Highly Skilled Anagama Firing

Utilizing the long-term Anagama kiln firing technique for 8 to 10 days showcases a unique craftsmanship. In modern times, many artists consider convenience and cost, resorting to electric or gas kilns for pottery firing. Only a few artists in the Shigaraki area practice the traditional Anagama or noborigama (climbing kiln) firing methods.

The Anagama is built into the slope of a hill, with a ceiling made from materials like clay. It can fire pottery at high temperatures ranging from 1000 to 1300 degrees Celsius.

While most artists fire their pottery over 3 to 4 days, Mr. Saeki diligently fires his pieces for an extended period of 8 to 10 days. Despite the considerable time and cost in terms of firewood, Saeki emphasizes that the extended firing period enhances the depth of color and patterns in his work.

Each March, Mr. Saeki fires hundreds of pieces in the Anagama kiln. He learned the Anagama firing technique during his training period in Shigaraki.

Saeki underscores the importance of experience in Anagama firing, acknowledging that each firing result can vary significantly. Controlling every aspect such as temperature and oxygen conditions within the kiln is challenging. However, with accumulated experience, it becomes possible to anticipate some changes within the kiln.


15,000 logs of Japanese red pine

n the Anagama firing process, approximately 15,000 logs of firewood are used at once. All the firewood used by Saeki is sourced from Japanese red pine. While red pine is relatively costly, it contains high oil content, enabling the kiln temperature to be elevated effectively. Additionally, since most of it burns completely, generating substantial ash, Saeki and others take shifts to monitor the fire without sleeping.

Around 30% of the pottery produced in the kiln is usable, while the rest might get damaged or develop imperfections, rendering them unsuitable for sale.



 A Diverse Palette - The Fascinating Variability of Colors and Patterns Originating from the Same Clay

Relation Between Kiln Position and Hue

The positioning of pottery in the kiln influences the colors and patterns of the resulting pieces. Areas within the kiln with more oxygen develop the distinct Shigaraki red hue (scarlet), while places with less oxygen and covered in ash tend to appear white.

Natural Glazing - Beautiful Hues Born from Ash

One of the merits of firing pottery in an Anagama kiln is the natural glazing effect achieved through ash (known as natural glaze). As red pine burns inside the kiln, the resulting ash settles on the pottery, imbuing it with color. These ash-covered sections create various expressions, sometimes appearing white, at times gray, among other hues.

Predicting where the ash might settle within the kiln is possible, but controlling precisely how the ash will land on the pottery is beyond human manipulation. It's these serendipitous chemical reactions within the kiln that grant each piece of pottery its distinctive individuality.

Rapid Cooling (Withdrawal)

Some pieces utilize a technique called "withdrawal."

During firing, certain pieces are removed from the kiln around the eighth day, for instance, and rapidly cooled. This rapid cooling results in a bluish transformation of the glassy parts of the pottery.