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Koishiwara Ware (小石原焼, Koishiwara Yaki)

Boasting a 350-year history, Koishiwara ware can be described as one of Japan's leading crafts.

Since its creation, Koishiwara ware has evolved to become a practical, beautiful pottery, whose unique points are the geometric patterns and the elegant texture and charming color expression.


History

The origin of Koishiwara ware dates all the way back to the Edo Period (1603-1868): in 1669, Hachinojo, grandson of famous pottery master Hachizo Takatori, discovered a new type of clay in the Sarayama area in Koishiwara, with which he started producing wares. In 1682, the third-generation lord of the Fukuoka Domain, Mitsuyuki Kuroda, invited craftsmen from Imari who started working together with Hachinojo, eventually creating Koishiwara ware through Chinese techniques, although at the time it was called “Nakano ware”, as the production area used to be called Nakano. Koishiwara wares were heavily used by the common people at the time, especially as Japanese sake cups, flower vases, and teapots. However, Koishiwara ware production started declining until it was brought back around the year 1927, during the Showa period (1926-1988). Demand particularly increased due to the shortage of supplies after the Second World War and since then, the market has expanded nationwide. At the international exposition held in Brussels in 1958, Koishiwara ware won the Grand Prize, and gained attention with its catchphrase “Yonobi”, “The Beauty of Functionality”. In 1975, Koishiwara ware was the first porcelain to be designated as a traditional craft by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Today, Koishiwara ware is primarily made in Toho, a village located in the Asakura district of Fukuoka, continuing to attract enthusiasts with its rustic charm.


Characteristics

The rustic texture brings out the full potential of the clay, and the geometric patterns showcase the traditional techniques used to make it. The concept of "the beauty of functionality" continues to form a key aspect of the potter's craft, underlying people's mindset to cherish handmade creations and use them in daily life.


Techniques

  • TOBIKANNA (飛び鉋) It involves creating an even pattern by shaving away bits of clay using the sharp end of a plane (a blade pulled toward the user) while rotating the piece on a potter’s wheel.

  • HAKEME KUSHIME (刷毛目・櫛目) It is when white engobe (a liquid solution used for final decoration) is applied on the work and brushed in as it is being spun on a potter’s wheel.

  • YUBIKAKI (指描き) As soon as the engobbe is poured, the potter's wheel is spun and painting is applied by fingers.

  • NAGASHIKAKE (流し掛け) It is when glaze is evenly applied while the work is rotated on a potter’s wheel.

  • UCHIKAKE (打ち掛け) It is similar to “nagashi-kake,” but the glaze is only applied to specific, small areas using a ladle or small cup.

  • PONGAKI (ぽん描き) Coordinating the glaze which is pouring from the mouth of the bamboo's container, and immediately painting.


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