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.
In all, seven main glazes are in use. In addition to this some 12 different techniques are employed, including herahori in which a modeling tool is used to make a pattern on a formed piece. Then for inka, motifs are created using a stamp after forming in a mold. Using a bamboo or metal skewer, parallel lines, wavy lines, spirals, or a pattern of dots are made on the clay while the surface is still soft for kushime. For mishimade using a technique coming from Korea, a pattern of chrysanthemums is created in a white slip wash on a dark grey ground. Making full use of these techniques, tetsu-e decorations, which have been in use since the Momoyama period (1573-1600), are added in iron. Today, items associated with the tea ceremony and for ikebana are among the main pieces made along with various kinds of dishes to be used at top quality Japanese restaurants and in the home. All are highly praised by specialists as hand made articles of the very best quality.
Azukiya yaki features twelve distinctive techniques including seven kinds of glaze, patterns carved into the clay with a spatula called "hera-hori" or pressed into it with stamps called "inka", lines etched into still-soft clay with bamboo or metal combs to make straight lines, wavy lines, spirals, and perforated lines called "kushime", a technique from Korea where dark gray clay is decorated with white clay slip in a chrysanthemum pattern called "mishimade", and more. These techniques are used freely, and designs are painted on using iron in a technique that has been handed down since the Momoyama era. The handmade luxury items are valued highly by collectors: mainly tea ceremony items, ikebana flower arrangement apparatus, dishes for Japanese fine dining.
How to make
Clay is shaped using a potter’s wheel, slab work, and hand forming. On the potter's wheel, well-kneaded clay is placed on the wheel, and formed by hand while the wheel spins. Since long ago, it has been said that to master hand forming takes three years, while the potter's wheel takes ten years to master. Slab forming is done by slicing a uniform thickness of clay and pressing it into a form (made of wood, clay, or stone) to create the desired shape. Hand forming involves shaping the clay by hand to make a coil or a bag shape to use as the basis for forming a variety of shapes including animals, flower vases, and more.