Hagi Ware

The evolution of Hagi ware

By Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

By: Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University in collaboration with Kyoto Women's University

Tea bowl with warikodai shaped foot, Hagi ware (江戸時代初期(17世紀))Original Source: Hagi Uragami Museum

Hagi castle town, Hagi ware by Photo by Shimose NobuoArt Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

The
origins of Hagi ware with the official kiln of the Mōri clan

The history of Hagi ware began when an official kiln for the exclusive use of the Chōshū clan (Hagi clan) was established to utilize the techniques brought to Japan by potters such as Yi Chak-kwang (Japanese: Li Shakkō). These potters came from Korea to work in Japan after the Mōri clan relocated to Hagi in 1604. The kiln was made in the Nakanokura section of Matsumoto village, to the east of Hagi Castle (where the Sakakōrai Zaemon workshop is located today in Hagi´s Chintō district). Hagi Ware would later be called Matsumoto ware (or Matsumoto Hagi) after another official Hagi kiln was established at Fukawa.

Mishima style tea bowl "Shiiba", Hagi ware (天和4年)Original Source: Hagi Uragami Museum

Mishima style tea bowl "Shiiba", Hagi ware (天和4年)Original Source: Hagi Uragami Museum

Saka Kōraizaemon Workshop, Hagi ware by Photo by Shimose NobuoArt Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

The Sakakōrai Zaemon Workshop

At the Sakakōrai Zaemon workshop, one can still sense the solemnity of the former official kiln used during Japan's feudal period.

Processing ceramic clay, Hagi ware by Photo by Shimose NobuoArt Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Fukawa
ware (Fukawa Hagi): the second official kiln

During the first half of the seventeenth century, Yamamura Sakunojō (the son of Yi Chak-kwang, who was also known as Mitsumasa or Shōan) took over the official kiln with his uncle, Saka Kōraizaemon. In 1657, however, he relocated with his son Yamamura Mitsutoshi and students to Sōnose (today´s city of Nagato) in Fukawa, where he established the second official kiln.

Fusō-an Miwa kiln, Hagi ware by Photo by Shimose NobuoArt Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Fusō-an Miwa Kiln

In 1663, two first generation potters, Saeki Hanroku (1630–1682) and Miwa Kyūsetsu (1630–1706), joined the official kiln of Matsumoto run by Saka Sukehachi II (son of Kōraizaemon), which improved the production of the kiln.

Raccoon dog ornament, Hagi ware (江戸時代後期(19世紀)) by Miwa Kiraku VIArt Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Hagi tea ceramics: tanuki (raccoon dog) ornament

Miwa Kyūsetsu I went to Kyoto to study the making of Raku ware Senke tea implements in the early eighteenth century. Following this lead, after the middle of the Edo period, Hagi potters began adapting their pursuit of the plasticity of clay to the trends of tea culture, focusing on the making of tea-related wabi suki wares. This trend continued through the end of the Edo period (1615–1868). Various types of sencha (steeped green tea) implements and other objects were also produced during this period.

Tea bowl "Musashino utsushi", Hagi ware (大正~昭和前期(20世紀前半)) by Sakakura Shinbei XII (1881-1960)Original Source: Hagi Uragami Museum

Hagi tea ceramics: Musashino-utsushi tea bowl

After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, individual and corporate-run potteries further developed along with Japan's modernization. Although a variety of ceramic wares were made with productivity in mind, wabi suki tea pottery that maintained traditional materials and techniques from the former official kilns would become mainstream Hagi ware again in the Taishō period (1912–1926).

Water jar in the form of a braided hat, Hagi ware (昭和48年) by Miwa Kyuwa (Kyusetsu X: 1895-1981) Original Source: Hagi Uragami Museum

Hagi tea ceramics: Fresh water container (mizusashi) in the form of a sedge hat

In the early and mid-Shōwa period (1926–1989), particularly around the Pacific War period, artists were actively creating pottery works that expressed their individual ideas. Such works have since become representative of traditional ceramics.

Tea bowl with hanakanmuri shaped foot "Inochi no kaika", Hagi ware (平成15年) by Miwa Jusetsu (Kyusetsu XI: 1910-2012)Original Source: Hagi Uragami Museum

Hagi tea ceramics: tea bowl named Inochi no kaika (Bloom of Life), with a "floral crown" foot

The historical and artistic value of Hagi ware grew, with Miwa Kyūwa (1895-1981) being designated a Living National Treasure (Holder of Intangible Important Cultural Property) for Hagi Ware in 1970. His younger brother Miwa Jusetsu (Kyūsetsu XI) received the same title in 1983, while Yoshika Taibi was selected as a Person of Cultural Merits in 1990.

