What is Tokoname ware (Tokonameyaki)?
The simplicity and durability that has been loved all over Japan for a thousand years.
One of the six ancient kilns in Japan with attractive coloring that makes the most of the earth’s skin
What are the characteristics of Tokoname ware and the production area?
Tokoname ware is a pottery made around Tokoname City, Aichi Prefecture.
A traditional craft that was born in the latter half of the Heian period, it is considered to be one of the six ancient kilns in Japan, and is known as a ceramic that has been produced for a long time since the Middle Ages.
The characteristic of Tokoname ware is that it uses pottery clay that contains a lot of iron from the Chita Peninsula.
Taking advantage of this property, the red coloration of iron is called red clay, and the color of Tokoname ware is characteristic of the pottery.
Various products such as bowls and flower pots are made, but among them, Kyusu is said to have iron content that softens the bitterness and astringency of tea, and is still popular today.
There are many kilns in the hills of the Chita Peninsula in Aichi Prefecture, and they have been produced by craftsmen with traditional techniques since ancient times.
Craftsmen who make high-quality products have inherited the technology in the history of 1,000 years and handed down techniques such as “hand twist molding”.
Among the hand-twist moldings that have been used since the Heian period, “Yoriko-zukuri” is a method used when making large products such as large jars. In addition, there is “mold molding” when making bonsai pots and “potter’s wheel molding” using an electric potter’s wheel.
Tokoname ware-Production process
1. Knead the soil
Since there are various products in Tokoname
ware, here we will introduce the process of
making Kyusu of red clay.
First of all, we will work on extracting finer clay from the collected clay.
The selected clay is well kneaded and made into a muddy liquid.
2. Mold With A Potter’s Wheel
Kyusu is molded for each part which are the body, lid, handle, and mouth. First, lay the body part down on the potter’s wheel and rotate it.
Use a spatula to smooth the distorted shape little by little.
Once the body is finished, go to the other part and finish it with a potter’s wheel in the same way. Then dry it out being careful not to vary the degree of dryness.
3. Finishing Each Part
When it becomes dry and hard, it is a process to scrape off unnecessary parts and prepare it neatly.
Make fine adjustments so that the fuselage and lid fit perfectly.
How finely finished at this stage before completely dried is the key to a high quality product.
This is the assembly process to attach the mouth and handle to the body.
Using a special tool on the fuselage, make a round hole and join it with other parts. If you don’t apply carefully, it will affect the finished condition, so the skill of the craftsman is required.
Carefully check the dryness and hardness at the time of assembly.
At the drying stage, it will crack or deform if you are not careful. This is an important process before moving to the final process.
Let it dry slowly over time. The degree of drying will change depending on subtle changes such as temperature and humidity, so adjust and dry evenly.
6. Polishing The Substrate
Polishing the substrate is the process of polishing it with a cloth until it becomes glossy.
By repeating the polishing work over and over again, a beautiful luster will finally come out.
This is the process of adding patterns before putting them in the kiln.
This is where the craftsmanship shines, and various carvings are made using a stamp sword.
The dried and carved Kyusu are piled up in the kiln. After stacking, cover and bake at a temperature of about 1,100 degrees for 12 to 18 hours.
In the past, it was necessary to manually adjust the temperature of the kiln in order to maintain a stable temperature, but nowadays it is possible to adjust the temperature by computer control. This temperature adjustment greatly changes its color.
About a day after firing, the kiln is taken out. The Kyusu shrinks to about 80% of the size before firing.
9. Inking And Washing With Water
Finally, the Kyusu is polished again.
In order to clearly express the outline of the pattern carved on the Kyusu, add ink to the carved part.
After washing off the ink, the pattern will come out beautifully.
The final step is grinding.
One of the selling points of Tokoname ware is its high airtightness, so we carefully rub the lid and body together.
As you work one by one, the lid and fuselage are completely paired, so you can see that the different lids are slightly out of alignment. This completes the red clay kyusu.