Japan has a history of “pottery” for over 10,000 years. There is an almost endless variety of forms and styles, which can be confusing until you realize that each evolved individually in different parts of Japan.
Generally, they are classified into “ceramic” made from soil and “porcelain” made from stone. And in Japan, there are major 32 production areas.
In 2013, “Japanese food: Japanese traditional food culture” was registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.
Japanese say that they eat with their eyes. That said, tableware plays an important role to add extra deliciousness to the foods.
What is the difference between Western tableware and Japanese tableware?
The major differences are whether to use them in your hand and the materials.
Unlike Western dishes which people share on a platter, Japanese dishes are individually served. Thus, Japanese tableware is designed for people to hold them to eat, which makes Japanese tableware lighter in weight and smaller in size.
Also, Japanese tableware is made of ceramics and some are made from local woods. On the contrary, Western tableware is made of porcelain.
Ceramic uses clay as a raw material, and porcelain uses stone powder called porcelain stone. Because Japanese tableware is held in the hand, many are made of ceramics which you can feel the warmth of local soils.
Also, people use a knife and a fork in Western dishes, so porcelain is used for tableware to avoid scratch from metal cutleries.
Development of Japanese pottery
They say that Japanese pottery has started in the Jomon era, which is known as Jomon doki (Jomon style earthenware).
In the 5th century, the techniques of ceramic makings were introduced from Korea, and glazing techniques was followed from ancient China in the 7th century.
From the Muromachi period to the Azuchi-Momoyama period (time), the unique culture of pottery flourished with the fashion of “Chanoyu“, Japanese tea ceremony.
Many tea pottery masterpieces were made during this period and have been handed down to the present day. Ceramics have played an essential role in shaping the Japanese cultures, such as tea ceremony and ikebana flower arrangement.
At the end of the 16th century, potters brought from the Korean Peninsula introduced. Thus, the production capabilities improved dramatically.
As a result, pottery has become a top exporting industry and elegant graceful coloured porcelain was exported to Europe, which the royal aristocracy at the time loved in the mid-17th century.
Simply Native tableware collections
Every pottery has its own unique history and development. Here, we are introducing Simple Native’s tableware collections that we present with confidence through meetings with craftsmen.
In Japan, pottery has continued to exist in daily life as an entity that expresses artistry and spirituality, not just a practical container. Learn more about their backgrounds and find your favourite!
Made in Aichi, one of the most commonly used at households in Japan. Mino-ware has a long history and dates back to more than 1300 years ago.
At first, the technique was transmitted from the Korean Peninsula. In the Heian period (10th century), pottery with ash glaze came to be made. Along with the fashion of the tea ceremony, many renown tea wares were produced that reflected the taste of tea masters.
Many tableware is produced as daily necessities, and those made of mold has a good reputation.
Bizen-ware is hand made in Okayama, Japan and it popular for its “matches anything” colour and its simplicity.
Made from the clay of 1.5 million years old when the earliest humans walked on modern feet, a scientist’s experiment led to the discovery that Bizen-ware blocks 90% of far infrared rays, keeping water fresh.
From the beginning, tea people loved its earthy wabi-sabi textures and many tea bowls and flower vases have been made on commission from tea masters.
Established techniques have been passed down in 5 renown families, they were received the honour of the human national treasures of Japan. Bizen-ware is not suitable for using metal cutlery because it is not glazed.
Ohori soma ware
The unique characteristics of Ohori Soma ware is it has deeply rooted with samurai warriors. The production started in Fukushima in the early Edo period (1690).
The Soma domain was ruled by renown Samurai at the time and pottery was encouraged to gain income from outside of domain. Ohori Soma ware production then made it the largest production centre in the Tohoku region, with more than 100 kilns lined up.
In the Meiji era (1862-1912), the number of producers gradually decreased as they switched to other jobs, and now 24 potters continue to make pottery in the original domain.
These potters are committed to creating new products for the 21st century while adhering to the tradition of 300 years.
Its beginning dates back to the Heian era (794-1185), with the establishment of Heian–kyo (Central government in Kyoto) and Kyoto-ware has developed along with the court nobles. Since then, Kyoto has produced excellent potters and masterpieces one after another.
In the Meiji era, with the invitation of German craftsman Wagner, techniques from other countries were introduced, and Kyoto-ware developed steadily.