Mino ware

Mino ware Mino yaki

General terms such as Shino, Oribe and Kizeto...
Japan’s largest porcelain-producing area with cultivation of high-quality potter’s clay


What is Mino ware ?

Mino Ware is a form of porcelain produced in the Tono area of Gifu Prefecture. It is adapted to modern life while also being supported by history and tradition.
The characteristic of Mino Ware is its diversity of types. Mino Ware does not adhere to a single form, but rather has 15 designated types of traditional handicrafts. Famous among these is Oribe Ware, which was produced by the aesthetics of Oribe FURUTA, established by Sen no Rikyu. Since these pieces were mainly produced in Setoguro during the Tenshou Period, they are also referred to by the names of taishouguro and hikidashiguro. Charming points include the deep color of green glaze, an individual form and decoration with geometrical patterns, and there are various types depending on the style of production, including black Oribe, blue Oribe and general Oribe.
Shino Ware, meanwhile, is decorated beneath its glaze, is one of the groundbreaking forms of pottery in the history of Japanese ceramics. The golden age of Shino Ware, with its beautiful light crimson color and bubbly texture produced by fieldspar glaze, was the Momoyama Period. With the assistance of Toyozo ARAKAWA, a living national treasure, Shino Ware was revived after temporarily disappearing during the Edo Period, and it lives on today. Kizeto, which has similarly received renewed attention in modern times, is popular form of Mino Ware that has a humble, simple appearance.


Mino ware - History

Mino Ware originated in around the 5th Century, when Sue Ware, lathes and hillside kilns were brought across from the Korean peninsula. In the Heian Period, ceramics were fired using glaze as Sue Ware was improved and turned into white porcelain to which ash glaze was applied. From the Azuchi-Momoyama Period until the start of the Edo Period, large volumes of highly artistic pottery were produced, reflecting the rise of tea ceremony culture, and the leading examples of Mino Ware, such as Oribe, Shino and Kazeto, were extremely successful.
From the second half of the 17th Century, containers for use in normal life started to be produced, and taihaku was fired with white glaze to give the appearance of the whiteness of the porcelain. In the final years of the Edo Period, porcelain production began, and translucent fieldspar porcelain came to be produced.
Moving into the Meiji Period, coloring stabilized with the start of importation of tougosu dyeing colorant, and various techniques were developed, such as sheet copper and screen prints. Around the middle of the Meiji Period, containers for everyday use started to be produced, and work was divided for each product in order to keep costs low.
At the end of the Taisho Period, mechanization advanced thanks to the start of electricity supply, leading to an expanded scale of production, and there was a shift from climbing kilns to charcoal kilns. In the Showa Period, production of high-class 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. Rotation serves to remove 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 lathe casting, hand forming or slab casting. Mass production is carried out using a great variety of templates, from prototype models through 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, pieces are slowly dried before the bisque stage. Drying is carried out either in the shade or under sunlight. The times required for drying varies depending on factors such as the application of patterns, decoration and thickness of unglazed pottery on which patterns are drawn with gold/bamboo combs, etc., as well as the sizes of pieces. Suitable time must be taken for each, and the pieces must be dried adequately.
  4. 4. Bisque Bisque is a process that removes moisture from clay, which is the raw material, and increases strength by burning combustible material. Firing is carried out slowly at a temperature of around 700 to 800 degrees. Bisque makes it easier to apply glaze.
  5. 5. Undercoating Undercoating is a process carried out prior to glazing, with paint applied beneath the glaze. Colorants of the desired colors are used to draw with brushes for decorating ceramics on dried, unglazed pottery after bisque. Once drawing has been completed, clear glaze is applied from the top. When using cobalt oxide known as “gosu ”, coloring is indigo blue, and pieces drawn with iron are colored dark reddish-brown or blackish-brown.

Where to Buy & More Information

Mino-Ware Tradition Indutrial Hall

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