name of Banko ware was derived from a stamp that says “Banko-fueki (constant eternity).” It was engraved by an Edo period wealthy merchant, whose hobby was ceramics. He stamped the message in the hope that his ceramic works would be passed down forever.
Features of Banko ware
Donabe (earthenware pot) and Kyusu (Japanese teapot) are synonymous with Banko ware.
Surprisingly, the Donabe of Banko ware accounts for 80–90% of the domestic Donabe production. You can consider most of the domestic Donabe are Banko ware. Your Donabe at home is most likely Banko ware as well. Banko ware is highly resistant to heat. It can be used with open fire, gas stove, and charcoal fire, etc.
Pot earth, a raw material of Banko ware, contains 40–50% of lithium ores with high heat resistance, which strengthens a Donabe to be grilled or even burned without water. These days, high-tech new products such as induction cooking Donabe or tagines (earthenware pots to cook Moroccan cuisine) are actively being developed.
Kyusu as synonym for Banko ware
A Banko-ware Kyusu is as famous as its Donabe. While an iconic product of Banko ware is Kyusu of Shidei (a non-glazed type of ceramics), new types of Kyusu such as character ones and easy ones to throw used tea leaves are becoming popular among a wide range of generations.
A Banko-ware Kyusu is made of red clay rich in iron, which reacts with tannin, a bitter ingredient of tea. It makes tea of a milder flavor with moderate bitterness. Also, it does not use glaze, leaving small holes on its surface. Thanks to these holes that absorb unnecessary impurities of tea, it brews a pure, tasty tea. Besides flavor, it has been receiving tremendous support because of its gradually changing texture and color tone and growing profoundness with use.
History of Banko ware
This section introduces the history of Banko ware.
Edo period: Banko-ware Kyusu was created
Banko ware originated from the engraved wish “Banko-fueki” that was stamped on leisure ceramic works of Rozan Nunami, a wealthy merchant and knowledgeable tea ceremony master in Kuwana. Rozan was good at incorporating exotic novel patterns and shapes. Under the national seclusion of that time, his works gained great popularity among the high society including Japanese intellectual people and the shogunate family.
After the death of Rozan, Japanese tea culture shifted from Matcha to Sencha (steeped green tea). A successor of Rozan was quick to study and invent a Kyusu necessary to make Sencha. The successor’s Banko-ware Kyusu was highly evaluated both in Japan and foreign countries.
Meiji period: Banko-ware grew rapidly through semi-porcelain development
In the Meiji period, Banko-ware fortified its position by receiving many prizes at various domestic and international exhibitions. Around that time, their manufacturing development of semi-porcelain, a type of pottery that is made of porcelain and ceramic mixed together, became successful. This promoted a rapid growth of the Bank-ware utensil production.
Showa Period to present: Donabe became number one in Japan
In the late Showa period, the production of Donabe became number one in Japan with a new technique that improved its heat resistance. Since then, its output has been increasing rapidly. Today most of the domestic Donabe are Banko ware. Kyusu also became so popular that some say “Banko-ware Kyusu is a synonym for Banko ware.” Both Donabe and Kyusu keep gaining new fans.
Seto ware is counted as one of Japan’s Three Major Ceramics, along with Arita ware and Mino ware. It has a great influence in the world of ceramics. This article introduces Seto ware.
What is Seto ware?
Seto ware is a type of pottery and porcelain that is produced in Seto City, Aichi Prefecture. The city’s hilly area has a stratum called the Seto Group, from which they can collect full of good-quality kibushi and gaerome clay, raw materials for ceramics, and silica sand, raw material for glass. This enables the constant production of high-quality ceramics. In Japan, the term “Setomono” refers to the entire pottery and porcelain collectively. The term derives from Seto ware. This knowledge gives you a hint of the Seto ware’s impact on Japanese ceramics.
Features of Seto ware
Seto ware is counted as one of Japan’s Three Major Ceramics and one of Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns with its historically authentic origin. In particular, Seto ware has many prestigious tea utensils. It is featured by the wide variety of works utilizing rich raw materials for pottery, such as good-quality clay and porcelain stones. They produce both simple ceramics with a rough texture and white-themed porcelains with a smooth touch like glass. They are also used for architectural porcelain and the like besides eating utensils and decorative figurines. Additionally, Seto ware currently has two designated traditional crafts: Akazu ware and Seto-sometsuke ware.
History of Seto Ware
The history of Seto ware dates back to 1,000 years ago. It has been produced until now without cessation.
