Izushi porcelain, a Japanese Traditional Crafts in Pursuit of White Color | Hyogo prefecture

Izushi porcelain
Source: Nagasawa

Izushi porcelain(ware) , the beauty of white shine

Izushi ware is characterized by the fact that it produces porcelain that is so pure white that not a single stain can be seen. Since the discovery of a pure white ceramic stone called Kakitanitoseki in Hyogo Prefecture, it has become one of the most famous porcelain production areas in Main land Japan. Izushi Pottery is also famous for its white porcelain carvings, which are designs carved into the pure white surface of the pottery. Craftsmen carve landscapes and flowers on the surface of white porcelain with their fine handiwork, creating unique outlook of Izushi ware in Japan. Reminiscent of silken skin, “white porcelain” Izushi ware has a clean, elegant, and graceful appearance, and its carvings further accentuate the white of the base material.

This porcelain is produced mainly in Toyooka City, Hyogo Prefecture. Toyooka City is located in the northern part of Hyogo Prefecture, facing the Sea of Japan. Currently, there are about four remaining Izushi pottery studios, producing mainly tokkuri, boinokuchi, vases, and miscellaneous daily utensils. Here we introduce some of the kilns that are still actively producing Izushi Pottery.

Izushi porcelain
Source: Horikawa Toubou


Izushi Pottery Nijiyo Toen is located in Toyooka City. Located in the castle town of Izushi, Kiln Kiln Nijiyo Toen has both a kiln and a gallery, where you can try your hand at baking Izushi pottery.

  • Location: 57 Yagi, Izushi Town, Toyooka City, Hyogo Prefecture 668-0225
  • Website: http://kouyoutouen.com/
  • E-mail : info@kouyoutouen.com

Nagasawa Brothers Pottery Co.

  • Location: 92-1 Uchimachi, Izushi Town, Toyooka City, Hyogo Pref.
  • Tel: 0796-52-2155
  • Website: http://www.izushiyaki-nagasawa.com/
Izushi ware
Source: Jibasan Tajima


History of Izushi Porcelain

From Clay Pottery to White Porcelain

Izushi Pottery is said to have originated during the reign of Emperor Taruhito, when the Japanese emperor Amanichi Yarimikoto arrived in Izushi, Tajima with a group of potters from the Korean Peninsula to bake tableware necessary for food, clothing, and shelter. The present Izushi Pottery is said to have started when Izuya Yazaemon opened the Sakurao Kiln (earthenware) in 1784. Later, in 1799, pottery stone, the raw material for white porcelain, was discovered in Kakitani, Izushi Town, and the production of porcelain began in earnest.

The Rise and Fall of Izushi Pottery

The clan kilns that operated under the support of the Izushi clan later shifted to the private sector, and many private kilns flourished. However, during the great transition from the end of the Edo period to the Meiji Restoration, Izushi Pottery also entered a period of decline. In 1876, the Yeongshinsha was established and Mr. Zenpei Shibata was invited from Saga Prefecture to provide guidance. The company produced white porcelain with realistic and exquisite workmanship and freshly painted underglaze blue enamel ware, and Izushi Pottery’s name was instantly recognized. (In 1885, Yeongshinsha was closed down.)

In 1899, Mr. Yasukyo Tomoda was invited from Ishikawa Prefecture to establish the Prefectural Ceramics Laboratory, where further improvements were made to Izushi ware. In 1904, Izushi Pottery was awarded the Gold Prize at the World’s Columbian Exposition in St. Louis, U.S.A., and left behind works that are representative of Japan’s modern craft history. However, the war situation gradually became severe, and the testing center was closed in 1906.

And now…

Some of the potters who worked at Yeongshinsha, the foundation of today’s Izushi pottery, and at the testing center, went independent and opened their own kilns, some of which continue to this day. In 1980 (Showa 55), Izushi Pottery was designated as a national traditional craft.

Production Method and Process

1. Making clay

The raw material is toseki, a general term for rock, which is generally composed of 70% quartz and 30% silica mica. When the pottery stone is ground and kneaded, it becomes elastic like clay. This is called porcelain clay, which in the past was made by craftsmen themselves, but nowadays it is made in bulk and outsourced.

2. Molding

Molding is divided into the following three stages. Before molding, it is important to “knead” the clay well. This is the process of removing air from the clay, and it takes about 1~2 hours of careful kneading. Next comes shaping, which is done using a potter’s wheel. Once the shape is set, the bottom and surface are flattened using a potter’s wheel for the finishing touch.

3. Drying

The molded pieces are dried indoors for a period of 20 days to 1 month.

4. Carving

If relief carving or openwork is to be done on the surface of the work, a pattern is applied. In the case of relief carving, a chisel is used to cut away the surface of the work to make the image appear as if it is floating. Another method is pastebana, in which the pattern is pasted onto the material.

5. Soyaki (Base firing)

After attaching the pattern to the piece, it is finally fired, and placed in a fire at 800~900 degrees Celsius for 12~20 hours. After firing, the piece is left to cool for two days without being removed from the kiln, and on the third day, it is taken out of the kiln.

6. Painting

There are two types of painting: underglaze painting and overglaze painting. Underglaze painting is done before glazing, while overglaze painting is done after glazing. Designs are drawn in Iroe, Gozu, Kindami (gold glaze), Gindei (silver glaze), etc.

7. Glazing

Glazes are made from natural materials such as feldspar, potter’s stone, and limestone. There are two types of glazes: transparent glaze (for glazing) and crystalline glaze (for matting), both of which are used to protect the work from scratches and stains.

8. Hon-yaki (Main firing)

Porcelain is fired at 1,250 to 1,300 degrees Celsius for approximately 20 hours.

9. Kiln Removal

As in the case of unglazed porcelain, the pieces are allowed to cool for two days after firing, and are removed from the kiln on the third day. It takes more than one month to complete a piece of work.

Izushi ware
Source: https://www.izushi.co.jp/izushiyaki/features/

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