BIZEN Historic Homeland of Bizen Pottery


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That's Bizen Pottery

 That's Bizen Pottery
 Bizen Pottery and Its Beauty

Bizen Pottery is one of the six famous ancient medieval pottery styles in Japan, including Seto, Tokoname, Tamba, Shigaraki and Echizen. It is also known as "Imbe Pottery" based on the name of the area. Bizen Pottery traces its long history back to Sueki Pottery (earthenware fired with no glaze) in the Tumulus Period. From the Heian Period to the early Kamakura Period, potters started to produce more practical and durable wares for everyday use. This is believed to be the beginning of Bizen Pottery.
The beauty of Bizen Pottery is in its unadorned simplicity. Its unglazed austere appearance caught the attention and admiration of tea ceremony masters in Sakai and Kyoto. In the Momoyama Period, a number of masterpiece tea bowls were created.

Experiencing hard times ever since, Bizen Pottery has begun a new stage of its development. It produces many art pieces in addition to its practical products. Not a single day has passed without smoke rising from the kilns of Bizen in its thousand year history. Four national treasures have been designated: the late Toyo Kanashige, the late Kei Fujiwara, the late Toshu Yamamoto and Yu Fujiwara.
The brownish surface produced by the combination of clay, fire and man is created in a kiln that continues firing for two weeks at a temperature of about 1,300°C. Its mysterious and simple heart-warming elegance retains nature and our minds which have been lost in modern society, and appeals to many people including Bizen enthusiasts overseas. Today the unparalleled long history and tradition of Bizen Pottery, as well as its infinite beauty are firmly inherited by nearly 300 excellent artists and potters who produce numerous great pieces from their kilns in Bizen.
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 Kiln Effect Variation of Bizen Pottery

When a piece gets buried in the ashes at the bottom of the kiln, it gets only indirect fire and poor air circulation, causing oxidation-reduced firing. It creates colors of gray, dark gray and blue.

When pine ashes melt in the high heat, they create an ash glaze on the surface of a piece which looks as if the it were covered with sesame seeds. Many Goma pieces are placed on the shelves near the fire, and they get covered with plenty of ash. When the ashes run on the surface of a piece, the piece is called "Tamadare".

When a small piece of clay is placed on a plate or bowl in firing, the small spot leaves an unfired red spot. This is called Botan-mochi.

A white or light brown piece with red lines. This effect is made by placing rice straws between pieces and wrapping a piece with them. When firing a large piece, the piece is placed in a rice straw sack so that it does not get exposed to the fire directly.

When a piece is placed in a rice straw sack in a certain part of the kiln, and smothered in strong firing, it turns blue gray. This is called Ao-Bizen. Ao-Bizen fired with salt is called Shokuen-ao.

When a piece is covered with another piece on top, it creates two different colors at the top and bottom. This is called Fuseyaki. Sake bottles are often fired with this method.

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