Kamakura Period: Seto ware changed pottery history
Seto ware originated in the Kofun period, but its big turning point was in the Kamakura Period. For the first time in Japanese pottery history, Seto ware employed ceramic glaze. Simply put, ceramic glaze is a substance to paste on the ceramic surface for better water resistance. Most of our daily utensils are glazed. The use of ceramic glaze was indeed a big turning point in the history of Japanese pottery. Around that time, tea pottery became the mainstream of Seto ware and beloved by many tea ceremony masters. Only ceramics were produced that time. Porcelain production started during the Edo period.
Meiji Period: Seto Ware became renowned abroad
In the Meiji period, the export of Seto ware started. Due to its good quality, the production of toys for export increased. Seto ware was successful with many overseas trade clients such as Walt Disney.
Showa period to present
Seto ware kept growing and reached new heights of prosperity. However, it incurred great damage after the bubble burst because low price daily goods came on the domestic market from foreign countries like China. However, when they resumed trading, they also activated the export of Seto-ware utensil sets and toys. Especially their toys gained high popularity and the moniker of “Seto Novelty” abroad. Seto Novelty became a synonym for Seto ware. With the excellent quality remaining, today’s Seto ware has many simple and approachable products that ordinary people with little knowledge can pick up without reserve. It has evolved into pottery beloved by wider generations.
There are various types of pottery and porcelain in Japan. Among them, this article is about Hagi ware, which is deeply involved with “tea.”
What is Hagi ware?
It is a type of pottery produced mainly in Hagi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture and designated as a traditional craft. Hagi ware has been developed as tea pottery, praised like “Raku first, Hagi second, and Karatsu third.” This expression reflects the rating by or preference of tea ceremony masters, which shows how Hagi ware has been highly valued for many generations.
Features of Hagi ware
Hagi ware is featured by numberless fine cracks on it due to its clay type and production process. These cracks are called “Kannyu.” After using a tea utensil for many years, the ingredients of tea and the like gradually permeate Kannyu to make a subtle change to the color of the tea utensil. This phenomenon is called “Chanare” or “Hagi-no-nanabake” among tea ceremony masters, who appreciate Hagi ware as a Chawan (tea bowl) that changes its expression according to its user. In addition, while there are 100 potteries of Hagi ware but few of them employ volume production. Most of them are small-sized potteries and active as artists. This is why Hagi ware has many one-of-a-kinds.
Hagi ware is popular as tea pottery. Most of the products are simple with the untouched materials utilized. Very little coloring and decoration are done. As a result, it is easy to see the changes of color and design influenced by the condition of clay, the day’s temperature and humidity, and the firing process. Fans can spend a fun time on finding a favorite product among various designs and color tones. Hagi ware requires more care for maintenance than other types of pottery, but the process of gradually producing an original ceramic is the charm and feature of Hagi ware.
History of Hagi ware
The history of Hagi ware dates back to 400 years ago.
Early Edo period: Hagi ware was created
Japan of the time was experiencing a great Chawan boom even called “pottery war.” Many Daimyo (Japanese feudal lords) had potters brought from Korea. In fact, the originator of Hagi ware was not Japanese but the Korean potters Li brothers, who were summoned to Japan that time. Li brothers started producing pottery for Terumoto Mori, a Daimyo and tea ceremony master. This led to today’s Hagi ware.
Meiji period to Showa period: Non-tea-pottery production began
In the Meiji period, Hagi ware established its position by receiving several awards and building a deep relationship with the Omote-senke school. The expression “Raku first, Hagi second, and Karatsu third” emerged. However, to get over the depression of that time in Japan, besides tea pottery, they started producing daily necessities and ornaments such as touristic accessories for foreigners.
Postwar period to present
After the war, Japanese economy recovered and the entire pottery industry, not only Hagi ware, remarkably developed. Even another pottery boom occurred to increase the number of kilns across the country. Then, individual artists of Hagi ware became active in pottery production, which made Hagi ware known as a representative of Japanese pottery, not limited to tea pottery.
There have been many pottery produced from ancient times in Japan.
This time, we are going to introduce the most used pottery ware in Japan: Mino ware.
What is Mino ware?
Mino ware is the pottery produced in and around the towns of Tajimi, Toki and Mizunami in the Tono region, Gifu
Mino ware should certainly be available in most households, as more than 60% of tableware produced in Japan is Mino ware.
Features of Mino ware
The most remarkable feature of Mino ware is that “There is no feature”.
Unlike other pottery brands, there are no certain techniques or rules to produce Mino ware. We call the pottery products “Mino ware” simply because they were produced in Mino. To be extreme, any pottery products could be Mino ware, no matter how they are produced or what designs are painted. Therefore, there are no features of Mino ware.
