Echizen ware

Echizen Pottery
Industry Cooperative

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Echizen ware



What is Echizen ware?

Echizen ware dates back to the late Heian period, approximately 850 years ago.

At that time, the potteries produced mostly items for everyday use, such as jars for water or grain, or mortars.

As the area is close to Echizen seashore, the products were delivered by Kitamae ships as far as Hokkaido in the north and Shimane prefecture in the south. Echizen developed as the biggest pottery producing district in Hokuriku.

For a period of time, the demand for Echizen-yaki declined due to the gradual modernization of Japan, the increasing availability of piped water in the home, and the growing popularity of porcelain china.

After that, Echizen-yaki was revitalized thanks to the research of the local scholar Kyuuemon Mizuno and Japanese ceramic expert Fujio Koyama.

In 1948, Fujio Koyama designated Echizen-yaki as one of the "Six Ancient Kilns of Japan" and Echizen ware became famous countrywide.

It was decided in a Prefectural Pottery Development Promotion Association meeting in May 1965 that pottery from potteries in Fukui Prefecture should become known as "Echizen ware".

(according to Fukui Prefecture pottery magazine)

In 1971, Echizen Pottery Village was built. In 1986, Echizen ware was designated as a national traditional craft.

In April 2017, the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan were designated as Japan Heritage and the information was transmitted throughout Japan and overseas.

Kyuuemon Mizuno

Kyuuemon Mizuno

Potter’s clay

Echizen ware was born because sticky potter’s clay with a high iron content was found in Echizen-cho (former Miyazaki Village, Ota-cho), Nyu-gun, Fukui Prefecture.

This can be seen in one of the kanji characters in the name "Nyu-gun" which, in fact, has the meaning of reddish soil.

After good quality clay was found, groups of potters gathered there to make dishes. Kilns were made there to fire the products.

After the clay was used up, the potters moved to look for new clay of good quality. The remains of more than 200 potteries have been found near the pottery village.

The Association continues to use Echizen potter’s clay. The clay collected in Echizen-cho is refined in a plant belonging to the association and is distributed to the potteries.

The clay in Echizen contains much iron and the plain finish is one of the characteristics of Echizen ware. Its main appeal is its warm, rustic texture.

Designation as Japan Heritage

Japan Heritage Recognition

Echizen ware was designated as Japan Heritage as one of the Six Ancient Kilns of Japan.

Around 1948, the "Six Ancient Kilns of Japan" (Echizen-yaki) was named by the ceramics pottery researcher Fujio Koyama. It was designated as "Japan Heritage" in 2017.

What are the "Six Ancient Kilns of Japan"?

The "Six Ancient Kilns of Japan"is the name to the six potteries (Echizen, Seto, Tokoname, Shigaraki, Tanba, and Bizen) that have continued manufacturing since the Middle Ages.

The Six Ancient Kilns of Japan were identified and named by the ceramics researcher, Fujio Koyama in 1948. They were designated as Japan Heritage in spring 2017.

On that occasion, six cities launched "Six Ancient Kilns Japan Heritage Utilization Association".

The Association examines the technology and culture that was developed over a thousand years of pottery production at each site, and delves into the beauty and charm of the Six Ancient Kilns.



*6 cities and towns…

Echizen ware:Echizen-cho, Fukui 
Seto ware:Seto City, Aichi 
Tokoname ware:Tokoname City, Aichi

Shigaraki ware:Koka City, Shiga 
Tanba ware:Tamba Sasayama City, Hyogo 
Bizen ware:Bizen City, Okayama

Six Ancient Kilns of Japan,
Echizen ware with natural glaze,
Nejitate forming

Echizen Ware, natural glazed jar
Echizen pottery applies the skills of Tokoname pottery

Echizen pottery applies the skills of Tokoname pottery. At the end of the Heian period, natural-glazed Echizen-yaki was developed in Echizen town (formery. Miyazaki. Village) Nyu-gun, Fukui Prefecture, and everyday pottery such as pots, jars, and mortars were manufactured there.

Echizen ware pots have rounded shoulders. The surface is hard with luster. Echizen-yaki from the Muromachi period is characterized by its solidity.

The technology of Nejitate forming

The technology of Nejitate forming of Echizen ware pottery has been in use since the Kamakura period.

Large pieces formed using Nejitate technology undulate gently as they are constructed.

The surface is made slightly rough and the hand-made touch of coiling is used effectively.

Designation as traditional craft

Traditional Crafts

Various types of Echizen ware tableware

Traditional crafts in Japan are designated by the Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry based on the Act concerning the Promotion of the Traditional Craft Industries (Act No. 57 in 1974).