Hasami ware

Hasami ware Hasami yaki

High-class porcelain to export and familiar bowls for the local commoners
Both are the history and traditions of Hasami pottery


What is Hasami ware ?

Hasami ware is a form of porcelain produced in Hasami in the Nagasaki prefecture. This is a traditional handicraft that was first produced in the latter part of the Warring States period (1467-1603) and that remains popular today as daily use tableware. The characteristics of Hasami ware are the beauty of its white porcelain and its quasi-transparent indigo blue gosu porcelain (a special type of blue enamel).
Particularly well-known examples of Hasami ware include "kurawanka bowls", "compra bottles" and "warenikka tableware".
The name "kurawanka bowls" comes from the shout in old Japanese with a Nagasaki accent of "How about some sake?" ("sake kurawanka?") or "How about some mochi?” ("mochi kurawanka?") that accompanied the sale of these utensils.
"Compra bottles" were mainly produced for export. The root word comes from the Portuguese term for a "broker". The Compra Trading Company also used compra bottles to export sake and soy sauce. This business was carried out around the end of the Edo period (1603-1868), with exports shipped from Dejima (the only island that was still open to some parts of the world during the Edo period) to Europe and other places.
"warenikka tableware" was developed in 1987 as difficult-to-break tableware to bring to school for lunch. It is also said to be the root of reinforced porcelain. At the beginning, it was only used by elementary schools in Hasami, but with the spread of school lunches it was later shipped to schools and hospitals outside of Nagasaki prefecture as well, and eventually came to be used all around Japan.


Hasami ware - History

Hasami ware began in 1598, when Yoshiaki OMURA, the lord of the Omura domain, brought back potters from Korea. The actual porcelain production began one year later, in 1599. The type of kiln used at that time was the ascending kiln, and such kilns were established in three locations: Hatanohara, Furusaraya, and Yamanita.
The mainstream modern-day Hasami ware are dyed or celadon porcelain pieces with a beautiful contrast between the white porcelain and the indigo, but in the period after the formation of these kilns they were used for slipware. Dyed or celadon porcelain became mainstream from the year 1602, and there was a gradual shift from slipware to porcelain with the discovery of the raw materials for porcelain. Thereafter, the production output of porcelain increased, showing such growth that by the latter part of the Edo period (1603-1868) it boasted Japan's largest production output.
The kurawanka bowls were behind it becoming the most widely produced porcelain in Japan. The common people of the Edo period viewed porcelain as a high-class object, but "kurawanka bowls" were sold at moderate prices, so they adorned the dining tables of many common households.

General Production Process

  1. 1.Porcelain stone / Grinding Amakusa porcelain stone is the raw material for Hasami ware production. Amakusa porcelain stone is a clay porcelain stone mined from the Amakusa peninsula. Also known as Amakusa potter’s clay and Amakusa stone, it is also frequently used in other porcelains such as Arita ware.
    The mined Amakusa porcelain stone is first grinded and manually sorted into various grades of quality (from 1 to 5). The sorted porcelain stone is then turned into fine powder and the elutriation is carried out. Elutriation is a process that removes silica grains from ground porcelain stone placed inside a mixer, removes iron, and performs dehydration by applying pressure.
    After kneading to remove air from the soil whose moisture has been extracted to a certain extent in a kneading machine, the loam is complete.
  2. 2.Casting Casting can be performed with a mechanical potter’s wheel, a manual potter’s wheel, a roller machine, or by casting in a mold, etc. Porcelain can also be cast by hand, but this is not commonly used in Hasami ware as it is mostly produced using molds.
    After the casting has been completed, the pieces are thoroughly dried in a place with good ventilation and exposure to sunlight.
  3. 3.Unglazed firing Once the pieces have dried, the kiln is fired at 800 to 950℃.
    The unglazed firing increases the strength of the material and improves water absorbency, making it easier to perform underglazed decoration and glazing.
    Once baked, substances attached to the outer surface can be removed using feather dusters or other tools.
  4. 4.Undercoating The decoration carried out before the glazing is known as "undercoating".
    The characteristic indigo blue of Hasami ware comes from dyed gosu porcelain.
    Undercoating may be carried out with a writing brush or by printing.
  5. 5.Glazing This is the process of applying glaze to porcelain once the undercoating has been completed.
    The purpose of using glaze is not only to show the beautiful luster of the porcelain, but also to add functions such as dirt or leak prevention as well as increasing strength through the application of a glassy film.
  6. 6.Glost firing In this process, items are baked at around 1300℃.
    Glaze can shoot out when removed from the kiln immediately after baking, so items are to be removed only after the temperature has been gradually lowered down almost to room temperature.
  7. 7.Overglazing Pigments that have temperature-related restrictions, such as red paint, are used when overglazing.
    After coloring with a top paint, the pieces are completed by firing at 750 to 850℃. Although this process varies a little when overglazing with gold paint using gold leaves. Firing is necessary once overglazing with materials other than gold paint has been completed. Gold paint is applied after the firing which is carried out at a low temperature of around 400℃ after glazing.
  8. 8.Inspection Hasami ware is shipped only after each piece has been carefully inspected one by one.

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