The most famous pottery of many Mino ware products is called “Momoyama style”.
The Momoyama style pottery has various types such as “Shino” that was first dyed in the Taisho era, “Oribe” that was named after Sen-Rikyu’s disciple Watabe who’d loved it, “Kizeto” that is famous for teaware and has been used by tea experts from ancient times, and “Setoguro” that is famous for teaware with the stable bottoms.
Although they have different characteristics, they are all called Mino ware as they are all produced in Mino.
Having no rules doesn’t mean that the quality is not as good as others brands’: There are 15 types of Mino ware designated as Japanese traditional crafts. They have good reputations as they are made to be easily used on a daily basis and designed according to the time and trends.
History of Mino ware
The history of Mino ware is 1500 years.
From the Kofun period, when Sue pottery originated, to the Heian period
Mino ware is one of the pottery that originated based on Sue pottery that had been produced in the Kofun period, and gradually changed while spreaded out in many places.
In the Heian period, pottery with glaze like Chinese pottery got to be produced and became popular especially in the noble class, and that ended up resulting in distributing tableware nationwide.
From the Aduchi-Momoyama period, when Mino ware became sensational, to the Edo period
The main types of Mino ware that are “Shino”, “Kiseto” and “Setoguro” originated in the Momoyama period, when the tea ceremony had been popular.
Many Miino porcelain masterpieces that would be historically valuable were made under the preservation of Oda Nobunaga, which were also favorites of Sen-Rikyu and Furuta Oribe
In the Meiji era, when the phantom porcelain originated.
In the Meiji era, the Mino potters got to be highly evaluated in foreign countries, which expanded the exportation of Mino ware.
At the same time, they focused on producing porcelain products, which was when porcelain with delicate design painted and dyed on the surface originated. This would later be the phantom porcelain called “Nishiura porcelain”.
Nishiura porcelain was highly valued both in and out of Japan as it had won an award at the Paris Expo, but it came to an end due to some reasons such as lack of successors.
After, the population of Mino ware producers and factories continued to grow, and now Mino ware is the biggest pottery brand and became 60% of tableware market share.
What comes up on your mind when you hear “pottery”?
There are so many types of pottery such as ; artistic ones with exquisite painting decorations like an art work, gorgeous ones with red and gold painting, and ones with a glossy surface. Do you know there is a type of pottery that is simply made without any painting decorations to utilize the texture of clay?
What is Bizen ware?
Bizen ware is the pottery produced in Bizen, Okayama.
It is one of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan and originated more than 1000 years ago.
Now, we are introduce one of the oldest existing pottery brands in Japan
Features of Bizen ware
Bizen ware has features coming from its process of producing.
Bizen ware is a simple type of pottery to enjoy the material itself as it is baked with no painting decorations or glazing.
Although it has no colorful or gorgeous decorations, each one of the products would become “one-and-only” because the hue turns out differently according to the conditions of clay, temperature and humidity, charcoal and ash to use.
Although Bizen ware does not look vibrant at all, its hue that’s naturally made looks more tasteful the more you look, and you would never get tired of it.
High Strength and Solidity
Bizen ware is strong as it is fired at 1200 - 1300 ℃ for about 2 weeks. It is even said that Bizen ware never breaks even when thrown down on the ground.
So, many Bizen ware products such as pots that need to be solid, vases and huge water jars are produced.
Making tea taste good
Bizen ware has many small holes because it is not glazed. That is why Bizen ware makes tea taste good: Tea would taste nice and clear as the small holes absorb extra impurities in the tea.
Also, it is said that Bizen ware even makes water taste better: The iron-rich clay to make Bizen ware is baked at a high temperature, which leads to effects of high far-infrared rays that make water taste better.
Making cut flowers last long
Bizen ware is often used to arrange cut flowers: The small holes let air through, which makes the flowers last long.
History of Bizen ware
Bizen ware has a history of over 1000 years from back in the Heian period.
The Heian period when Bizen ware originated
Bizen ware is originally a result that Sue pottery, that had been imported from Korea in the Kofun period, changed over the time.
Sue pottery was popular among the people for daily use in the late Heian period as it would hardly break with its high strength.
Later, Sue pottery developed in many places nationwide, and one of them is Bizen ware. Then it would gradually get close to the current appearance in the Kamakura period.
Flourished with Wabi-cha in the Muromachi period.
While Wabi-cha (current Japanese style tea ceremony) developed during this period, Bizen ware, whose simple design would match with the concept of Wabi-cha, became popular.
Later, to the middle of the Aduchi-Momoyama period, Bizen ware would have a heyday as the tea ceremony developed.
Crises from the Edo period to the Meiji era.
