Mikawachi Yaki | Beautiful pure white Traditional Japanese Crafts


Mikawachi Yaki has Unique History and Features different from other crafts

Mikawachi ware began in Sasebo, Nagasaki in the 1600s. It was originally intended as a dedication to the Edo shogunate, and in the 17th century, it became an export item to foreign countries particularly Europe as Japan had commercial trading with the Netherlands and Britain by which Mikawachi-Yaki brought into Western countries and and its popularity began in many countries in Europe.

The craft was for relatively high-class people those days. However, it gradually came to be used in the private sector and became established as a daily necessity. In the Meiji era (19th century onward), it was completely popular among the general public, and with the help of high quality of the ware which was originally created as a luxury item, Mikawachi-Yaki has become popular and loved by the general public.

There are a number of classifications within Mikawachi Pottery, and the most popular method of classification is by the kiln used in the manufacturing process. Currently, there are 14 kilns.

My recommendations – Mikawachi Yaki small plates are good for decoration!

The most distinctive feature of Mikawachi ware is the decoration of the plates in blue. The deep blue color that blends in with the pure white of the pottery is painted with a single brush stroke. The decorations, drawn only in shades of blue, have a three-dimensional effect and depict a variety of scenes from traditional Japanese landscapes to everyday scenes. I love this simple combination of pure white and blue, and I like that it is a classy piece that never interferes with the colors of the meal.

Mikawachi-yaki small plates

One of my favorite plates is 6 Pieces set Yokarakusa! when hosting my friends to meal, I often use them to small bowl with decorate vegetable. Vegetable green perfectly matches with pure white and blue!!

6 piece set Yokarakusa

How they manufacture Mikawachi Yaki

There are a number of classifications within Mikawachi Pottery, and the most popular method of classification is by the kiln used in the manufacturing process. Currently, there are 14 kilns, but these process is almost common among all 14 kilns.

1. Stone crushing

Mikawachi ware uses Amakusa potter’s stone, which is collected in the city of Amakusa, Kumamoto prefecture. This material is the source of the porcelain’s whiteness. One day is spent finely grinding the potter’s stone with a special machine until it becomes a powder.


2. Sedimentation tank


Since the crushed rock has different sizes and contains grains that are too large to use for porcelain, the grains must be separated by size. When placed into water, grains of a larger size sink more quickly than smaller grains. Using this property, the crushed rock is dropped into a sedimentation tank and a filter tank is used to collect only fine-grain particles. Then the collected fine grains are placed in a machine called a vacuum drain, which thoroughly removes the air and produces clay.


3. Casting


The clay formed by the sedimentation tank is cast on a potter’s wheel or by hand. Casting is an important factor in determining the shape of the porcelain. Furthermore, there are various techniques applied during the casting stage when the pieces being made are ornaments. Techniques often used in Mikawachi ware are sukashi bori to curve and boreholes, tebineri to express lively animals and vegetation, and pasting to attach the items to other pieces of unglazed pottery.


4. Drying


The potter’s clay is then thoroughly dried in the sunlight and the rough parts of the surface are shaved to produce a smooth surface


5. Bisque


The bisque firing, the first firing before any glaze is applied, is done for around seven hours at a high temperature of 900℃ (about 1292℉). Bisque firing is carried out in order to make it easier to perform the next process, which is decorative coating.


6. Undercoating


After the bisque firing, the ceramics are not necessarily pure. If dust is attached to the surface, it will be mixed up with the paint and there is a risk that the item will be ruined. Therefore, before undercoating is applied, dust is removed by thoroughly polishing with a dry cloth. For this process, an asbolite pigment is used. Painting is performed with care using a writing brush. Asbolite is a grayish color at the undercoating stage, but when fired it becomes a marvelous vivid blue dye. After the undercoating, a thick brush is used to apply a dark asbolite called dami to express shading.


7. Glazing


After applying an undercoat, the enamel is applied all over. By applying the enamel, glass-like transparency is produced and strength is reinforced.


8. Glaze firing


Then, once the enamel has been thoroughly applied all over, pieces are fired for fifteen to twenty hours at around 1300℃ (around 2372℉), which is even higher than the temperature used in the bisque firing. A particularly important part is after the glaze firing process. Cracks will be found if the pieces are suddenly taken away from a high-temperature place to a room-temperature place. To avoid that, the pieces are cooled over time before being removed from the kiln.


9. Overcoating


Mikawachi ware with its characteristic vivid blue, is often inspected after glaze firing and sent out. However, there can be an overcoat when further coloring like red or another color is applied. After the overcoating, the pieces are thoroughly baked by glaze firing, which involves firing at around 750℃ (1382℉) for approximately seven hours to settle the coloring.


Japan’s traditional crafts still have many charms that have yet to be shared with the rest of the world. In addition to Mikawachi-yaki, there are many other traditional crafts ranging from art to pottery, and there is sure to be something that grabs your attention. This website will introduce you to other crafts and cultures as well, so be sure to visit!

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