Kyo Ware and Kiyomizu Ware
"Emblematic Pottery Flourishes in the Old Capital of Japan"
Kyo ware and Kiyomizu ware is one of Kyoto's representative crafts. Its a traditional craft designated by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, named Kyo-yaki or Kiyomizu-yaki in Japanese.
There is no specific style, and all pottery techniques from various regions of Japan are used. Another characteristic of Kyo ware is that all processes, such as pottery wheel turning and painting, are done by hand. With a history that has developed along with traditional culture, Kyo ware is characterized by delicate painting and excellent modeling skills, resulting in ceramics of great elegance and highly pictorial qualities. Kyo ware and Kiyomizu ware were designated as traditional crafts by the Japanese government in 1977 and are very popular for its artistic quality.
Artistry and Design
Famed for their craftsmanship, artisans from all over Japan flocked to Kyoto due to the city's demand for tea ceremony utensils and other items from court nobles and feudal lords. Although lacking the materials required for traditional pottery clay production, these craftspeople used an array of imported ingredients to create unique and individual works of art. This led to a notion that anyone whose work was recognized had made it on their own merit, spurring many potters with confidence to try their luck at Kyoto's flourishing market.
Unlike Bizen and Arita ware which have fixed techniques, Kyo Ware and Kiyomizu Ware have no definitive hallmark. Each craftsman fashions their individual pieces by combining various molding methods such as hand-building, "Rokuro (potter's wheel)," and pouring with decorative touches like tinting, color painting, and rust painting. That is why these types of wares are said to be "without distinctive characteristics." It may appear unlikely that they all came from the same production region given the variety of styles; however there is a shared appreciation of refinement shared in all pieces along with excellent craftsmanship.
Around the time Kyoto was Japan's capital, culture itself was being ushered in by tea masters and court nobles. These people had no liking of mainstream pottery, rather they desired pieces of all shapes and colors not seen elsewhere. As a result various workshops sprang up to provide these unique-shaped vessels in response to their needs. It is because much of this process is done by hand that only a limited amount can be made; making them quite rare finds. The care with which Kyo ware and Kiyomizu ware are crafted is amongst the most appealing aspects as it distinguishes them from its peers.
Variety nurtured by rich culture and history
As the capital of Japan, Kyoto has seen its fair share of history which is mirrored in the ever-changing styles of Kyo ware and Kiyomizu ware potteries. Ranging from luxurious decorative pieces to more simplistic designs with a homey feel, these arts surely enrich the hearts and minds of those who see them. As part of this historic city's rich cultural heritage, we expect both Kyo ware and Kiyomizu ware will continue to be held in high regard for many years to come.