The popularity of Bizen ware drastically faded while the trend of tea ceremony had shifted and gorgeous pottery had got to come out.
It continued to go into a decline in the Meiji era.
Comeback in the Showa era and present
Although Bizen ware had gone into an unstoppable decline for periods, it made a comeback when the potter Kaneshige Toyo had been designated as a living national treasure, and Bizen ware had been designated as a traditional craft.
Since then, Bizen ware with authentic Japanese simple design has been highly valued and continues to attract people in and out of Japan.
Even those who are not familiar with pottery may have heard of Kutani ware.
The luxurious and gorgeous colors and painting decorations are simply unforgettable.
Now, we are going to introduce Kutani ware that has been highly valued in and out of Japan.
What is Kutani ware?
Kutani ware is the pottery produced in Kanazawa, Kaga, Mino and Komatsu in Ishikawa and famous for its brilliant teaware.
Kutani ware has been chosen as a gift from the Imperial Household Agency for foreign celebrities and royal families such as the wedding gift for Prince Charles.
But this doesn’t mean that the people can’t afford, Kutani ware has a variety of products for a wide range of prices, from masterpiece to household item.
Features of Kutani ware
There are a few features of Kutani ware, and these below are well-known.
Pottery and Porcelain, two different materials
Many porcelain products are generally classified as either clay pottery, or porcelain stone pottery. However, Kutani ware has both: Thick and chubby one, and thin and light one. Their appearance, characteristics and uses are different, and each one has excellent features.
Beautiful painting decoration
Kutani ware represents Japanese color-decorated pottery as it is said “No uwaetsuke (painting decoration), no Kutani.”
Uwaetsuke is a technique to paint with pigments after baking then rebake at about 800 ℃ to finish. The painting decoration becomes the one-and-only by rebaking.
Also, five color pigments are used for the technique, which are red, yellow, purple, green and navy. That’s why uwaetsuke is also called “gosaide (five colors method)”.
The decoration technique makes Kutani ware look luxurious and gorgeous enough to be chosen as a gift for someone special and celebrations.
History of Kutani ware
Kutani ware has different names and characteristics according to the eras, and it is said that it originated about 360 years ago in the Edo period.
Sudden disappearance in the early Edo period
Kutani ware had been recognized in 1665 as it is said that Goto Saijiro who had trained pottery in Arita first built his kiln in Kutani village.
Later, he had produced many Kutani ware masterpieces with brilliant decorations, and became famous in no time, but he suddenly “disappeared” at his very young age. The cause is unknown still now.
Comeback in the late Edo period.
100 years after the shutdown of the Kutani kiln, Yoshida-ya Denemon, a great merchant of Daishoji that was the birthplace of Kutani ware, took leadership to restore Kutani ware.
The Kutani ware products made during this period are called “Saiko (restored) Kutani”
Recognized worldwide in the Meiji era
In 1873, the Kutani ware was exhibited at the Vienna Expo and became famous worldwide as “Japan Kutani”
Later, the famous Kutani painting decorator Kutani Shoza took leadership to make Kutani ware products with brilliant red painting decoration, and the massive amount of the products were exported.
Living national treasure in the Showa era and present
In the late Showa era, the beauty of Kutani ware led to the times of producing Kutani ware as an art work. The tradition is valued in Kutani ware, but a variety of new designs were made as they were flexibly adapted to the times.
As a result, two living national treasures were designated:One is the 3rd Tokuda Yasokichi, who had developed the gradation painting method, in 1997. The other is Yoshida Minori, who has mastered the technique of gold leaf decoration, in 2001.
And now, Kutani ware continues to improve as they respect the tradition and integrate new designs and techniques.
Some people may think that pottery is formal and to decorate with or appreciate.
This time, we are going to introduce Mashiko ware that will change the universal impression of pottery.
What is Mashiko ware?
Mashiko ware is the pottery produced in the town of Mashiko, Tochigi, and designated as a traditional craft of Japan.
The Mashiko pottery market that has been held since 1966 is very popular as it attracts about 600 thousand people every year.
The reason for this popularity is coming from the characteristics of Mashiko ware.
Features of Mashiko ware
Mashiko ware has a different style from other pottery brands.
Mashiko ware tends to accept whoever wants to inherit the tradition.
Therefore, many potters come to Mashiko from many places in and out of Japan and integrate their designs into its tradition. This broadens ideas of designs, and as a result, “trendy” tableware to make the table look fancy has been produced lately.
There is of course Japanese teaware available, but English teaware is also produced as well as kyusu teapots and yunomi teacups..
