The soil is extracted from the bottom of Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan. It has excellent fire resistance and molds all kinds of products with warm colors.
Another characteristic of the design is the high degree of freedom, not only in shaving and marking the ceramics, but also in harmonizing with nature by using tree leaves and other materials.
This is a process that requires concentration, as machining is not just to improve the appearance, but to reduce weight to the utmost limit.
While only electric kilns can be used in the city, the kiln is located in the suburbs and is fired using a climbing kiln. The appearance of the kiln is breathtaking, and the kiln is kept under watch during firing.
Characteristics of Shigaraki-Ware
The raccoon dog is familiar to Japanese people and is known as an animal that brings good luck to us. In Shigaraki ware, the raccoon dog figurines are the iconic piece. Many people place a large raccoon dog figurine in front of their houses as it is meant to bring business prosperity and monetary fortune. The Japanese word “raccoon dog” has the meaning of “overtaking others” which is making it an indispensable item for businesspeople. Furthermore, Shigaraki ware has a wide range of items other than raccoon dog figurines. One of the amazing characteristics of Shigaraki ware is the diversity of shapes which is created by firing coarse, highly plastic clay at high temperatures. Another important characteristic is that when they are fired in a kiln, the original white color of Shigaraki ware turns reddish brown or pink, giving it earthen tones.
Shigaraki Ware has its origin in Tiles???
The six kilns located in Shigaraki, Seto, Echizen, Bizen, Tokoname and Tamba are known as the “Six Oldest Kilns of Japan” and have existed since the hunting and gathering era. Shigaraki ware, which has inherited such a traditional Japanese technique, is said to have been created during the Nara period (729-749). Emperor Shomu of the Nara period built the present-day Shigaraki-town in Shiga Prefecture, as “Shigaraki-no-miya” (Shrine of Shigaraki). The origin of Shigaraki ware date back to the production of roof tiles used in the buildings of the capital. After this, various kind of crafts were developed in each period, such as “tea bowls” in the Muromachi period (1336-1573), “earthen pots” in the Edo period (1603-1868), and “brazier” in the Meiji period (1868-1912). Following this creation of Shigaraki wares, they held an 80% share of the domestic market in Japan until the early 1960s. Due to this popularity of the Shigaraki ware, it was designated as a traditional craft by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry in 1976.
Shigaraki Ware Nowadays
In recent years, Shigaraki Ware has started not only selling essential items for daily life, but also creating new ceramics designed with creative ideas and utilizing the unique characteristic of Shigaraki Ware. The reason why the Shigaraki ware became famous all over Japan is the morning drama series in 2019. The drama was set in Koka City, Shiga Prefecture and it was about the life of a female potter in 1960s who creates Shigaraki ware. It drew a great deal of attention not only to the Shigaraki area, but also to Shigaraki pottery itself, and created a lot of excitement throughout the city.
In addition to this, a coffee chain in Koka City offers a service in which customers can drink coffee with Shigaraki ware mugs, which were created by exchanging opinions together with craftsmen. The mugs are designed to taste the amazing flavor of the coffee, and the service has become very popular among all ages since the mug makes the coffee more flavorful and special.
The handiwork of Japanese craftsmen who continue to preserve the traditions that have been handed down for 1,000 years still produces Shigaraki ware today. You will surely find the charm of Shigaraki ware when you pick it up and use it.