Mino, the southeastern part of Gifu prefecture, has been known as the large production center of pottery. Mostly 60% of pottery wares in Japan produced here.
The pottery production started about 1300 years ago when the Sue wares (earthen vessels) baking method was brought into from the Korean peninsula. Later in Heian period (794-1185), about 10th century, artisans here began glazing them with ash glazes called “Shirashi”. Many kilns were established in this period and Mino grew to be an established place for pottery.
However, its originality was developed in Azuchi Momoyama era (1568-1598), when Mino Momoyama-tou was developed by artisans who created unique forms and patterns for tea ceremony utensils.
Especially, some called Oribe ware which was produced by Furuta Oribe, a samurai served for Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, are still thought to be avant-garde arts. Also, Shino wares, created by Shino Munenobu in Muromachi period (1336-1573), were popular for its slightly reddish white surface with nuance. Unohanagaki, one art of Shino ware, was even designated as a National Treasure.
In Edo period (1603-1867), the kiln style was changed from one large kiln to multi-chambered Noborigama style. In this period, a lot of good Oribe wares were created in addition to popular Shino wares. In the end of Edo period, Mino Ware artisans started to produce ceramic wares, too.
Production method is not so different from other production centers; the forms are made on pottery wheels or by hands, but pattern pressing is also used. After bisque firing, unglazed potteries are covered by special glazing, such as Shino, Oribe, Kizeto and baked again. Some are drawn pictures on the surface by using coloring materials for Japanese paintings.
15 types of Mino wares were designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1978, including Shino, Kizeto, Oribe, Setoguro. They are loved for their light hue and tender atmosphere of the surface. Well balanced patterns are also notable.