The Six Ancient kilns of Japan is a general name given to the six major sites of ceramic production since the Kamakura era(1185-1333). Bizen pottery, one of the six ancient kiln sites, has been produced for over 1000 years. Many potting centers have lost the dynamism that reached a peak in the Momoyama era(1568-1615), yet Bizen is still a thriving ceramic center located in Okayama Prefecture.
Bizen City clay is dug up from rice fields and this iron rich clay is what gives most Bizen ware its dark colors, though, a few potters prefer to use lighter mountain clay. After being processed and shaped by the potter, the wares are fired in a NOBORIGAMA (climbing kiln) or ANAGAMA (tunnel kiln) for about two weeks using only red pine wood for fuel.
Basically, there are four main types of Bizen ware : GOMA, HIDASUKI, SANGIRI, and YOHEN. GOMA drives its name from the brownish coloring (the result of red pine ash melting on the pots) which resembles sesame seed paste. HIDASUKI results when pots are wrapped in straw and after it burns off, red markings are left. SANGIRI is produced when charcoal falls on pieces after it is introduced during the latter stages of the kiln firing. YOHEN refers to the affect of abundance of ash cover creating a variety of colors, also known as a kiln ‘mutation’.
The subdued beauty and elegant simplicity of Bizen ware has endeared it to pottery lovers around the world. It represents to many a spiritual world of Japan that is quickly disappearing under the onslaught of technology and multinational companies. Bizen pottery becomes even more important in these times because it offers a refuge, a timeless sanctuary that soothes the soul and refreshes the spirit. For its pure aesthetic beauty it is often displayed as a work of art simply to be gazed upon and enjoyed. However, true appreciation of its value will only be understood through use.
written author, by Robert Lee Yellin the of”YAKIMONO SANKA”
Bizen Gallery Aoyama hopes that you will enjoy the unpretentious world of Bizen pottery in your daily life.
Let’s find about the kiln with the help of two potters(Takushi Takahara &Yoshiteru Takariki). Panorama of the kiln This is Mr. Takahara’s “Noborigama”. Now, the fire is burning. At the back, there’s a lot of firewood. This is the very firstburning of the new year . “Omiki” (sake offered to theshrine) seemes to be enshrined.
Now, before putting the fire in, let’s look at how the works are placed inside the kiln. They are placed without any waste of space. According to where the works are put, the current of flame changes, and that can cause a disaster. Large pottery are usually near the top, and some works are rolled at the ground.The white part is Mr. Takahara’s secret. The keyword here is”Korogashi” (rolling). This is how “Youhen” is created; the relish of Bizenpottery.
Now, what’s it like inside the kiln? 600 degrees. It is very rare to see the kiln actually being burnt. This is about the medium temperature. It is said that “Bizen is a creation only by clay and flame”, and this is the power of the flame. The firewood burns and eventually turn to ashes, that makes a unique pattern.
900 degrees.This temperature can almost melt this digital camera. You can tell the heat is spread inside the kiln.
Before looking at 1200 degrees, we will check what it’s like right before taking out the works from the kiln.You can see many “Goma works”Depending on where the works are placed, this much difference can be seen in the patterns. Here is “Goma” place! After this, all the works will be polished, and with flower vases they will be checkd for it won’t leak.
One way to enjoy Bizen is to guess where the work was placed inside the kiln, and from which direction it was fired. So, it is very difficult to control the patterns of Bizen pottery, and very little “Youhen” can be created in one fireing. However, this is what makes this art so interesting.
What a lot of firewood! One set of firewood consists of five woods. (10cm in diameter, 1m in length for one firewood). In 10 days, they uses 1000 sets! By putting in 100 firewood.
Planet Pottery You can see image pictures of various Bizen next.
You can purchase works from the Gallery.