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Explore the History and Aesthetics

of Japanese Pottery


Japanese pottery and ceramics, known as Yakimono(焼き物、literally “burned thing” or “fired thing”)is one of Japan’s oldest art forms. Traditional ceramics can be found everywhere in Japanese culture: tea ceremony enthusiasts and flower arranging masters, among others, often skillfully choose pieces that demonstrate not only basic utility, but also profound beauty. Exploring the history and aesthetics of pottery is a great way to develop a deeper understanding of Japanese culture.
Here You Can Learn about 3 Points of Yakimono
The Six Old Kilns Yakimono Categories

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The Six Old Kilns


The term in Japan, 日本六古窯/Nihon Rokkoyo refer to the “six old kilns in Japan”. Nihon Rokkoyo is a pottery technology which rooted from China and Korea. The six old kilns are Shigaraki, Echizen, Bizen, Tokoname, Tamba, and Seto. In addition to the six old kilns, many kiln marks of the Kamakura period have been found all over the country, but many have gone without a trace.


Among the six, only the Seto kiln adopted glazing techniques learned from Chinese potters, developing ash, iron black, feldspar white, and copper green glazes and the pottery they produced, imitating the Chinese style that became very popular.Since pottery from the Seto kiln was widely used throughout the country and “Seto-mono”(product of Seto) became the generic term used for pottery in Japan.

  Yakimono Categories

In general, Yakimono can be largely divided into four categories.

Earthenware (土器/Doki)


Usually fired at 700 to 800°C (1292-1472°F). No glaze. Not waterproof; porous; opaque.




Made from clay with alkali or iron, fired at 1200 to 1300°C (2192-2372°F) over a long period; waterproof; opaque.



White surface, low permeability; known for translucence, thin, but also known for strength and hardness compared to tōki.




Glazed clay surface fired around 1200°C. The clay surface (when not glazed) is not waterproof and is opaque.

  Representative of Yakimono



Arita-ware from Saga prefecture is one of the most well-known porcelain in the world for its history that started in the early Edo period (17th century) which has become the oldest porcelain in Japan. Arita-ware usually have a white surface with bright colors of indigo, red, yellow or golden. It has thin and light features with glass-like smooth



Kyoto which is known for its Kiyomizu temple, has a famous pottery called Kiyomizu-ware which was historically made at the foot of the temple. Kiyomizu-ware is a traditional craftwork with a history of 400 years. Painted after once fired in Kiln, with elegant pattern like Kyoto. 




From Ishikawa prefecture, the history of Kutani has started from early Edo period. The ceramic painting method or known as Kutanigosai which means “five colors of Kutani” green, yellow, purple, red, navy blue. Usually has traditional motive like landscapes, flowers, animals etc. Known as Japan Kutani in overseas and has since gained its fame.



Shigaraki from Shiga prefecture is one of the six old kilns. The most famous Shigaraki is the Racoon figurine. A rough base material containing a lot of fine stone grains becomes reddish brown when baked. Features such as fire color, burnt, ash covering, etc. that can be made when baking.




One of the six old kilns, Bizen from Okayama prefecture characterized by significant hardness due to high temperature firing, its earthen-like, reddish-brown color, absence of glaze, although it may contain traces of molten ash resembling glaze, and markings resulting from wood-burning kiln firing.



From Gifu prefecture, Mino-ware has more than 50 percent of domestic production share in japan. Because of its large scale of production, many studio exists which allows Mino to have various kinds of product to be made.