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The most popular Japanese ceramic styles Part 2

As promised, here is the second part of our summary article on Japanese ceramic styles. In this article we will discuss 16 more styles. In the continuation of our series of articles, we will try to write more about each style.

17. Kyoto-Kiyomizu-yaki

These ceramics are made around Kyoto. The history of the style dates back to the Nara period (710-794). As with so many other styles, as tea ceremonies became popular, the demand for ceramics increased in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573-1600). In the 18th century, ko-Kiyomizu (old Kiyomizu) ceramics, decorated with blue gold and green, were particularly popular in the imperial and noble courts. During the Meiji period (1868-1912), these ceramics were also widely sold in foreign markets.

Local ceramic paints contain large amounts of glass and are therefore almost transparent.

Kyoto-Kiyomizu-yaki kerámia

18. Mashiko-yaki

These ceramics have been produced in the Mashiko area of Tochigi Prefecture since 1853, when Otsuka Keizaburo started making water jugs and pots. In the Showa period (1912-1988), ceramic artist Hamada Shoji began making vases and tableware here. The style was recognised as a national traditional craft in 1979.

A special feature of the local clay is its high iron and silica content. This makes objects made from it easy to mould and highly fire-resistant, but also slightly heavier than the average. Not only is this clay easy to mould, it is also very good for glazing, which allows a wide range of decorative techniques, such as the use of white engobes. Landscape pattern teapots made here are famous.

Mashiko-yaki teáskanna

19. Mikawachi-yaki

Mikawachi ceramics have been made in the Sasebo area of Nagasaki Prefecture since the late 16th century. At that time, the lord of Hirado province brought nearly 100 Korean potters to Japan. One of these potters, Koseki, was particularly important because it was his son who discovered the white porcelain mineral in 1640. Around 1650, a significant business was built on local porcelain production and Mikawachi pottery was produced throughout Hirado province. It is for this reason that ceramics made here are often called Hirado-yaki after the name of the province. Ceramics made here were exported to China and Europe.

These porcelains are decorated with blue paint and often depict Chinese children playing.

Mikawachi-yaki kerámiák

20. Mino-yaki

Mino ceramics are made in the Tono area of Gifu Prefecture and have one of the oldest histories, dating back to the 5th century. At that time, the technology of pottery wheels and kilns carved into the hillside was imported from Korea. In the Heian period, local pottery was decorated with ash glazes. As in many other areas of Japan, the spread of tea ceremonies led to a boom in pottery making. By the end of the 17th century, white glazed ceramics with a porcelain-like appearance were highly prized. The production of porcelain began at the end of the Edo period. Then, in the Showa period (1926-1988), the production of fine objects and tiles became the focus.

Mino-yaki contains more than 15 types of traditional ceramics. The 3 most important of these are:

The style named after the Furuta Oribe teamaster, in which the ceramics are decorated with deep green glazes and geometric patterns.

The all-black glazed ceramics, mainly made in the Tensho period (1573-1593), are special because they were taken out of the kiln while still red-hot.

The Shino style, which had its golden age during the spread of tea ceremonies, is characterised by ceramics with patterns under the glaze, mostly of a soft red colour and bubbly texture.


21. Obori-Soma-yaki

These ceramics have been made in the Namie area of Fukushima Prefecture since the late 17th century. Thanks to the support of the local Soma clan, the local ceramics industry boomed and by the mid-19th century it had become the largest ceramics centre in the Tohoku region. Although production declined during the Meiji period, it is still a living art form in the region.

One of the hallmarks of the style is that the different reduction rates of the clay and enamel used here produce cracks with a particular pattern, made spectacular by the use of blue enamel.

Another feature, unique throughout Japan, is that these ceramic objects are double-walled to insulate hot liquids.

