Bizen ware

Bizen ware Bizen yaki

One of Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns
Strong and warm baskets


What is Bizen ware ?

Bizen Ware is a form of pottery produced in the area around the city of Bizen in the Okayama prefecture. Bizen ware is one of Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns : together with Shigaraki, Tamba, Echizen, Seto and Tokoname, it is considered to be one of the most oustanding Japanese kilns with traditions that remain down to this day.
Bizen ware has a unique manufacturing method as it does not use glaze. Generally, baked pottery is given luster and water-resistance by coating it with glaze, but since Bizen ware does not use glaze, there is no luster so only a simple impression is produced.
Glaze is also usually used for patterning, but there is no such work involved in the production of Bizen ware, so each individual pattern is different, resulting in pottery where pieces cannot be identical, and this too is one of the charms of Bizen ware. The reason for not using glaze lies in the clay known as hiyose, which is collected around Bizen and only used for Bizen ware. This clay makes the procedure of spreading the enamel more difficult than other clays but great success has been achieved in producing durable porcelain with it. The artisans had and still have to consider different ways of overcoming the nature of this clay and bake it inside kilns for a long time without touching it to make Bizen ware as it is.


Bizen ware is a form of porcelain that was developed based on the manufacturing method of "Sue pottery", which was a blue-gray pottery introduced from the Korean peninsula during the Tumulus period (around 250 to 538 AD) The prevailing theory is that it was modeled as Bizen ware during the Heian period (794-1185), beginning with the production of bowls for daily use and roof tiles. In the Kamakura period (1185–1333), items in reddish brown were deemed as being one of the characteristic colors of Bizen ware, and in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) these pieces started to use hiyose clay (see top paragraph). Also, in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573-1600), Bizen ware was said to be favored by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, who governed most of Japan at that time, and by Sen no Rikyu, a master of the tea ceremony. Many people adored the Bizen ware used in tea ceremonies because its simplicity complemented the spirit of refined simplicity found in the tea ceremonies.
The spirit of Bizen ware perdures today. In 1956, Toyo KANESHIGE was selected as a Living National Treasure for his work as a Bizen ware potter, and many other Living National Treasures were selected for their work in the same field since then, including the likes of Kei FUJIWARA and Toshu YAMAMOTO.

General Production Process

Leading Ateliers

Bizen ware atelier

Konishi-toko<br>Bizen ware atelier

We create traditional Bizen ware by respecting the traditions such as using Japanese red pine as firewood.
Our atelier was created by Toichiro KONISHI who gave his name to Konishi toko. One of his greatest accomplishments was to discover a way to create natural landscape colors artificially. This type of Bizen ware is called zangiri.
You can find superb handicraft and delicate Bizen ware molding techniques through the beautiful vivid colors of zangiri, tea ceremony utensils or zodiac signs ornaments.
The grandson of our founder, Tozo KONISHI, is now in charge of supervising our atelier's works while working as an artist. He was designed as an Intangible Cultural Property Holder of the city of Bizen.

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Bishu-gama atelier

Bishu-gama atelier

Bishu-gama atelier was founded in 1974 after an idea from the Living National Treasure Toshu YAMAMOTO by his eldest son, Yuichi, and his wife.

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Where to Buy & More Information

Bizen ware Dento Sangyo Kaikan

Bizen ware Dento Sangyo Kaikan Photo:Bizenyaki Dento Sangyo Kaikan

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