Pottery is often the craft of choice for farmers during winter, as the nature of the season brings field work to a lull.
Located just fifteen minutes away from d:matcha Kyoto's organic tea fields in Yubune, Wazuka is the Shigaraki area. The kilns in this area considered one of Six Ancient Kilns in Japan. While Shigarakiyaki (pottery) is famous for the tanuki figurines, this area also a long-standing history in local pottery traditions.
The use of Shigariki-yaki in tea ceremonies was normalised after tea master Murata Juko instructed for these items to be used. The natural characteristics of Shigaraki-made teaware poignantly reflected the wabi-sabi aesthetics and principles of sado.
The nature of this clay gives it the signature oatmeal colour of Shigaraki-yaki: a bright warm orange with a hint of red. The minerals found in Shigaraki clay used will also enhance your tea experience with each sip.
Aside from the recognisable reddish-orange hues, the colour variation in other parts of the tea ware is a result of the intricate glazing process. Ceramic glazing or 釉薬 (uwagusuri) is a process in pottery where a layer of glaze is applied to the ceramic before it is fired.
The glaze used in ceramics is typically made of three different components: glass-forming substances, a refractory or stiffening component, and a flux component. Glaze in simpler terms is essentially fine glass particles that mixed with pigments. Each glaze is usually produced by the potters themselves, depending on their preferred artistic approach.
In addition to changing the aesthetics of the ceramic, glazing can also alter the finishing of the ceramic to that of a more matte or textured. Glazing the ceramic also seals the porosity of the earthenware, ensuring that the ceramics are waterproof and can be used for holding liquids. The white strokes in the tea cups pictured above are also an effect of glazing known as "stains". Stains are glazes applied intentionally as decoration.
All of this comes together when the ceramic is finally fired. Depending on the intensity of the fire or the location of the ceramic in the kiln, the colour variation of the ceramic may also be affected. Ceramics with stains are often subject to an additional clear gaze and third firing to bring out the colour of the product and to seal the piece.
We are working together with young potters in Shigaraki to continuously showcase the uniqueness and craftsmanship of the ceramics made in this area.