Aizu-hongo ware Aizu hongo yaki
An area famous for producing ceramics and porcelain since a long time ago
Each pottery produces ceramics with a different appearance
Aizu Hongo Ware is a traditional handicraft from Aizu in Fukushima Prefecture, with a history of about 400 years. This pottery, which is thought to have originated during the Sengoku Period, was patronized and promoted by the lord of the Aizu Domain at the beginning of the Edo Period, after which the various potteries commenced independent production due to the breakup of the magistrate’s office. For that reason, each pottery produces articles in its own unique style. Aizu Hongo Ware includes both ceramics and porcelain, and there are potteries specializing in either porcelain or ceramics, as well as potteries producing both.
The characteristic of Aizu Hongo Ware is its various types of decoration, including porcelain dyed with blue paint called asbolite, with other traditional Japanese paints, and with many colors using paints from the West.
Many ceramics for practical use are produced using traditional enamel. There are various styles, such as celadon porcelain, white porcelain and carbonization, as well as a diverse range of finishes (glossy and non-glossy) and textures.
Production of Aizu Hongo Ware is said to have originated during the Sengoku Period, when military commander Ujisato GAMO became lord of the Aizu Domain, and roof tile production was commissioned when restructuring what is now Aizuwakamatsu Castle. Thereafter, at the beginning of the Edo Period, Masayuki HOSHINA, the founder of the Aizu-Matsudaira Domain, called potters from Owari to commence full-scale production. The production of ceramics and porcelain grew with support from the Domain. However, the industry would face two difficult periods due to the effects of war. At the time of the Boshin War, potters left to fight in battle and porcelain factories were burned down, temporarily forcing the industry into a state of inactivity. Subsequently, as all of the villages united in their activities, the industry recovered to such an extent that by the middle of the Meiji Period its products were being exported to the West.
In 1916, most of the porcelain factories were yet again destroyed in a large fire, plunging the industry into a difficult predicament, but it recovered magnificently. Aizu Hongo Ware has overcome periods of upheaval, its craft continuing without its long history ever being extinguished, and has become widely known as a form of ceramics and porcelain with simple beauty and excellent ease of use.
General Production Process
- 1. Weather exposure
The clay materials are exposed to wind and rain for a year or longer before work begins.
- 2. Kneading The weather-exposed clay is broken up and sieved, after which water is added and the clay is kneaded.
- 3. Lathe casting
The desired form is cast by using a lathe. Clay is spread out while rotating the lathe, pushed up to the top while arranging the form, and the lathe is stopped to smoothen the edges with leather.
- 4. Drying
Cast articles are dried by means of two methods: natural drying and heated drying. When pictures are painted onto the articles, designs are applied either directly onto the completed articles or after bisque firing.
- 5. Firing
Articles are baked inside the kiln for various periods of time to suit their respective purposes of use.
- 6. Removal of pots from the kiln
In order to prevent breakage, the baked articles are carefully cooled inside the kiln and are only removed from the kiln once they have cooled completely.
- 7. Inspection
The baked products are given a final check to confirm that there are no defects.
Where to Buy & More Information
ClosedSunday, public holiday, Year end and new year holidays
Business Hours10:00a.m.-6:00p.m. [Saturday]9:00a.m.-3:30p.m.