Izushi ware Izushi yaki
Uniquely pure whiteness completed gradually over months and years
Cool, clear and delicate white porcelain with beautiful simplicity
Izushi Ware is a form of porcelain produced in Izushicho, in Toyooka City, Hyogo Prefecture. Izushicho today has four potteries that are actively producing porcelain, inheriting traditions that have been handed down. The characteristic of Izushi Ware is its white porcelain, which is unusual even in Japan. Porcelain completed with perfect clarity, using a pure white raw material known as Kakitani Toseki (Kakitani pottery stone) , boasts an overwhelmingly vivid whiteness which cannot be found elsewhere. Various forms of Izushi Ware are produced depending on the unique policy of each kiln, such as potteries mastering traditional white porcelain and other potteries where articles with a wealth of individuality from detailed decoration are produced. Izushi Ware vessels, which have a silky white gloss, are also suitable as tableware for daily use, and continue to be popular today, having been refined through use in the service of Izushi buckwheat dishes, which are a traditional form of cuisine with a history of more than 300 years. Izushi Ware is also popular with tourists thanks to facilities that let people enjoy making their own decorations in a relaxed environment.
In 1764, during the Meiwa Period, Yazaemon IZUYA established a glost kiln in Izushicho, which is said to have marked the beginning of Izushi Ware. Thereafter, Chinzaemon NIHACHIYA resolved to start producing shirayaki (White Ware) in Izushicho, and went to Arita in order to learn production techniques with support from the Izushi Domain. Subsequently, he returned with a potter, but financial difficulties led to Chinzaemon moving to Tamba. The potter who remained carried on the will of Chinzaemon, becoming an artisan in unglazed earthenware in Izushicho, and thus Izushi porcelain came to be handed down.
Later, although the Izushi Domain set out to manage the kilns directly, it seems that management was more difficult than anticipated. However, in the latter part of the Edo Period, the ceramics industry in Izushi finally took off as the roots of modern-day Izushi Ware were established with the appearance of Enshinsha, an elite organization centered around working artisans from the Nabeshima kiln. Izushi Ware continued to improve with the discovery of large quantities of white porcelain ore. As a result, Enshinsha successfully produced a new kind of white porcelain, winning gold prize at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904, and thus Izushi Ware came to be well-known around the world.
General Production Process
- 1. Production of kaolin The porcelain stone that is used as raw material is a general term for rock, and normally consists of 70% quartz and 30% sericite. When this porcelain stone is hardened by mashing and kneading, a clay-like elasticity is produced. This is what is known as kaolin, which in times gone by was produced individually by artisans but is today consigned for batch production.
- 2. Casting
Casting is split into the following three steps.
Before casting, it is important to knead thoroughly. This process removes air from inside the kaolin, as the clay is carefully kneaded over a period of 1 to 2 hours. Next, the pieces are cast by modeling with a lathe. Once their form is prepared, the lathe is used to plane in order to smoothen the base and surface by way of finishing.
- 3. Drying Cast articles are dried indoors for a period of around 20 days to one month.
- 4. Engraving Patterns are formed when applying embossed carving or fretwork to the surfaces of articles. Embossed carving refers to a production technique in which images appear to have been lifted up by carving articles with chisels. Another method is known as tenka, whereby patterns are attached to raw materials.
- 5. Bisque Once patterns have been engraved on the productions, it is finally time for baking. The pieces are placed as they are inside a fire at about 800 to 900 degrees for 12 to 20 hours. Once baked, the pieces are left inside the kiln to cool for two days, and are taken out on the third day.
- 6. Painting There are two types of painting process: undercoating and overcoating. Undercoating involves drawing pictures or patterns before glazing, and overcoating involves drawing after glazing. Izushi Ware uses the undercoating process. Designs are drawn with iro-e (colored paint overglaze), gosu (asbolite), kindami (gold glazing), and gindei (silver glazing).
- 7. Glazing Although it is a chemical, enamel is a natural raw material based on fieldspar, potter’s stone and limestone. There are two types of enamel - transparent enamel (to produce glaze) and crystal enamel (to deglaze) - both of which serve to protect articles from scratches and dirt.
- 8. Glost firing With porcelain, the pieces are baked for around 20 hours at approximately 1,250 to 1,300℃.
- 9. Removal of pots from the kiln In the same manner as the bisque process, items that have been baked by means of glost firing are left to cool for two days before being removed from the kiln on the third day. It takes more than a month to produce an article, but at last the piece is finally complete.
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