Obori-Soma-yaki dupla falú teásbögre

22. Otani-yaki

The city of Naruto, in Tokushima Prefecture, is famous for its ceramics, among other things. Ceramics production began in 1780 when a potter who came to the town made ceramics from local red clay. In 1781, the lord of the manor had a kiln built in the town, but it was not economical to run and was closed down 3 years later. Later, a so-called climbing kiln was built here (a type of kiln capable of firing large quantities of glazed ceramics) to produce the ceramics used in everyday life.

Perhaps the most unusual of the local ceramics are the taller-than-human pots. They traditionally require two people to make. One person lies down to turn the potter's wheel while the other stands on a stand to mould the clay. Of course, in addition to these huge pots, everyday utensils such as rice bowls, teacups and decorative objects are also made here.

Otani-yaki vizeskorsók.

23. Sanshu Onigawara-yaki

In Aichi Prefecture, Sanshu is one of the three places where clay roof tiles have been made since the 6th century. Roof tiles are associated with onigawara, a roof decoration in Japanese architecture. The essence of this decoration is the oni (Japanese ogre), whose function is to ward off evil spirits. They serve a similar function to the gargoyles of the West. Their first appearance dates back to 1363 and is found in the Chokyu-ji temple in Nara.

This art form flourished in the 18th century. These works are not glazed, which gives them a rough surface.

Sanshu Onigawara-yaki oni (japán ogre) tetődíszítés

24. Satsuma-yaki

Three cities in Kagoshima Prefecture, Ibusuki, Hioki and Kagoshima, have been making these ceramics since the 16th century. During the Imjin War (porcelain war), the ruler of the Satsuma Empire brought 80 Korean pottery masters to the region and built various workshops. As a result, several styles and schools flourished here. The most famous of these are the over-glazed Satsuma porcelain developed by Chin Jukan and the unique natural glazed ceramics developed by Boku Heii. Until the beginning of World War I, Satsuma ceramics were one of the best known and most sought-after Japanese ceramics in Europe.

There are three types of Satsuma ceramics - white ceramics, black ceramics and porcelain.

Shiromon, which is a off-white porcelain coated with a transparent glaze. The surface is cracked and decorated. The porcelain stones originally used are no longer produced.

Kuromon is made of high iron clay and fired black, decorated with coloured glazes, originally intended for everyday use and tea ceremonies.

25. Seto-yaki

These ceramics are made around the towns of Seto and Owariasahi in Aichi Prefecture. Seto is one of Japan's 6 ancient kilns. The history of pottery in this area dates back to the 13th century. Kato Shirozaemon studied in China and after several unsuccessful attempts, built a successful kiln in Seto. The style, with Chinese roots, combines Chinese ceramic painting with depictions of the landscape and nature around Seto. By the end of the 19th century, the style was well known in Europe and so well respected that it influenced the European Art Nouveau movement.

Seto ceramics are not glazed. Asbolite paint, an indigo blue colour, is applied directly to the raw ceramic.

26. Shigaraki-yaki.

Ceramics have been made in the Shigaraki area of Shiga Prefecture since the 8th century. The kiln here is one of six ancient Japanese kilns. Originally, the kiln was built for the production of roof tiles during the construction of Shigaraki Palace. After that, it was used to make water jugs until the tea ceremony became popular. Then, as everywhere else in Japan, the demand for the ceramics needed for the tea ceremony grew. In the Edo period, the focus was on the production of sake bottles and clay pots. Between the two world wars, hibachi pots were very popular. A hibachi pot is an indoor charcoal-fired stove, used mainly for heating and not cooking.

Pots made of local clay typically have thick walls and can withstand heat very well. Pottery made here takes on all shades of red, from pink to reddish brown.

27. Shodai-yaki

In 1632, the head of the Hosokawa clan opened a kiln at the foot of Mount Shotai, where they made hibachi and vessels for everyday use and tea ceremony. In 1836, the Senoue Kemece was founded and the shodai technique was developed. In the Meiji period (1868-1912), with the rise of Arita and Seto ceramics, Shoda ceramics took a backseat. Since the Showa period, this style has gained new strength.

