Bizen is one of Japan's six ancient kilns, where pottery
has been produced for over 1000 years. The area in and around Bizen City where the pottery is made is
situated in the Imbe area of Okayama Prefecture.
Descendents of the two original potting families,
Kimura and Kaneshige, still work in the area today, although the work has
changed over the years. Bizen, along with many of Japans most important pottery styles
matured during the Momoyama Period (1568 1715) when the artistic direction
was given by powerful warlords and Zen monks, who were connected with the
Way of Tea i.e. the Tea Ceremony. However, these tea wares lost their
popularity over the years and by the early part of the 20th century very few
Bizen potteries remained and the ware they produced was generally of poor
In the early part of the Showa Period (1926 1989) there was a revival of
Momoyama aesthetics throughout Japan and in Bizen it was Kaneshige Toyo
(1896 1967), who lead the way. Before this time he had been an expert in
the production of ornamental figures that Bizen had become synonymous with
but abandoned this to rediscover and reintroduce the fine tea wares that his
ancestors had produced. Kaneshige was made an Important Intangible Cultural
Property, more commonly known as Living National Treasure in 1956 for these
pioneering efforts. These resulted in a large increase in the number of
potteries in the area, producing a variety of individual wares that like Bizen
ware throughout history is unglazed.
The high quality Bizen clay used for the process
is generally fired for many days in wood-fired kilns and it is an
understanding of the firing process and how different parts of the kiln react
that is of paramount importance.
WORK IN STOCK
Please note that potters names are shown with the family name first as is
usual in Japan.