What Is Bizen-yaki Pottery
Bizen Ware, or Bizen-yaki, has a history of more than a thousand years, and is said to be the oldest ancient pottery style (Bizen is the old name for the region currently known as Okayama). Bizen Ware took the current form during the Kamakura period (late 12C – early 14C). Because Bizen Ware had great durability, the techniques of Bizen Ware were used in pots, jars and mortars.
During the Muromachi period (early 14C – late 16C), as the Japanese tea ceremony developed as a transformative practice and as the principles of wabi and sabi gained importance, Bizen Ware gained popularity due to its simplicity. During this period the techniques of Bizen Ware were started being used in tea pottery.
After reaching its peak during the Azuchi-Momomya Period (late 16C – early 17C), Bizen Ware artists faced limitations during the Edo period (early 17C – late 19C) due to the regulations imposed by the feudal domains. Eventually new kilns were created by those who wished to restore Bizen Ware.
Bizen Ware regained popularity after the Meiji period (late 19C – early 20C) as various forms of traditional Japanese culture were re-evaluated. A number of artists were named Living National Treasures. In 1982 Bizen Ware was designated as the traditional Japanese craft by the Japanese government.
The techniques of Bizen Ware do not involve glazing or painting. By using pine wood as fuel, kiln flames are created (the resign in the pine wood causes high temperature) and these flames cause the change in the patterns of Bizen Ware. This is why each piece of Bizen Ware is unique and nobody cannot predict how each pottery will turn out.
Bizen Ware is highly recommended for decoration purposes thanks to its simplicity and the color that can match anything. Furthermore, people say that flowers last longer in a Bizen vase, food tastes better on Bizen plates, and sake / beer tastes better with Bizen mugs. Why is this? It is said that a scientist from Okayama Institute of Technology discovered that Bizen Ware blocks 90% of far-infrared rays, which keeps natural materials fresh and preserves the taste of food.
Bizen-yaki pottery can be created in a number of colors, and they all represent the creativity of the artists. The Bizen-yaki pottery products made by our partner artist come in two colors: Nobori and Hidasuki. Nobori has a darker color which is created by putting the pottery in the kiln for nearly a week with firewood. On the other hand, Hidasuki has a lighter color with a reddish line, which is created by the chemical reaction between the alkalic component in the straw put into the kiln and the iron in the soil.
Our Partner Artist: Mr. Kiko Ando (Narutaki)
Our partner artist is Mr. Kiko Ando. Born in 1977, Mr. Ando has won a number of awards. His Bizen-yaki potteries with the “Narutaki” brand have been created with a focus on everyday usage, as opposed to display purposes. He currently resides in Okayama prefecture.
Our Partner Artist: Mr. Kenji Takeda (Atobugama)
Mr. Takeda has worked as a candle designer at development and production departments at a major candle manufacturer in Okayama and Tokyo. He also has experiences as a sales executive, marketer, welder and carpenter at construction sites at a textile company. All of these experiences have transferred to the creative work at his Bizen-yaki studio, Atobugama. Mr. Takeda believes that Bizen ware is very profound and sometimes the result exceeds his assumption depending on the condition of fire inside a kiln. He is passionate about letting many people know about the greatness of Bizen ware and helping them use them in their daily lives.
We know what you have been worried about - the Bizen-yaki pottery products are securely packaged! The following is a picture of the packaging for Narutaki's products.