Many tea wares have been made in Japan since old days, and their materials are various.
In this article, I’m going to introduce “pottery” which is one of the most popular materials.
What is pottery?
Pottery has left many masterpieces in the long history of tea wares.
It is a “earthenware” made of clay, it is a simple and dignified looking ceramic.
Pottery is fired at a lower temperature of 900 to 1200℃ compared to porcelain, it is made thicker so that it is more brittle and less likely to break than porcelain baked at a high temperature.
The thicker container prevents heat conduction, so that the brewed tea does not get cold easily. It is suitable for tea bowls because the heat of bowl is not easily felt by the person holding it.
In addition, it is easy to get color and dirt because of its water absorbency, and it takes more time to maintain compared to other tea wares.
However, many tea masters love to use it because of the way its color and other characteristics change every time they use it.
Let me introduce you to famous Japanese pottery.
Mashiko ware is a pottery made in Mashiko Town, Tochigi Prefecture and is designated as a Traditional Craft of Japan.
The Mashiko Pottery Fair has been held since 1966 and about 600,000 people come to the fair every year.
The porcelain clay used for Mashiko ware is not suitable for fine works and requires a thicker texture, so it is characterized by its plump and cute appearance.
In addition, it has a rustic look and feel due to its high sandiness.
Mashiko ware had faced many crises in its existence since its birth in the Edo period, but in the Taisho period (1912-1926) with the Folk Art Movement, it became Japan’s representative pottery.
Nowadays, there are as many as 250 pottery producers in Japan, and many of them are creating pottery of their own design.
Hagi ware is mainly produced in Hagi City, Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Hagi ware, which has developed as tea pottery, has long been praised a “No.1 is Raku ware, No.2 is Hagi ware and No.3 is Karatsu ware”.
This is a term expressing the taste of the tea master or rating of tea bowls, and it shows that Hagi ware has been highly valued since old days.
Most of them are simple and make use of the material itself, with little or no coloring or decoration.
Due to the influence of the porcelain clay used in the pottery and the production process, Hagi ware is characterized by numerous fine cracks called “Kannyu”.
Over the years, ingredients such as tea gradually permeate into the tea bowl, changing the color of the tea bowl, and this phenomenon is called “Cha-nare (harmonizing with tea)” or “Hagi-no-Nanabake (Hagi’s changing)” among tea masters, and it is valued as a tea bowl whose expression changes depending on who uses it.
In addition, there are more than 100 pottery producers of Hagi ware, but most of them are small and active as artists, so there are many one-of-a-kind works, which is a feature of Hagi ware.
Seto ware is a pottery made in Seto City, Aichi Prefecture, and not only pottery but also porcelain is made.
In Japan, the word “setomono” is used to describe all ceramics, and it comes from Seto ware.
This is the pottery that had such a big impact on the Japanese ceramic art world.
Seto ware is one of the “Three Major Japanese Pottery” and the “Six Ancient Kilns in Japan”, and has produced many masterpieces of ceramic ware, especially in the area of tea ceremony utensils.
In addition, Seto has produced a wide variety of pottery using its abundant raw materials such as high-quality clay and pottery stone.