Bowls, cups, plates, teapots, vases, etc. Ceramic ware indispensable for daily life
Bowls, cups, plates, teapots, vases, etc.
"There is not a day when you don't see it or use it." It is no exaggeration to say that ceramics are an indispensable part of our daily lives.
Today, mass production techniques have advanced, and affordable, good quality ceramics are readily available.
However, there are, of course, some ceramics that are carefully crafted by artisans using traditional techniques and taking their time to make each piece.
In this article, we will explain the difference between pottery and porcelain, focusing on ceramics, which are designated as traditional crafts.
Difference between "pottery" and "porcelain" and their origin
Ceramics in Japan is the generic term for both "pottery," which is made mainly from clay with a sticky consistency, and "porcelain," which is made mainly from crushed stone powder. For example, Mashiko ware and Karatsu ware are classified as pottery, and Arita ware and Kutani ware are classified as porcelain.
In addition to raw materials, pottery and porcelain differ in firing temperatures and finished characteristics.
Pottery are thick and heavy, opaque, soft and hard, and have a rustic texture. Porcelain is thin, light, translucent, hard, and gives a sophisticated impression.
The photos below show the pieces we carry at Takumi Japan, with the pottery on the left and the porcelain on the right. You can see that the atmosphere and texture are completely different.
Left：Mug, Coloring with Mud, Brown - Shigeo Sudo, Kasama ware
Right：Mug, Vegetable, Large - Imaemon-Kiln, Arita ware
◆ Comparison of pottery and porcelain
|Feeling of transparency
|Not transparent to light
|Show through to light
No water absorption
The main raw material is ceramic clay, but Shigaraki ware, Bizen ware, and Tokoname ware, which are fired at temperatures somewhere between ceramic and porcelain, have characteristics intermediate between the two and are sometimes called "stoneware", "semi-porcelain", or "yakishime".
The photos below show stoneware pieces we carry at Takumi Japan. It has a different appearance than Kasama ware and Arita ware.
Left：Kyusu teapot, Vermilion clay, Diagonal line, Rokkasen, No.14 - Reiko, Tokoname ware
Right：Pair of beer tumbler - Gorobee-kiln, Bizen ware
Some production areas, such as Seto ware and Aizu Hongo ware, produce both pottery and porcelain.
Seto ware is the general term for ceramics produced in the Seto area (Seto City and surrounding areas) in Aichi Prefecture.
The Seto area has produced a wide variety of ceramics since ancient times, of which "Akatsu ware" is pottery and designated as traditionally created craft of Japan, and "Seto under glazed ware" is porcelain.
The origin of Japanese ceramics and traditionally created crafts
It was around the 5th century that pottery as we know it today began to be made in Japan.
The use of potter's wheels and kilns for pottery making was introduced from Korea, and developed along with the use of glazes and the popularity of the tea ceremony culture.
On the other hand, porcelain began to be made in the Edo period (from 1603). It has a short history compared to pottery.
Incidentally, the birth of stoneware is between pottery and porcelain.
As of November 2022, 32 items of "ceramics" have been designated as traditional crafts by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
To qualify for designation, an item must meet five conditions, including that it is made from raw materials that have been used traditionally.
For more information about traditionally created crafts, please refer to this article to learn a little more about▼
As of November 2022, ceramics designated as traditionally crafted crafts are as follows.
◆Ceramics designated as traditionally crafted crafts
|Obori soma ware／Aizuhongo ware
|Tokoname ware／Akazu ware／Seto underglazed ware／Sanshu onigawara crafts
|Yokkaichi Banko ware / Iga ware
|Tamba Tachikui ware / Izushi ware
|Koishiwara ware / Agano ware
|Mikawachi ware / Hasami ware
|Imari/Arita ware / Karatsu ware
|Shodai ware／Amakusa ware
At present, the most common is Aichi Prefecture. The northernmost is "Ohori Soma ware" in Fukushima Prefecture, and the southernmost is "Tsuboya ware" in Okinawa Prefecture.
As of October 2023, Takumi Japan handles about 1/3 of these items.
Even though they are not designated as traditionally created crafts, there are many other types of ceramics and porcelain produced throughout Japan that carry on the tradition, such as Narauka ware in Akita Prefecture and Uchinohara ware in Kochi Prefecture, in addition to the above.
Enriching daily life with ceramics
Pottery and porcelain have different characteristics and charms.
Choosing one that harmonizes not only with your tastes, but also with your other possessions, uses, and scenes will surely make your daily life more pleasant and richer.
Among them, we recommend traditional ceramics and porcelain, which are made by combining the thoughts and techniques of artists and inheriting their traditions!
Ceramic fairs are held in production areas and exhibitions and sales in department stores and galleries are also held in various places. If you are a ceramics lover, please check the information and come out to these events.
You might even meet some of your favorite artists!
▼Takumi Japan Official Website