Shigaraki ware | Eye-catchy Raccoon dog pottery


Raccoon dog pottery? No, there is more variety.

Shigaraki ware is a pottery produced mainly in Shigaraki Town, Koka City, Shiga Prefecture. It is one of the six oldest kilns in Japan. It is characterized by its high quality, sticky clay, and has been used to make a wide range of items, from small to huge. Although the tanuki (raccoon dog) figurines are famous, Shigaraki ware was once used as jars, pots, and mortars, and since the modern period it has developed as containers and tools for people’s daily lives, such as brazier, umbrella stand, bathtub, tiles, and so on.

Among them, the “hi-iro,” or fire-red color, which is produced by firing pottery without glaze to bring out the texture of the clay, “ishi-haze,” in which ingredients in the clay appear as white grains on the surface by slow firing at high temperatures, and “natural glaze,” in which the color develops from the melted ash of firewood, were produced by human hands since the Middle Ages. The artistry of the clay and fire, which cannot be 100% controlled, is a highlight of the beauty that they produce, and has a history of being loved in the world of the tea ceremony.

In fact, Shigaraki ware is one of my closest neighbors. This is because I used to live near where Shigaraki ware was produced. In fact, we had a raccoon dog figurine in our house, which has become a symbol of Shigaraki ware. There are so many different Shigaraki ware products that it is rather a mystery to the people in the area where I lived why so many raccoon dog figurines were synonymous with Shigaraki ware. Rather, I believe that raccoon figurines became so famous in Japan that the artisans manufactured more of them as branding. For those of us who live in the area, the products were more impressive as daily necessities.

Shigaraki pottery

History of Shigaraki Ware

Shigaraki ware dates back to the Kamakura period (13th century).

Kamakura and Muromachi Periods

Around the 13th century, Shigaraki ware was strongly influenced by the techniques of Tokoname ware, and by the 14th century, Shigaraki ware’s unique style had been established. The production of pots, jars, bowls, and other pottery that was suited to daily life flourished. Along with Seto, Tokoname, Tanba, Bizen, and Echizen, which opened in the same period, Shigaraki ware is one of the six oldest kilns in Japan, and has a long history that has been handed down to the present.

Azuchi-Momoyama Period

Shigaraki ware, with its earthy, rough, and rustic texture, is thought to be in harmony with the spirit of Wabicha (tea ceremony), and has attracted the attention of tea masters. Shigaraki ware came to be regarded as tea utensils with aesthetic value and was highly valued as tea ceremony utensils.

Edo Period

In the Edo period, climbing kilns were built, enabling large-scale production. Although unglazed ware production had long been a characteristic of the pottery industry, glazed production also began in response to the nationwide demand for glazed ceramics. Tea pots became the main product of the period, and the area also developed into a major production center for a wide variety of miscellaneous daily utensils that supported the lives of the common people.

Source: Lots of Ghibli Donguri Republic

Meiji – Showa Period

Shigaraki tanuki became well-known throughout Japan. Utilized for the Tower of the Sun and the National Diet Building. With modernization, production of new products began as industrial goods, such as itotori pots and acid-resistant ceramics for the chemical industry. It was also in Shigaraki that the train earthenware bottles that were developed for the increased number of travelers due to the generalization of railroads were supplied throughout the country.

Hibachi (brazier), which began to be manufactured in the late Edo period, became popular for its resistance to rapid heating and cooling, and became the main product with the largest market share in Japan. They were also used as substitute ceramics during the war as a result of metal offerings.

It was in 1951 that Shigaraki became famous for its tanuki figurines. When the Emperor Showa visited Shigaraki, he was welcomed by many Shigaraki tanuki, mainly those made by Tetsuzo Fujiwara, the founder of Rian, a Shigaraki ware master craftsman who had made many Tanuki figurines, along with braziers piled up like arches, with the Japanese flag ontheir sides. The Emperor Showa was pleased to see them, and later wrote a poem, “If you look at the tanuki of Shigaraki Yaki, you will be impressed with the beauty of Shigaraki. The news coverage of this event brought Shigaraki tanuki to the attention of the entire country.

Shigaraki ware today

Shigaraki ware has changed along with people’s daily lives while retaining unchanged and beloved daily utensils and tea utensils. In recent years, demand has also increased for Shigaraki ware as a building material, including interior products such as bathtubs and washbasins for lodging facilities and restaurants that create a Japanese atmosphere, as well as exterior products such as exterior wall tiles.

shigaraki ware

Features of Shigaraki ware

Shigaraki ware is said to be characterized by the natural ash fall glaze (called beadlo glaze) formed by sprinkling ash on the pottery, a faint red or light oyster-like fire color on the surface due to the iron in the clay as it is fired, and the “burn” phenomenon, in which areas buried in wood ash turn dark brown, giving the pottery a unique flavor.

Fire color (Scarlet)

It refers to the color of pottery that has developed a faint reddish hue through firing. The hue changes slightly depending on humidity, firing method, and other factors. Such changes, which cannot be controlled by human hands, are known as “kiln tinge. Shigaraki pottery is highly valued for its warm coloring, which is reflected in the whiteness of the clay and gives the appearance of human skin.

Kiln Aji

Firewood burned out in climbing kilns and anagama kilns turns to ash and accumulates in the kiln. When pottery is placed in an area where these ashes accumulate, the bottom of the pottery is buried in the ashes, and a blackish brown coloration appears in this area, which is called “charring. The rusty color of this charring is highly prized in tea ceremony ceramics.


Shigaraki clay is of high quality and contains a large amount of feldspar, which gives the clay a unique appearance of milky-white specks caused by the dissolution of coarse feldspar grains in the clay that is not hydrofiltrated. This type of clay surface is one of the characteristics of Shigaraki ware.

Recommended Shigaraki ware products

Picture ©BECOS

Vendor’s comment

The warm Shigaraki ware is decorated with a rare “Yuzen
foil” with a pattern on silver foil. 
Yuzen foil has auspicious “Kanoko pattern” and
“Hemp pattern”. 
It is a gem
that will be appreciated when used by a married couple or when giving a gift.


$112.70 USD

Shigaraki ware
Picture ©BECOS

Vendor’s comment

A simple and warm earthenware pot! The color like a raccoon
figurine makes you feel warm and cozy.
The far-infrared
earthenware pot brings out the flavor of the ingredients, making it perfect for
a hot pot meal that tastes good all the way to the end.
” Hang
out” means “let’s be lazy”.
Once in a while,
it is a good idea to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and
have a relaxing meal.
Why don’t you gather around the fire and enjoy a
relaxing time together?


$112.70 USD

Shigaraki ware
Picture ©BECOS



$112.70 USD

Shigaraki ware
Picture ©BECOS

  1              3 

Let's share this post !