Japanese Ceramics

Japanese Porcelain and Stoneware

Having many areas famous for various kinds of ceramics Japan is a mecca for ceramic enthusiasts. Japanese ceramics can be divided into three categories: porcelains , glazed stonewares and unglazed stonewares. This is a selection of the most famous types of Japanese ceramics.

Tokoname Ware / Tokoname Yaki / 常滑焼

Tokoname Ware is glazed and unglazed stoneware known for its reddish appearance, which comes from the fine-grained clay containing a high percentage of iron typical for the area. Ashes of different kind of woods are used to create variations in color. The city of Tokoname in the Aichi prefecture is a very ancient center of pottery since thousands of years.

Kutani Ware / Kutaniyaki / 九谷焼

Kutani Ware is a porcelain with a five-color palette consisting of red, green, yellow, purple and prussian blue. The colors exhibit a glasslike transparency and often the colors yellow and green are emphasized. The center for Kutani Ware is Terai City in the Ishikawa prefecture.

Mashiko Ware / Mashikoyaki / 益子焼

Mashiko Ware is glazed stoneware from Machiko city in the Tochigi prefecture. It is of modest simplicity which makes is poplar as tableware. The typical linear glaze designs became a trademark of Mashiko pottery. Mashiko Ware was officially designated as a Traditional Craft Industry in 1979.

Mino Ware / Minoyaki / 美濃焼

The history of Mino Ware dates back to the year 905, when it gained mention as one of the places that produced fine ceramics. It is glazed stoneware which can vary from red to grey. There are many varieties of Mino Ware and they can be left plain or decorated with simple motifs. The centers for Mino Ware are Tajimi city and Toki city in the Gifu prefecture.

Hagi Ware / Hagiyaki / 萩焼

Hagi Ware is an ash glazed stoneware  from Hagi city in Yamaguchi prefecture. It is made of a special clay which gives it features such as keeping tea hot for longer and change color over time. Hagi pots are almost never decorated with painted motifs, but rely on wood-ash glazes made from the wood of the iso tree or a straw-ash glaze.

Kiyomizu Ware / Kiyomizuyaki / 清水焼

Kiyomizu Ware is one of the famous ceramics from Kyoto. It got influenced from porcelain from China, Korea and Holland. This foreign influence is one of the special features of this ware. Kiyomizu Ware includes traditional utensils for the tea ceremony, ikebana, or incense stands as well as usual tableware found in homes, hotels and restaurants.

Shigaraki Ware / Shigarakiyaki / 信楽焼

Shigaraki Ware is a rustic, rough-textured stoneware dating back to very ancient times. Chunks of feldspar, random ash-glaze effects, the warm reddish coloring and the rough texture give the Shigaraki stoneware a natural quality which appealed to many famous tea masters such as Sen no Rikyu or Kobori Enshu.

Bizen Ware / Bizenyaki / 備前焼

Bizen Ware is an unglazed stoneware typical for the city of Inbe in Okayama prefecture. The natural beauty of Bizen Ware stems largely from the unforeseen changes that occur during the firing, affecting the shape, color, and texture. Moreover, because glazes are not applied, the elemental feeling of the iron-rich clay is retained.

Arita Ware / Aritayaki / 有田焼

Arita Ware is the oldest Japanese porcelain and originates from Imari city and Arita city in Saga prefecture. The original colors are blue o white but over time new techniques were developed that added more colors such as red, yellow, green and even gold and silver. While mass products from molds are widely available there are still many artisans who create exclusive pieces of craft.

Tobe Ware / Tobeyaki / 砥部焼

Tobe Ware is a thick porcelain with a cloudy surface originating from Tobe city in Ehime prefecture. While often decorated with simple designs painted in charcoal-black glaze, it can also be very colorful. Both the underglazes and the upper glazes are applied by hand and help to  give Tobe Ware its distinctive, slightly rustic flavor.

Tsuboya Ware / Tsuboyayaki / 壺屋焼

Tsuboya Ware is a typical stoneware from Naha city on Okinawa island. Its designs are simple but powerful and are derived from the life and customs of Okinawan people. Apart from conventional bowls, plates, and tea ware, some of the Tsuboya Ware products are typical  for Okinawa customs such as the mythical lion dog or a highly decorated casket for the bones of the deceased.

One thought on “Japanese Ceramics”

  1. Tobe Ware potters helped our family’s kiln in the 1870’s – Kodani-yaki of Kodani in Hiroshima.

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