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JAPANESE TRADITIONAL CRAFTS

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Mashiko Ware

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Unlike other Japanese pottery, the history of Mashiko Ware is rather short, only about 160 years. However, it has a unique development through Mingei (the folk-arts) movement which attribute beauty in the ordinary lives.

Mashiko wares has been produced around Mashiko town in Tochigi prefecture since 1853, when Ohtsuka Keisaburo, who trained himself for the potter, opened his kiln and started his creation.

One of the government official, Mita Yahe, noticed that this is the only kiln in Kanto area at that time, and designated Mashiko wares as the specified pottery to support the creation by Ohtsuka.

Mashiko wares became more famous in Kanto region in Meiji era (1868-1912), when Tohoku railway line started operation. It is because the potters established certain quality under the patronage.

Since the soil is rough and includes plenty of iron, the pottery has rather thick and a bit chubby look with reddish color. Thus, the impression is always warm and natural.

Traditionally, the artisans has created daily kitchen wares such as jars, mortars, lipped bowls, teapots, sake bottles, plates and pots.

Most of them are simple, practical forms with plain look with minimum decoration and modest grazing. This is what Mingei artists loves.

In 1924, later living national treasure potter Hamada Shoji opened his kiln in Mashiko. His creation was vivid, generous tasted, and drawn a lot of attention including a British potter, Bernard Howell Leach. Then Mashiko became the center of Mingei movement.

Currently, Mashiko Pottery Fair is held twice a year and about 500 artisans, and numerous number of fans attend.

Mashiko Ware was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1979.


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