30 January 2024

Red Flares of Beauty: Unveiling the Charms of the Clay 

Gohonde, characterized by charming red spots and lines reminiscent of autumn leaves or twinkling fireflies, represents a unique pattern emerging after the firing of the pottery. These natural markings, a result of the clay's components interacting with fire, make each piece a unique artifact of beauty and tradition. Primarily seen in tea bowls, this style extends to various ceramics, each narrating a story of craft and serendipity. Exploring gohonde is not just about uncovering a pottery style; it's about delving into a centuries-old narrative that continues to enchant and inspire.


  • The Discovery of Red Flaires
  • Craftsmanship of Gohonde
  • Creativity Today
  • Beauty of Chinese-Style Paintings

The Discovery of Red Flaires 

The origin of gohonde dates back to Japan's Azuchi-Momoyama period  (1573 CE – 1603 CE). In this era, Japanese tea masters started ordering matcha bowls from Korea. These orders occasionally resulted in ceramics featuring accidental red spots. This characteristic has been long revered by tea enthusiasts and pottery connoisseurs for its unique aesthetic and historical significance.

Gohonde pieces extended beyond tea bowls to include a range of ceramics such as pots, plates, and incense burners. The style is distinguished by its grey clay base, overlaid with light grey or white, and marked with red spots due to transformations in the kiln. The prevalence of these red spots inspired poetic comparisons: a profusion of spots was likened to autumn leaves, while sparser spots evoked the image of fireflies.

Craftsmanship of Gohonde

The subtle pinkish spots and lines of gohonde are the result of the clay's components oxidizing during firing. This phenomenon, influenced by various factors like clay composition and glaze, is unpredictable, making each piece unique. These spots do not change over time and are safe for use, adding to the practical appeal of gohonde pottery. These bowls became popular among tea practitioners and were fondly embraced as gohonde tea bowls.

Creativity Today

While gohonde might be less commonly seen today, it represents a cherished aspect of historic pottery aesthetics. Recognizing these patterns as part of a long-standing tradition can deepen appreciation and attachment to these pieces.

A notable example of gohonde in contemporary pottery is seen in Hagi ware of Hagi City of Yamaguchi prefecture. Hagi clay, rich in iron, is treated with a decorative coating and fired in an atmosphere that enhances these characteristic red spots. The result is a gohonde tea bowl, highly prized for its beauty.

In summary, gohonde is more than just a porcelain style; it is a symbol of the historical and cultural journey of Japanese ceramics. Its unique aesthetic, rooted in the interplay of nature and craftsmanship, continues to captivate and inspire, preserving its legacy as a beloved art form in the rich tapestry of Japanese pottery.