Mashiko ware looks cute and chubby as it is made thick because the clay to make Mahisko porcelain contains a plenty of bubbles and that’s not suitable for delicate work.
Also, since it is sandy, it feels and looks no-frills.
Fit in any scenes
Mashiko ware tableware is made for daily use, that is why, it goes with any types of table and cuisine.
Although Mashiko ware is authentic Japanese tableware, its simple and trendy design attracts the young generation and the products are used at many places like cafes.
History of Mashiko ware
The history of Mashiko ware is not as long as the others’: It originated in the Edo period.
Mashiko ware had been affected by the eras till present, but it overcame those difficult times while production got to discontinue for periods.
Flourish thanks to the Han domain’s support in the Edo period
It is said that Mashiko ware originated when the potter Otsuka Keisaburo built his pottery in 1853. The Kurohane-Han domain that governed Mashiko supported Mashiko ware, which spreaded out Mashiko ware to Edo.
Facing many crises in the Meiji era
Although the support from the Han domain had ended, Mashiko ware continued to spread out nationwide later. However, when the export of Mashiko ware launched, the pace of production was unable to be kept up, and that caused the degradation of the quality. As a result, those poor quality products took away the trust of Mashiko ware.
Later, the situation improved with the potters’ hard work, the production of Mashiko ware ended up discontinuing temporarily while aluminum and metal tableware and kitchen tools became the mainstream.
Falkcraft movement: from the Taisho era to present
The falkcraft movement occurred to spread the new value and beauty of falkcraft as the new concept that had not been thought before came up: “The beauty of falkcraft is made through human communication in daily life, not designed but naturally made.”
Since one of the bases of the movement was Mashiko, many potters visited Mashiko and ended up working to make Mashiko ware.
And now, there are about 250 potteries and many potters have been producing a variety of works.
There have been a variety of pottery from ancient times in Japan: Do you know Tokoname ware?
You may not have heard of it, but might have already had its products. This is how ubiquitous it is across the country.
In this article, we are going to introduce Tokoname ware as we strongly recommend those tea lovers know it.
What is Tokoname ware?
Tokoname ware is the pottery that has been produced from old times in and around the town of Tokoname facing Ise Bay in the west coast of Chita Peninsula in Aichi. It is one of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan.
The population of Tokoname during the heyday was about 55,000, 1 in 6 citizens was involved in the pottery industry, and there were more than 400 offices there.
Tokoname ware is famous for its kyusu teapot. The Tokoname teapot is designated as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, which resulted in designating the late 3rd Yamada Jozan, who was a holder of the Tokoname teapot method, as a living national treasure.
Now when you google “Tokoname ware” , the result would come up with Tokoname teapots. Teapot is synonymous with Tokoname ware.
Features of Tokoname ware
The feature of Tokoname ware is its vermilion color. The vermilion color is made with clay called “shudei” that contains rich iron oxide, which brought the time when Tokoname ware was called “akamono (= red products)” and distributed.
Another characteristic is that Tokoname ware is made without glazing called “Yuyaku” on the surface. But lately, some products are purposely glazed to make different colors other than vermilion.
Tokoname kyusu teapot
The Tokoname teapot is quite famous and the top teapot market share of Japan. The reason why the Tokoname teapot is so popular is because “it makes tea taste better”.
“Shudei”, the clay
As mentioned before, the clay called “shudei” to make Tokoname ware contains rich iron oxide. The iron oxide reacts to tannin, the compound of bitterness, and reduces the bitterness, which makes tea taste smooth and less bitter.
No use of glaze
Tokoname ware is porous, which causes tons of small holes on the surface. Those small holes absorb extra impurities of tea, which makes tea taste better and clear.
Serameshu (Ceramic mesh) infuser
Tokoname teapots have a built-in infuser.
Unlike the metal infuser, the built-in infuser is made out of delicate ceramic. The ceramic infuser enables the tea to be poured out till the last drop as it prevents clogging. Also, it doesn’t affect the taste of tea itself because the unpleasant metal taste won’t be mixed in tea.
History of Tokoname ware
Tokoname ware is one of the oldest of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan, which originated back in the Heian period.
Pottery like teacups began to be made out of good quality clay from the Chita Peninsula by baking them, which resulted in building many kilns in the late Heian period. It is said that there were 300 kilns at the most.
In the Kamakura period, Tokoname ware was shipped out nationwide.
Later, from the late Edo period to the Meiji era, techniques from other countries like Europe and China were actively integrated and that accelerated the volume of production dramatically.
At the same time, red bricks began to be produced as well as tableware like teacups.
Since then, the techniques have continued to improve day by day, the productions have been more varied, and the quality has been improving.