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JAPANESE TRADITIONAL CRAFTS

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Amakusa Tojiki (ceramic ware)

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Amakusa city mainly consists of Amakusa peninsula placed western Kyushu and belongs to Kumamoto prefecture. It is not only a beautiful sightseeing spot surrounded by ocean, but also is famous for plenty of pottery stone which is called Amakusa Toseki is produced. Amakusa Tojiki is the creation born from this precious stone.

The origin is considered to date back to about 400 years ago. First, the pottery stone was used as whetstone and was exported to other areas. At the beginning of Edo period (1603-1867), people in Amakusa utilized this natural resource and started to produce porcelains and potteries.

The characteristics of Amakusa Toseki; shrinking lesser than others, being able to retain the original form, and containing proper amount of alkali metal, make this stone ideal raw material for pure white porcelain and glazing.

Usually, Amakusa Tojiki is made from this Toseki and soils formed on a pottery wheel. Baking temperature is at 1250 Celsius degrees for pottery and at 1300 Celsius degree for porcelains. Glazing are made from ashes of distylium racemosm, a kind of witch hazel, or cassis, and double glazing method “Akanamako” is the one representing Amakusa pottery. For porcelains, the distinguishing pure and pellucid white is sometimes decorated by cobalt blue.

Currently, 4 major kilns of Amakusa Tojiki are known; Uchida Sarayama Ware, the oldest porcelain kiln in Kyushu, is the name for celadon and white porcelain with blue drawing. Takahama Ware opened in 1762 by Ueda Denemon who was a village headman. Takahama Ware artisans created gorgeous “Some Nishiki De” decollated by multicolor and glazing so that they can export the products to Netherland. Now it is making white porcelains with drawing of stylish designs in cobalt. Maruo Ware began at the end of Edo period, and produced kitchen goods or household wares. Nowadays this kiln create various types of goods in various shapes. Mizuno Daira Ware, famous for its “Namako Yu (double glazing)”, opened in 1765. It is said that Namako Yu was developed by this kiln.

Some of them once experienced discontinuance of production, but each time fans or artisans revived.

Amakusa Tojiki was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 2003.


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