Japanese Bizen Pottery is unglazed pottery wares made in Bizen city (Okayama prefecture) are called Bizen ware. Japanese Bizen Pottery is also called Inbe ware, too, since Inbe area in Bizen city is the center of the production.
Being counted as one of the oldest 6 pottery kilns in Japan, the tradition dates back to 1,000 years ago (late Heian era), but the origin, Sueki, old earthen vessels were imported from Korean peninsula in Kofun period (the period of ancient burial mounds, 3rd to 7th century).
The most distinguished character of Japanese Bizen Pottery is that they are unglazed. Using closely screened iron containing soil, they are carefully formed and baked at a very high temperature such as 1,200 to 1,300 degrees Celsius for 2 weeks.
The color is mostly dark reddish-brown for the iron, but the nature of the soil, places in the kiln, changes of the temperature, and the ashes and charcoals give the pottery great variety of appearances, such as in color and texture of surface.
They do not have colorful decoration, however, just like there is no one being same as another, each Bizen ware has its own uniqueness. This is why Bizen wares are popular among tea culture which admire the taste for the simple and quiet.
Thanks to the high temperature and long terms of baking, Bizen wares are very hard and people say they are unbroken even when they are thrown away. Therefore, rather big wares such as earthenware mortars, pots, and jars have been made.
Since they have minute holes which give permeability, when they are used as vessels for Japanese flower arrangement flowers become long-lasting, and when they are used as beer jugs the froth on beer become very smooth.
Bizen ware was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1982.