20 June 2023

Behind the Works of Tosen Kiln

Take a peek behind the warm and inviting works of Tosen Kiln. Here we will introduce the kiln, its characteristics, and some words from Tetsuya Taniguchi, the fourth president of Tosen Kiln.


  • Introducing Tosen Kiln
  • Artist-Born Pieces
  • A Word from Tetsuya Taniguchi, the Fourth President of Tosen Kiln

Introducing Tosen Kiln

Tosen Kiln was founded in 1868 as a Kiyomizu ware wholesale shop. In June 1944, a production studio was established in Mukomachi, a suburb of Kyoto City, kick-starting the creation and production of Kiyomizu ware– a traditional craft made in the Kyoto area.

Kyo ware and Kiyomizu ware are not defined by any specific style, and pottery techniques from various regions of Japan are used. With a history that has developed along with traditional culture, commonalities that can be found are delicate hand paintings and beautiful modeling styles, resulting in pieces of great elegance and highly pictorial qualities.

Tosen Kiln follows these principles and believes that the essence of Kyo ware can be found in the techniques of artist and master potter, Nonomura Ninsei. The kiln implements Ninsei's steady lathing techniques and lustrous painting styles to create clean lines and warm tones.

Artist-Born Pieces 

A distinctive feature of Tosen Kiln is the use of underglaze enameling. Although the underglaze painting is not as delicate and vivid as the more common overglaze, it provides soft tones and a warmth that can only be realized through the pieces made at Tosen Kiln. All pieces are handmade, using traditional clay and glazes. Tosen Kiln constantly strives to improve their techniques and aims to create pieces that evoke a sense of Kyoto's life and culture.

Paintings are drawn onto stoneware by craftspersons with a background in Japanese painting, studied at the Kyoto University of The Arts. Tosen Kiln fully appreciates the artistry of a painting, no matter what its canvas - be it paper or stoneware. Therefore, it's vital that the craftspersons have an understanding of art, its depth, and are ready to bring originality to their works. According to Taniguchi, the kiln's president, such artistic qualities are more important than having an understanding of painting techniques.

At Tosen Kiln, each motif, such as the popular Wind God and Thunder God series, is handled by one painter. The painting process is meticulous and requires much concentration. Because of this, it's important that craftspersons are able to focus on specific works. Besides their standard items, Tosen Kiln is actively open to creating customized pieces and maintains a close relationship with their clients and consumers.

A Word from Tetsuya Taniguchi, the Fourth President of Tosen Kiln

We, at Musubi Kiln, had the opportunity to sit down with Tetsuya Taniguchi, the fourth president and owner of Tosen Kiln to further understand how the unique charms of Tosen Kiln's stoneware are cultivated. Taniguchi is not solely the owner of the kiln, but also an artist steeped deep in the process of making stoneware at Tosen Kiln.

"During the time of my grandfather and father, the main focus of Tosen Kiln was on product sales, but from my generation, the work became more artisanal. Originally, Tosen Kiln had many craftspersons, but we decided to reduce the number to make the production process more intimate."

Throughout our conversation, it was apparent that Taniguchi's commitment to artistry was more important than any sort of commercial gain. He explained that his hands and close monitoring of the production process were crucial to creating works that speak to the soul.

"I want to continue to make pieces that feel thoughtful, human, and that are worth the cost of our high-quality goods. My wish is that our customers enjoy pottery while being aware of the value of quality pottery and handle it with care for long-term use. There is no need to buy many pieces all at once. If you collect and cherish the things you like one by one, it will naturally lead to an atmosphere and a lifestyle where those precious things come together."

"My predecessors mainly did business with department stores, but I've decided to no longer do business with them as they usually sell on consignment. And matters can get quite complicated. Currently, our main customers are galleries, specialty stores, general merchandise stores, and individuals, mostly in Tokyo with some in Kyoto, who truly see the value in our products."

Taniguchi cherishes the art of Kyo and Kiyomizu ware and is keen on developing his artistic sensibilities through exposure to different art forms. This contributes to keeping the works at Tosen Kiln traditional with a playful modern flair. He is open to design requests from customers and is constantly looking for inspiration.

Pieces crafted at Tosen Kiln are wonderfully detailed and intricate. Their distinct painting style is alluring to both domestic and international customers alike. Getting to know the kiln's background story and having a discussion with Taniguchi only added to Tosen Kilns's charm. We hope that you will become equally enamored with their beautiful works and bring delight and comfort into your home with their gentle and warm hand-painted products.

View Tosen Kiln Collection