Otani ware | Over 240 years of history in traditional Craft


Otani ware represents Japanese traditional Crafts as utensil

You want to decorate your table with stylish tableware, don’t you? If so, how about Otani ware? Mugs, plates, spoons, and other items made with this traditional Japanese craft. They are fashionable, yet have a faintly Japanese atmosphere and are very sophisticated, and will surely make your dining table more colorful.

What is Otani-Yaki (Otani ware)?

It is a traditional craft that developed more than 230 years ago from Naruto City in Tokushima Prefecture, located in the western part of Japan. It is based on pottery making and traditionally produced fairly large pottery such as water jars. As time went on, the technique was applied to everyday items, and recently tableware has become popular.

Recent line-ups are so diversified

For example:

Daily Utensils

Coffee sets, teacups, hot sake bottles, sake cups, small plates, ashtrays, earthenware bottles, etc.

Tea utensils

Tea bowls, confectionery bowls, water jars, incense containers.

Decorative items

Ornaments: Decorative plates, hanging frames, figurines, wall hangings, vases.

Garden furniture

Benches, tables, lanterns

Large items

Water jars (up to 6 stones), water lily pots (up to 4.3 feet), umbrella stands

Building ceramics

Decorative bricks, decorative bricks, ceramic crafts

Other ceramics

Other ceramics: Plant pots (large and small (unglazed pots, etc.), field flower vases, feeders, flower vase


Otani-ware products


Set contents: a mug, a free bowl (S), a square plate (M), and a spoon
Made with Aizome (indigo-dyed colors used to said as lucky color in Japan)

stylish dishes

Price: 95.98 USD (other currency available)

This piece is based on a calm indigo color and expresses a monotone with off-white and brown. This is the best tableware set for enjoying a mature and stylish dining atmosphere. This is a superb product produced by Onishi Toki, a company with a long history founded in 1919.


stylish plates


Set contents:  a set of two cups and saucers created by skilled artisans using the Rokuro method.

stylish teacup

Price: 85.75 USD (other currency available)

It can be used not only as a cup and saucer, but also as a flower vase or interior decoration. It is a product that can be used in a variety of ways depending on the user’s free imagination.



Set contents: a set of two large free cups with a beautiful contrast of red and blue.

2 piece Otani ware mug cup

Price: 76.44 USD (other currency available)

You can also use the saucer as a small plate. Thai is, you can use it as a plate to put sweets or cakes on, or as a plate to put appetizers on when you invite your friends over for a home party!

How did Otani ware develop?

Otani ware is said to have originated in the late Edo period (1780), when Bunemon, a potter from Bungo Province (Oita Prefecture), visited Otani Village to show his pottery making skills for the first time, and fired the pottery by using red clay. At that time, pottery was extremely rare in the land of Awa (Tokushima Prefecture). The Lord Haruaki Hachisuka, who was interested in the exquisite techniques, ordered that porcelain called Nanking and Karatsu. This was the first time that porcelain was fired in Awa. However, the kiln became unprofitable because expensive raw materials had to be imported from Kyushu, and the kiln was discontinued after only three years.

In 1784, thanks to the work of indigo merchant Kagaya Bungoro , a “Renbo-style climbing kiln” was built in the village for firing ceramics for daily use. Then, the production of pottery began, led by “Noda Heijihei” who hired Shigaraki ware craftsmen to learn the techniques. This is said to be the prototype of today’s Oya ware.

There are different classifications for
different types of kilns.

It often happens on traditional crafts, and so for Otani-ware. Otani-Yaki is categorized with types of kilns to burn porcelain. Each kilns have different feature by which manufactured goods shows unique color and shape that distinguish them from products from other types of kilns. There are four kinds of kilns: cellar kiln, climbing kilns, electric kilns, and gas kilns.

1.    climbing kilns

The kiln is designed to fire pottery with wood and is divided into several rooms like a staircase so that the fire climbs to the top. 

Climbing kilns for Otani ware
Source: Craftwork of Tokushima

2.    electric kilns

A method of firing in a kiln that allows sufficient oxygen to be absorbed during firing. This method produces the most stable firing, with less unevenness and distortion, and clearer colors.(pic: https://umezatogama.com/about/)

electronic kilns for otani ware
Source: Umezato Gama

3.    Gas kilns

This kiln is a method of firing with limited oxygen. The result is a gradation of colors, as if one type of glaze is made of many different colors. Some people don’t like the unevenness of firing, but this is one of the best parts of handmade ceramics.

gas kilns for Otani ware
Source: Umezato Gama

Manufacturing Method and Process

Same as other traditional crafts, you will feel unfamiliar with the processes. Japanese Website (KOGEI JAPAN) is promoting traditional Japanese crafts posts easy-to-understand explanations about the whole processes. Here’s quotation from the page:

  • Grinding
    The raw material of clay is collected and ground into fine pieces after drying.
  • Sieving
    The ground clay is sieved and refined by removing impurities.
  • Elutriation
    After purification, the clay is placed inside a water tank and the stirring process begins. While stirring, the clay is gradually transferred by pouring the soil into another water tank
    Once the transfer has been completed, all of the foreign matter is caught in a sieve, and then left for a while until the potter’s clay that forms the raw material for porcelain settles. The settled potter’s clay is moved to a pot and left until it becomes moderately hard.
  • Clay kneading
    The artisan steps barefooted on top of round shaped potter’s clay, using both feet to tread so as to push out the clay. This process, called araneri kneading, is carried out to make the whole piece of clay evenly soft.
    Next kikuneri kneading is done with the hands in order to extract air bubbles from inside the clay while rotating clay that has already been kneaded by foot.
  • Casting
    The clay is moved onto a lathe, where it is shaped by hand.
    When producing large ceramics, artisans work in pair to use Otani ware’s traditional nerokuro casting technique to produce casts. One artisan lays down with their feet against the cast while the other one stands next to the piece.
  • Drying
    Pieces that have been cast are then dried indoors in the shade. When producing large ceramics such as jugs and pots, the drying process will take about twenty days. For small pieces of pottery, drying typically requires between two and seven days.
    Next, the pieces are moved outdoors to be dried under sunlight. Here, large pieces are dried for around two or three days, and small pieces are typically dried in about one day.
  • Glazing
    Once the pieces have been dried under sunlight, the next step is to glaze with enamel.
    There are three main methods of glazing: namagake, in which enamel is applied without bisque firing*; hitashigake, where articles are soaked in enamel after bisque firing; and nagashigake, where enamel is poured over the pieces using a ladle.
    In addition, the bisque process takes between eight and sixteen hours in a kiln at a temperature of around 800
     (about 1472).*Bisque firing is an initial firing done at a low temperature before any glaze is applied.
  • Loading pots into the kiln
    The pots are neatly placed in the kiln for baking.
  • Firing
    The kiln temperature is set to around 1230 (about 2246) before moving on to the firing process in which the pieces are baked.
    There are three types of kiln: climbing kilns, electric kilns, and gas kilns. The period of time required for firing is different in each type of kiln.
    For climbing kilns, five to six days and nights are required, while electric kilns and gas kilns require one to two days.
  • Inspection
    The items are removed from the kiln and checked for chips and cracks.
  • Completion
    Only items that have passed the inspections are sold as finished pieces.







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