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.

January 08, 2023