The special feature of these ceramics is that the enamel is poured onto the ceramic and this gives the ceramics their special pattern. In terms of colours, reddish brown, blue, yellow and white predominate.

28. Tamba-Tachikui-yaki

Tamba-Tachikui-yaki is made in Sasayama, Hyogo Prefecture. The one here is one of the six ancient kilns. The kiln here is believed to have been built at the end of the Heian period (794-1185). These ceramics were long called Onohara-yaki. Unglazed ceramics were made here until the Edo period. The centre of the local ceramics industry moved to Tachikui in the Meiji period. An interesting fact about the production of pottery here is, that the local pottery wheels rotate counterclockwise, a rarity in Japan.

As in Naruto, a climbing kiln is used here, in which the ceramics are fired at around 1300 degrees Celsius for 60 hours. The ashes of the pine wood used to heat the kiln are sprinkled on the ceramics, which fuse with the enamel and the iron content of the clay. The way the ash is used and the way the flames reach the ceramics will give the ceramics their distinctive patterns and shades.

29. Tobe-yaki

The city of Tobe on the island of Shikoku is where the ceramics made there are named after the city itself. The local workshops were found in 1777 by the Ozu estate. During the Meiji period (1868-1912), the local ceramics industry developed rapidly under the influence of technology from famous manufacturing areas. However, while the major ceramic centres continued to modernise their operations, clay continued to be worked by hand in Tobe.

The local ceramic materials can produce beautiful white and translucent ceramics with a slight light grey tinge compared to Arita ceramics.

30. Tokoname-yaki

These ceramics are made around the eponymous city of Tokoname in Aichi Prefecture. The kiln here is one of six ancient kilns. At the end of the Heian period (794-1185), it was the largest pottery production area with about 3,000 kilns. In the Edo period (1603-1868), a wide variety of ceramics were produced here, including the popular kyusu (teapot), which was first made here. The construction of the railways in the Meiji period created a huge demand for the clay water pipes made here to transport water between the railways.

The clay mined in the area has a high iron content, which turns red when fired. The teapots made here are said to have an iron content that softens the astringency of green tea.

31. Tsuboya-yaki

In Okinava Prefecture, these ceramics are made in the Naha Tsuboya district. The history of local pottery production dates back to the 17th century. During the reign of the Tokugawa shogunate, potters were invited from Korea to set up workshops here. Although production declined in the Meiji period, the Ming (folk art) movement brought a renewed appreciation for local pottery production. So much so that in 1985 Kinjo Jiro pottery was declared the first living national treasure of Okinava Prefecture.

The ceramics made here can be further divided into two styles. The Arayachi pottery is simple and is mainly used to make sake or water bottles. The Jouyach style is more ornate. The latter ceramics are burnt at 1200 degrees Celsius, glazed white and decorated as such.

32. Yokkaichi Banko-yaki

These ceramics are made in the city of Yokkaichi in Mie Prefecture. The history of local pottery began between 1736 and 1740, when tea merchant Nunami Rozan opened his own kiln and started making pottery there. He stamped his work with the inscription Banko fueki (life everlasting), hence the Banko part of the name. After his death, local pottery production ceased and was only revived 30 years later by the Mori brothers.

Today, shidei kyusu (purple clay teapots) and clay cooking pots are the most common products. The local clay contains a special lithium mineral petalite combined with a high iron content clay, which gives the pottery a special purple-brown colour that becomes more intense with use and time.

Now these would be the most popular Japanese ceramic styles or rather ceramic manufacturing areas. As you can see from this brief summary local conditions and history have greatly influenced the development of pottery in a particular area. I can see this in my personal example, how many small things can influence the creative process. It is thanks to my friends that I found and fell in love with ink painting patterns, and it is also thanks to other friends that I have learned to use the paint that allows me to paint dozens of layers of pottery and combine colours and shades. You can see the result in our webshop. If you haven’t read it yet you can find the first part of this series here.


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