Mino ware

Mino ware Mino yaki

Produced with high quality clay
in Japan's largest porcelain-producing region


What is Mino ware ?

Mino ware is a ceramic ware produced in the Tono area, Gifu prefecture. It has adapted to modern lifestyles while keeping its history and tradition. The characteristic of Mino ware is its diversity of types. Mino ware does not adhere to a single form, but has over 15 designated types registered as traditional handicrafts.
The representative kind among these is Oribe ware, which was produced by the aesthetics of Oribe FURUTA, established by Sen no Rikyu (influential master of the tea ceremony, 1522-1591). Since the pieces were mainly produced in Setoguro during the Tensho period (1573-1593), so it is often referred to with the names of taisho guro or hikidashi guro. Oribe ware has a deep color of green glaze, an individual unique form and geometrical design patterns. There are various kinds including black, blue, and general Oribe depending on the style of production.
Meanwhile Shino ware has design patterns underneath its glaze, which is one of the epoch making forms of pottery in the history of Japanese ceramic ware. The golden age of Shino ware with beautiful light crimson color and bubbly texture produced by feldspar glaze was in the Momoyama period (1573-1600). Shino ware disappeared during the Edo period (1603-1868) but Toyozo ARAKAWA (1894-1985) who was given the title of Living National Treasure made tremendous efforts to revive it and it has come back now.
Kizeto, which has received renewed attention lately, is another popular kind of Mino ware with a humble and simple form.


Mino ware - History

Mino ware was created during the 5th century, when Sue ware, potter's wheels and hillside kilns were brought to Japan from the Korean peninsula. During the Heian period (794-1185), ceramic ware was fired with ash glaze coated white porcelain, which was an improved form of Sue ware.
From the Azuchi momoyama period (1573-1600) until the beginning of the Edo period (1603-1868), large volumes of highly artistic pottery were produced, reflecting the rise of the tea ceremony culture. Especially representative Mino ware such as Oribe, Shino and Kazeto were extremely important.
From the second half of the 17th century, household receptacles for daily use started to be produced and taihaku was fired with white glaze to give a white appearance for the porcelain. In the final years of the Edo period, porcelain production begun and translucent feldspar porcelain came to be produced.
Moving into the Meiji period (1868-1912), various techniques were developed such as sheet copper and screen prints as the coloring was stabilized by starting the importation of tougosu dyeing colorant. Around the middle of the Meiji period, daily household receptacles started to be produced, and the product division business was developed to offer lower cost. Then at the end of the Taisho period (1912-1926), mechanization advanced by electricity supply increased the production volume, which turned the climbing kilns to charcoal kilns.
In the Showa period (1926-1988), production of fine items and tiles started, and Mino ware became the form of pottery boasting the greatest production in Japan, both in terms of prestige and volume.

General Production Process

  1. 1. Clay kneading Clay with adequately homogenized hardness and moisture is kneaded little by little while rotating. The rotation serves to remove the air from inside the clay. Clay kneading is also known as \"chrysanthemum kneading\" because after kneading, the clay resembles chrysanthemum petals.
  2. 2. Casting Mino ware is mainly produced by potter"s wheel casting, hand forming or slab casting. Mass production is carried out using a great variety of templates, from prototype models to working molds. A \"blow mold\" produces muddy clay inside a concave plaster mold. \"Pressure casting\" is a method of casting by using compressed air to send clay mud to a plaster mold. Other molds that may be used include mechanical lathe molds, fully-automatic molds and press molds.
  3. 3. Drying Once work such as planing has been carried out after casting, the pieces are slowly dried before the bisque stage. They are dried in the shade or under the sunlight. The time required for drying varies depending on factors such as the application of patterns, decoration and the thickness of the unglazed pottery on which patterns are drawn with gold/ bamboo combs, etc., as well as the size of the pieces.
  4. 4. Bisque firing This process removes moisture from the raw material and increases durability by burning combustible material.
    The firing is carried out slowly at a temperature of around 700 to 800℃. The bisque firing makes it easier to apply the glaze.
  5. 5. Underglaze decoration Underglaze decoration is a process carried out prior to glazing, and patterns are drawn beneath the glaze.
    Colorants of the desired colors are used to draw with brushes for decorating ceramics on dried, unglazed pieces after the bisque firing. Cobalt, iron, and coppers are the most used colorants.
    Once the drawing is complete, clear glaze is applied from the top. When using cobalt oxide known as gosu, which turns colors into indigo blue, and pieces drawn with iron are colored in dark reddish-brown or blackish-brown.
  6. 6. Glazing Glaze is applied on the unglazed piece. The glaze melts when it is on fire and creates a vitrified coat on the surface, which deducts the permeability and increase the durability. Glazing acts as coloring and coating to shine and to decorate the piece. There are 3 basic kinds of glaze: ash glaze, feldspar glaze, and lead glaze. Various kinds of glaze can be made by adding iron, copper or metal to those basic glazes.
    Drip-glazing, dip-glazing and spray glazing are frequently used glazing techniques.
  7. 7. Glost firing This is a firing at high temperature carried out after the glazing. The pieces are carefully packed into the kiln to ensure that the temperature inside the kiln does not change.
    Major kiln kinds are climbing kilns, gas kilns and electric kilns.
  8. 8. On glaze decoration This process consists in painting figures and patterns on the glost fired pieces with on glaze decoration brushes.
    There are red painting, color painting and five-color painting for the on glaze decoration painting techniques. The paints are a mixture of metallic components such as iron, copper, cobalt, or manganese with soda or lead.
    After the delicate lines are drawn, the pieces are sent to firing between 700 and 800℃, which is lower than the glost firing to prevent the colors to fade.
  9. 9. Finishing After the final firing is done, file the surface to complete the piece.

Where to Buy & More Information

Mino-Ware Tradition Indutrial Hall

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