Akazu ware with a wide variety of techniques | Traditional Japanese crafts in Aichi prefecture

Akazu ware
Source: https://kougeihin.jp/info/20190830_blog/

Pottery with a wide variety of pieces


What are the characteristics of Akazu ware?

Akazu ware is characterized by seven types
of glazes: Oribe and Shino, Kiseto, Koseto, ash glaze and Omakai, and iron
glaze. Oribe, Shino and Kizeto are also found in Mino ware, the traditional
craft of neighboring Gifu Prefecture. Some of this work look like Otani ware. The geographical proximity has given rise
to the similarities. Akazu ware also features the use of 12 different
decorative techniques, including Mishima-de, herabori, inka, and kushime. The
wide variety of glazes and decorative techniques allows for a wide range of
combinations, resulting in an overwhelming power of expression. Because
beautiful three-dimensional expressions are possible, they captivate and
fascinate the viewer, and can be enjoyed and used for a long time without
becoming tired of them.

Akazu ware
Source: Japan Traditional crafts AOYAMA Square

  • Oribe is made using a glaze of feldspar
    mixed with earth ash and copper oxide. Oribe of Akatsu ware refers to
    “Blue Oribe,” which is colored green or black, and is made by
    underglazing with iron or other glaze on a white base, glazing, and firing.
    Oribe also includes black Oribe, red Oribe, and painted Oribe, and is the
    general term for tea utensils favored by Furuta Oribe, a Momoyama period tea

  • Shino is mainly white glazed with feldspar
    (white Shino), but there are also other types such as red Shino, which has a
    color called scarlet, similar to vermillion red; rat Shino, which is
    characterized by a light gray color; and e Shino, which is characterized by a
    thick, pottage-like appearance.

  • Ki (yellow) -seto glaze is
    characterized by its yellow color and is a type of iron glaze made by mixing
    feldspar and earth ash with ochre. However, the proportion of iron contained in
    the glaze is as low as 10%, and the yellowish color is produced by
    “oxidizing firing,” in which more oxygen is taken into the kiln to
    fire the ware. The yellowish color varies depending on the kiln.

  • Koseto is a type of iron glaze made by
    mixing feldspar with clay ash, water-impregnated clay, or devil’s plate clay.
    The heavy brownish-brown color mixed with black was favored by tea masters, and
    many tea utensils such as tea containers were made during the Azuchi-Momoyama

  • Haiyu(Ash glaze) is made of crushed ashes of
    plants (broad-leaved trees such as oak and horse chestnut) and stones dissolved
    in water. It is fired over unglazed earthenware to prevent water leakage. Many
    of the vessels are light yellow-green or brown in color and have a rustic, warm

  • Ofukei is the newest glaze in Akazu ware.
    The Owari Tokugawa family set up a kiln in the Omakaimaru area of Nagoya
    Castle, and in 1638 invited Chen Yuan-Pin* to make pottery with
    Vietnamese-style gosu painting. Omamai, which contains a large amount of
    feldspar, produces a pale blue color.

  • Iron glaze is the typical colors of black
    and dark brown, but depending on the heating conditions during firing, the
    color can change from reddish brown to black.

Although most Akazu ware is made for Japanese tea culture and tea ceremony utensils and flower arrangement tools, it is also applied to household
items, so it can be said that Akatsu ware is more accessible and familiar than
one might think. It has a long history of being fired in the form of so-called
sake cups and tableware, so you can enjoy finding your favorites and find gifts
for your loved ones.

Not flashy in appearance, there is
no doubt that there is a rich variety of expression and a depth of color and
texture. Elegant and practical, Akazu-yaki is precisely the kind of attractive
pottery that is packed with the skills of traditional Japanese craftsmanship.

akazu ware
Source: Aichi Local Industry

History of Akatsu Pottery

Akazu-yaki has a long history of
development together with Seto ware, and has been handed down from the opening
of the kilns in the Heian period to the present day. In the Akazu district of
Seto City, Aichi Prefecture, which is famous for Akazu-yaki, the ruins of the Konagaso
pottery kiln, which is believed to date back to the Muromachi period, still

In the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1600),
Seto experienced a rapid decrease in the number of kiln makers, known as
Setoyama Ranbari, and the kilns were moved to the Mino region. This recalling
of the kiln attracted potters to Akazu village, and Akazu ware, once a fading
presence, was revived. In recent years, however, the prevailing theory is that
it was Tokugawa Ieyasu, not Tokugawa Yoshinao.

It is believed that the truth of these
histories was that the potters were recalled to coincide with the opening of
Nagoya. In 1616, potters from Akazu were called to Nagoya Castle, and a kiln
was built in the Omukaimaru area. Although it was abolished in 1871 due to the
abolition of feudal domains, it is still famous today as Bishu Oniwa-yaki.
Seven types of glazes and 12 types of decorative techniques have been handed
down to the present day, and the rich expressiveness established over the long
history of Akazu ware is used in the creation of these works.

Manufacturing Method & Process

1. Clay preparation

The first step is to make the clay. Seto
clay such as Motoyamakibushi clay, Garome clay, and Akatsuyama clay are used.
The excavated soil and stones are crushed, sieved, and soaked in water. Once
the fine soil that has accumulated on top is separated, it is laid down for a
while in a dimly lit storage room called a muro. The soil is then removed from
its resting place and pushed with the feet or hands to release the air that has
accumulated in the soil. After that, the clay is carefully kneaded by twisting it.

2. Molding

There are three main molding methods.

Rokuro molding

In this method, the clay is placed on a
rotating stand and formed into the shape of a vessel. There are two types of
wheels: one that is turned by hand or foot, and the other that is motorized.

Tatara molding

Slices of clay are layered on a board to
form a shape. This method is used to make box-shaped vessels and square dishes.


The term “tebineri” refers to the
method of forming the final product directly by hand, without using tools.
There are two types of hand-binieri: one is to use a potter’s wheel to make the
basic shape and then shape it by hand, and the other is to use clay in the form
of a string and then roll it into a shape as if wrapping it around a coil.

3. Shiraji Kashoku (decoration on the base)

Once the shape is completed, the spout of a
teapot or the base of a tea bowl is made and the piece is finished. After
adding small parts, the piece is decorated. There are 12 decorative techniques
used for Akazu ware: herame, tataki, shurime, herabori, sogi, nunome, sukibori,
mishimategate, inka, kushime, ukikashibori, and hariwashi. A wide variety of
tools such as combs and nets are used to draw gorgeous patterns.

4. Underglaze painting

Underglaze painting is applied before
glazing. The underglaze painting is done directly on the base with a brush.
Pigments such as akae, gosu, and ochre are used.

5. Glazing

This process is broadly classified into the
seven types of glazes mentioned earlier.

6. Firing

The firing process begins at a low temperature
and gradually raises the temperature to 1170 to 1250 degrees Celsius. Firing
time ranges from 24 to 30 hours.

7. Tochi-shibu (Tochishibu glaze)

In the case of Oribe, fired pieces are
soaked in a liquid containing dissolved acorn astringent substance for about
one day. By allowing the astringent substance to seep into the cracks of the
glaze, the oxidized cavities on the surface are removed.

akazu ware
Source: Japan Traditional crafts AOYAMA Square
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