Essays and Articles

Japanese Pottery - Shigaraki

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Possibly the best known of Japan’s six old kilns, Shigaraki stoneware pottery originated in the middle of the Kamakura period (early thirteenth century) with purely practical items produced to meet the demands of farmers and merchants including jars for tea storage known as ‘tsubo’, large plates, bowls and bottles as well as vessels used in indigo production

During the 15th and 16th centuries Shigaraki tea wares began to boom in popularity among the aristocratic classes thanks to the influence of tea masters such as Murata Juko, who hailed such ceramics as being in the spirit of ‘Wabi – Sabi’. The appreciation of rustic simplicity was more in line with the new form of ritual tea drinking which emphasized humility and intense awareness of ones surroundings.

The clay body of Shigaraki ceramics is distinguishable by its warm orange tone and lighter coloured grains of feldspar and quartz responsible for the distinctive rough texture of finished pieces

Glazes tend to be minimal and in earthy colours with classical pieces generally displaying natural ash glazes in tones of greenish yellow, gray and black or brown iron rich slip to create a uniform reddish brown.

In the modern day Shigaraki pottery continues to be produced both in the form of utilitarian items for everyday use as well as in one of a kind art pieces that bring a contemporary aesthetic to this ancient medium. Below are just a few examples of Japanese Shigaraki Pottery.







Japanese pottery - Bizen

Saturday, May 14, 2016

One of the oldest of Japan’s ‘six ancient kilns’, the distinctive stoneware native to the Bizen area of Japan has been made since the Heian period (12th century).

Easily recognizable by its characteristic reddish brown colour, hardness and usual lack of glazing, the appearance of Bizen pottery is entirely dependent on the conditions in which it is fired, with varying placements of the pottery pieces within the kiln creating a rich array of reddish tones and additional introduced materials such as rice straw and resinous woods producing red and purplish brown scorch marks.

Many of the forms seen in contemporary Bizen ceramics are virtually unchanged since its heyday during the Muromachi, Momoyama and Edo periods.

                                                                      Signed Bizen Pottery Mizusashi




Japanese Ceramics

Monday, May 02, 2016

Japan has a long history and relationship with the creation of ceramics which are mainly used in traditional Japanese cultural practices such as tea ceremony, ikebana flower arranging and food service.

Japan has more than 50 pottery towns nationwide and each town has its own cultural background and history which has meant each town has cultivated a unique style of ceramic production.  Japanese potters use a variety of glazes with highly honed techniques which result in a plethora of stunning outcomes including glossy finished through to rough surfaces, bright colours to monochrome finishes.

There is truly something for everyone in the world of Japanese pottery.  For more examples of the diverse nature of Japanese ceramics, please visit tableware, vases + vessels, bowls + plates and pottery sections of the website.

SHINO pottery vase    ORIBE pottery dishes
 KUTANI pottery plate
 BIZEN pottery vase