Clay used for Hagi wareArt Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Clay used for Hagi ware

The traditional clay used for Hagi ware is soft and airy, which is one of the features of Hagi tea ceramics. The clay is a mixture and blend of three main raw clays (Daidō clay, Mitake clay, and Mishima clay) with the synergetic effect between the clay and the glaze. At times, local clay found near the kilns of Matsumoto or Fukawa is also used for the blending to suit production needs. 

Tea bowl "Kan'un", Hagi ware (江戸時代前期(17世紀))Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Biwa (loquat) glaze

Also called dobai (“earth ash”) or mokubai (“wood ash”) glaze, this glaze allows the beautiful earthy clay color underneath to come through. It is created by turning the ashes of various types of wood (pine, sawtooth oak, oak, Isu wood, etc.) into a solvent. Upon firing with oxidizing flames, the glaze and the clay both become a bright, pale yellow.

Tea bowl "Kan'un", Hagi ware (江戸時代前期(17世紀))Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Tea bowl with Hagi white glaze, Hagi ware (平成7年) by Kaneta Masanao (1953- )Original Source: Hagi Uragami Museum

White Hagi glaze

This is a semi-opaque, cloudy white glaze made by mixing earth ash glaze with straw ash. It is commonly used not only on Hagi ware, but also by potteries in western Japan. Today, the main shade of this glaze is known as Kyūsetsu White which gives a look of thick, fluffy, and warm cotton.

The making of Hagi Ware 1 — Clay filtering (base clay preparation)Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Hagi ware production step 1: Clay filtering

The various ground raw clays are repeatedly mixed inside a basin to make an even base clay.

The making of Hagi Ware 2 — shaping/decorating/biscuit firingArt Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Step 2:  shaping, decorating, biscuit firing

To make Hagi pottery, the kneaded base clay is placed on the potter’s wheel and rotated clockwise. Once shaped, the basic piece is allowed to dry in the shade for two to three days before finishing touches are made, such as cutting out the foot. After this, slip or brush patterns are applied and the vessel is left to dry before being biscuit fired in temperatures between 700 and 800˚C for 15 to 18 hours.

The making of Hagi Ware 3 — glazing and stacking in kilnArt Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Step 3: glazing and stacking the kiln

The biscuit-fired piece is glazed and stacked inside the kiln. Traditional Hagi ware kilns are multi-chambered climbing kilns built onto the slopes of mountains, a method introduced to Japan from Korea. The firing area consists of three to five connected chambers.

The making of Hagi Ware 4 — kiln firing (main firing) and removal from kilnArt Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Step 4: firing and removal from kiln

The amount of time for the primary firing inside the kiln depends on the scale of the kiln  and how many chambers it has. Pieces are first fired inside the firing chamber for at least 15 hours, but may require a further 30 hours of firing if there are five chambers in the kiln. The firing temperature, between 1,260°C and 1,280°C, is maintained by feeding the kiln with pine wood fuel. After firing, the firing chamber is sealed tight. The fired pieces are removed from the kiln after having cooled for between twenty-four hours and five days.

Hanakanmuri shaped foot, Tea bowl "Inochi no kaika", Hagi ware (平成15年) by Miwa Jusetsu (Kyusetsu XI: 1910-2012)Original Source: Hagi Uragami Museum

Tea bowl named Inochi no kaika (Bloom of Life), with a "floral crown" foot

The foot of this tea bowl resembles a flower with four heart-shaped petals. It is a unique design developed by Miwa Jusetsu (Kyūsetsu XI, 1910–2012) created by further expanding on the revival Momoyama-style cut base. In this sense, the 400 year Hagi ware tradition has cultivated the boldness to engage in revolutionary creativity.

Credits: Story

Information provided by Hagi Uragami Museum

Text written by Ishizaki Yasuyuki, Hagi Uragami Museum

Photography by Shimose Nobuo

Supported by Tamamura Shinichi and Morino Akito, Archival Research Center, Kyoto City University of Arts

Exhibition created by Maezaki Shinya, Kyoto Women's University

English translation by Eddy Y. L. Chang

Edited by Melissa M. Rinne, Kyoto National Museum

Directed by Maezaki Shinya, Kyoto Women's University

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Google apps