Sendai City, Miyagi, Japan
Tsutsumi-yaki Pottery is named after the Tsutsumi-machi area (Aoba-ku, Sendai), which was home to numerous pottery studios.
Although the style was established during the Edo Period as pottery to be presented to the lords of Date Domain, who were very enthusiastic about tea ceremony, Tsutsumi-yaki potters later produced goods for ordinary people such as pots, crocks and dishes. Thus, Tsutsumi-yaki boasts a history of around three and a half centuries.
The rustic features of the pottery are a product of the outstanding coarse local soil, and Namako-yu (‘sea cucumber glaze’: black and white glaze applied dynamically). The father of folk craft, Muneyoshi Yanagi, showed great interest in the Tsutsumi-yaki kiln as a typical private kiln of the Tohoku region, when he visited Tsutsumi-machi during the early Showa Era, highly praising the water jars, among other articles.
Although at the peak time there were 30 pottery studios, the ‘Tsutsumi-yaki Pottery Kenba Kiln’ is the only one that remains. Relocated to Marutazawa (Izumi-ku, Sendai), an area with a rich natural environment, the studio continues to preserve the old traditions and techniques.
Tsutsumi-yaki Pottery Kenba Kiln was opened when its founder—a well-known local master craftsperson—received the name ‘Kenba’ from Kenya Miura (a potter from Edo; also known as Kenzan Ogata VI), who was invited to Sendai.
On this occasion, Kenba was allowed to copy the ‘Kenzan Hisho’ book of secrets. Based on the book, he produced pottery utilizing the local Sendai soil and glazes, as well as by taking advantage of the local climate and culture.
To this day, the time of Kenba IV, the studio has continued to produce pottery using local soil and glazes.
(1) Soil preparation and elutriation
- Unearth clay from Dainohara Clay Strata, then pile it up and leave it.
- Remove clay from the clay pile, soak it in water and process it in a mixer.
- Screen it in order to remove impurities such as tree branches and roots and stones.
- Put it in a water tank, precipitate it and leave it for several months.
- Pour off the water in the tank, put the clay in unglazed crocks and dry it for several days in the shade.
- Put it in a kneading machine, bring it to a storehouse and leave it for over a year.
Small products (tableware, vases, etc.): Mainly formed with a pottery wheel
- Electric wheel: Rotated with a motor
- Kick wheel: Rotated by kicking
- Hand wheel: A bar is put into the hole on the top panel and rotated
Large products (large pots, large jars, etc.): Formed in coils
- Rings are made with clay bars, then twirled and stacked.
- The clay is beaten with a plate, the density of the clay particles is increased and the form is adjusted.
- In addition to the potter, an assistant rotates the wheel.
Pieces that have been through the biscuit firing process are glazed. Ingredients of the typical Namako-yu for Tsutsumi-yaki include:
- Amasa (a kind of natural mineral) from the Nankodai area
- Hayasaka Rock from the Nenoshiroishi area
- Sangamori Rock, Sagigamori Rock
- Rice husk ash
Kenba Hariu IV
Born in Sendai in 1928
Learned pottery from his father Kenba III (aka Ken-o)
1963 onward: Held solo exhibitions in Isetan Department Store in Shinjuku, Tokyo
1969 onward: Held exhibitions of tea ceremony wares in Mitsukoshi Nihonbashi Main Store, Tokyo (7 times)
1973: Received a prize in the Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition
1975: His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince (Prince Hiro at the time) visited the Kenba Kiln and made a tea bowl
1983: Designated by Miyagi Prefecture as a traditional craftwork
1983: Received the Minister of Education’s Award in the Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition
1985: Received the Prime Minister’s Award in the Japan Ceramic Art Exhibition
2000: Recognized by the Minister of Education as an Outstanding Contributor to Regional Culture
2001: Recognized by Sendai City as an Outstanding Contributor to Municipal Administration
2011: Received the Kahoku Cultural Award
Tours of the studio, kiln and exhibition hall are available. Visitors can also buy our products.
Our pottery studio is located adjacent to a camping site amid rich natural surroundings.
We look forward to welcoming you.
Note: Advance bookings are required for workshops.
Open hours: 9:00 – 18:00 (Other times by request)
Exhibition and sales venues are open all year-round. The studio is closed on Sundays and public holidays.
Address: 8-4 Akasaka, Kamiyagari, Izumi-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 981-3121