The most famous object in Shigaraki ware is, a raccoon dog with a straw lampshade hat, a stick, and a sake bottle.
Shigaraki Raccoon dog became such popular goods in Meiji era (1868-1912), but the art has been developed since the medieval period in Shigaraki town in Shiga prefecture.
The origin, is even older, is said that the Emperor Shomu had artisans bake tiles for Shigarakinomiya, an Imperial villa, in 742.
Now Shigaraki Ware is counted as one of the 6 oldest kilns in Japan.
One reason is that there are plenty of Japanese red pine trees for firewood. However, the biggest reason of this thriving is the soil produced in the area.
The soil contains iron which makes the baked ware reddish, and also microscopic quartz and feldspar. Those tiny but shiny metals appear on the surface and make the feel rough and noisy, which are the characters of tea artist love.
Another merit of Shigaraki Ware is the toughness which allows us to create large objects such as big water pot.
In Kamakura period, such pot called “Tanetsubo”, thought to be containing seed, and later in Muromachi and Azuchimomoyama period it became one of the favorable pottery in tea ceremonies.
Currently, Shigaraki Ware is adopted to not only raccoon dog object, but also to vessels, food containers, and tiles making most use of the taste of the soil.
Shigaraki Ware was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1975.