The origins of this ware date back to an earthenware called sueki that was made about 700, during the Nara period (710-794), although the traditional skills, techniques and nomenclature of Akazu Yaki that are still in use today were established during the early years of the Edo period (1600-1868). It was the period slightly prior to this that saw the establishment of glazing techniques that are still in use, namely shino, oribe, kizeto, and ofuke.
Kamakura Carved and Lacquered Ware
When Zen Buddhism was introduced from China during the Kamakura period (1185-1333), many arts and crafts were imported at the same time. Sculptors of Buddhist images and carpenters who built temples and shrines were influenced by examples of carved lacquer ware called tsuishu and tsuikoku that were amongst these Chinese imports.
Echizen Yaki ranks among Japan's six old kilns and therefore has a history dating back many centuries. First fired toward the end of the Heian period (794-1185), upward of 200 old kilns sites have been discovered in the area to date. It was in these massive old kilns that all manner of everyday articles such as pots, jars, mortars, flasks, and jars in which to keep a black tooth dye fashionable at the time were fired.
In Japan, ever since the Jomon and Yayoi periods, people have made thread from fiber derived from plants and trees that grow naturally in the mountains such as Japanese linden, mulberry, elm, wisteria, kudzu, and ramie, and used this thread to weave fabric and make clothing and ornaments for private home use.
The origins of Imari Arita Yaki date back to the end of the 16th century when the Saga clan, which had been involved in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's campaigns in Korea, brought back the potter, Li Sanpei who discovered porcelain stone at Mount Arita Izumi, in northern Kyushu. The porcelain that was subsequently made there was the first to be produced anywhere in Japan and was originally called Imari Yaki, simply because it was shipped through the port of Imari.
Pieces representing the beginnings of Tokoname Yaki were made at the end of the Heian period (794-1185) and it is now counted among Japan's six old kilns. During the Heian period, Kyozuka urns were made in which to put Buddhist sutras before burial in the ground as a way of asking favors of the Buddha. During the Muromachi period (1392-1573), the pottery produced mainly tea bowls and other tea ceremony items as well as ikebana flower vases. Jars appeared in the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868) and normal household tableware started to be produced at the end of the Edo period alongside the prized tea ceremony pieces. Sanitary items such as drain-pipes, wash-hand basin and toilets, tiles and plant pots were added to the list of products in the Meiji period (1868-1912). Undoubtedly the vast range of products available today is the result of being a production center with plentiful supplies of good quality clay to hand, and because of the area's ability to change its line of main products in step with demand down through history.
The Yuki area of Ibaraki Prefecture had been a center for sericulture since ancient times. Based on this, Yuki Tsumugi was woven during slack periods of the farming year and cloth was supplied to the Imperial Court during the Nara period (710-794).
Closely linked with the spread of Buddhism in the area, embroidery was introduced to the province of Kaga from Kyoto in the Muromachi period (1392-1573) and was used for the decoration of such religious trappings as altar cloths and surplice worn by monks.