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.
Glazes as such are not used to create a very appealing surface texture, which relies in the main on accidental effects during firing such as from wood-ash and iron. No attempt is made to decorate pieces but they have a beauty of their own appropriate to an everyday ware retaining a warmth of the clay from which it is fashioned. Sake cups and flasks, flower vases, tea cups and pots as well as a wide range of everyday pieces of pottery are still being made by the craftsmen,who have the responsibility of sustaining this most ancient of pottery crafts.
This pottery has the rustic feel characteristic of glaze-less bisque-firing, kaiyu (ash glazing) and tetsuyu (iron glazing). The pots possess the no-frills beauty of objects to be used for daily living and the warmth of the clay they are baked in.
How to make
Potteries are made by molding into shape a special clay for pottery made from three main kinds of clays, aoneba, akabeto and taiko tsuchi, dug from the bottom of local rice fields. Echizen pottery’s distinctive molding method, a coiling technique called “nejitate,” has been handed down through the centuries and is still used today. The molded clay is then placed in a kiln at a temperature of 1,200 to 1,300 degrees and baked.