"The Art of the Clay and Fire"
Bizen Ware is a traditional stoneware produced in the Imbe area of Okayama Prefecture. It is one of the oldest ceramics in Japan, and is made using the “Yakishime" technique, in which pieces are fired at high temperatures without glaze to make them durable and water-resistant.
Bizen Ware is called "the art of clay and fire" for the exquisite colors and patterns produced by the kiln's flames, and is characterized by its minimalist, "wabi-sabi" design.
Charm of Bizen Ware
Bizen Ware is a special type of Japanese stoneware that continues to this day. The reason for this is a technique called "Yakishime," in which pieces are fired at high temperatures without glaze to add water resistance and durability. Bizen ware has been used to make jars, mortars, and other household items since around the Muromachi period (1333-1573), and it is said that "Bizen mortars are so durable that they will not break even if thrown," a saying that has come to be valued throughout Japan. In addition, the clay is well-fired and sturdy, and has sufficient water resistance without glazing.
In addition, Bizen Ware has minute pores that allow a little air to pass through, so when sake, whiskey, or wine is placed in a Bizen Ware jar, it is said to become more aromatic, mellow, and full-flavored. It is also said that this air permeability keeps water fresh, thus prolonging the life of flower arrangements.
Moreover, the charm of Bizen Ware can be found most notably in its appearance. Bizen Ware has a pattern called "Yohen", which is created by the flames of a traditional wood-fired kiln, and this is the reason why Bizen Ware has the nickname "The Art of the Clay and Fire”, and is a supreme craft created by the knowledge and skill of Bizen ceramic artists with regard to the flames of the kiln.
Characteristics Pattern of "Yohen"
“Yohen" is a pattern formed when ash and straw around a piece of ceramics fired in a wood-fired kiln, such as a climbing kiln, are affected by the heat from the flames. Yohen in Bizen Ware is not an accidental pattern, but is created by the intention of the ceramic artist who knows the flow of the flames in the kiln, which is why Bizen Ware is called "the art of clay and fire".
There are also various types of pattern and names for Yohen of Bizen Ware, such as Goma, Sangiri, Hidasuki, Botamochi.
This pattern is called Goma, because the pine wood used to fire the kiln turns to ash, which adheres to the work and gives it a pattern that looks like a sprinkling of sesame (=Goma) seeds.
The "San" in Sangiri refers to the wall inside the kiln. The work placed on the side of the wall where ash tends to accumulate is covered with ash from the pine wood, and the part of the work not directly exposed to the fire reacts with the ash, turning it grayish brown or blackish brown.
This pattern is made when the work is wrapped in straw and placed in a kiln with a cover called a Saya, and fired in a place away from direct heat, it becomes light brown in color throughout and scarlet in the areas where the straw is wrapped. It is very popular because of the contrast between those vivid colors.
In order to prevent the works from sticking together, rounded pieces of refractory clay or small pieces are placed in between, which results in uneven firing, and the relevant areas turn lighter. The rounded shape looks like a Japanese sweets called botamochi, hence the name.
Bizen Ware is said to be "the art of clay and fire," and the best way to appreciate the beauty of the patterns that seem to reflect the kiln fire is to hold an item such as a cup in your hand. Bizen Ware is attractive when paired with food and beverages, but it can also be appreciated and enjoyed carefully on its own, like a piece of art. It is also said to enhance the taste of the sake or wine, so it would make a great gift for those who love to drink.
Hozan Kiln is run by the Mori family, traditional craftsmen of Bizen Ware. Combining the beauty of tradition with modern life, they offer the richness of incorporating artistic Bizen Ware into daily life.View Hozan Kiln Products