Dating back to the end of Heian period (794-1185), Tokoname Ware has so long history as the one of the oldest six kilns. For more than 1000 years, Tokoname Ware was produced in the Chita Peninsula including Tokoname city, Aichi prefecture.
The reason of the tradition has survived so long is the plenty of production of good pottery clay. Containing iron, the pottery became reddish when unglazed and when glazed it has slight warmness on the surface.
When Tokoname Ware production began, the glazed big earthenware pots and jars were loved by people, and then Tokoname Ware became the main production center of this kind.
Later in Muromachi period (1336-1573) and Azuchi-momoyama period (1568-1598), artisans started to create tea utensils and flower vessels since tea culture spread. In Edo period (1603-1867), pots and jars in the first half, and kitchen goods and other daily goods in the later half were also made in addition to tea-related goods.
After Meiji era (1868-1912) started, Tokoname Ware artisans began to produce necessities for infrastructure such as pipes, tiles, and toilet bowls. As a result of the plenty of soils, this variety of production became one of its feature.
Another characteristic comes from the soil, too, that is, very viscid and smooth. The basic form is made by pottery wheel or hand twisting, but the unbaked clay also can be shaved and polished.
Now, Tokoname Ware is known as the largest producer of beckoning cat and there is a regulation encouraging toast with Tokoname Ware sake cups and Sake in Tokoname city. What Tokoname Ware produces has changed since the beginning, but the love for the tradition seems not to change.
Tokoname Ware was designated as Traditional Craft by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) in 1976.