Kasama Ware

By Kyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory

Kyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory

Tea jar with green and white glaze, Kasama Ware (19世紀末~20世紀初頭)Original Source: Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum


Kasama ware reflects the area of Kasama in Ibaraki Prefecture, mainly in the form of simple, daily vessels like pots, jars, and sake bottles with the characteristic nagashi-kake technique (pouring black glaze over kaki-yu (persimmon-coloured glaze) or copper blue glaze over nukajiro-yu (bran-white glaze)) applied. Kasama vessels were typically used to store sake, soy sauce, tea leaves, grains and other foodstuff.

Kasama ware clayKyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory


The production area of Kasama ware (designated National Traditional Craft in 1992) spans a wide area from the center to the west of Ibraki Prefecture, including Mito. The clay used to make Kasama ware contains a large amount of iron, allowing the vessels to turn a reddish brown or orange colour after being fired.

Cross section of Kasama wareKyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory

Jar with kaki and black glaze, Kasama ware (明治時代・19世紀)Kyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory

The glazes

The kaki-yu glaze (dark reddish colour) and black glaze are typically used to adorn Kasama ware. Black glaze is poured or splashed over the reddish glaze to bring out a beautiful and sharp contrast.

Nagashi-kake, Kasama wareOriginal Source: Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum

The nagashi-kake technique

The nagashi-kake technique commonly used to make Kasama ware is also used in over 50 production areas in Japan, from the north (Aomori Prefecture and Iwate Prefecture) to the south (Oita Prefecture and Kagoshima Prefecture). It is a representative technique to decorate ceramic wares that became popularly used in Japan after the Edo period, including Kasama ware.

Climbing kiln of Kuno kiln, Kasama wareKyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory

origin of Kasama ware: Shigaraki ware

The history of Kasama ware goes back to the Edo period. According to Kasama Tōki Enkaku-shi (The History of Kasama Ware, 1882), the Shigaraki potter Chōemon visited Kuno Han’emon at Hakoda Village in Hitachi Province’s Ibaraki County (present-day Hakoda, Kasama City) sometime between 1772-1789, bringing with him the technique of glost firing and this was one of the factors leading to the birth of Kasama ware (known at the time as Hakoda ware). For this reason, Shigaraki ware is believed to be one of the origins of Kasama ware.

Kuno Toen, Kasama wareKyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory

Kasama Domain’s policy to
promote industries and Kuno Kiln

During the years between 1789-1817, lord of Kusama Domain, Makino Sadaharu encouraged the pottery industry as part of the domain’s policy to promote industries. In 1861 six potters were designated the shihō-kama (kilns for passing the craft and techniques to posterity) of Kasama Domain, of which Kuno Kiln remains in use today.

Isobe Toēn, Kasama wareKyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory

Another origin: Shishido ware and Isobe Tōen

It is said that around 1816 Yamaguchi Kanbei of Temachi Village in Hitachi Province’s West Ibaraki County(present-day Shishido, Kasama City)returned to Shishido upon acquiring the techniques of pottery making in Mito and began making pottery wares for daily use. Shishido ware is another origin of Kasama ware. The Yamaguchi Kiln continues to be used today as part of the workshop Isobe Tōen. The structure of the kiln for firing Shishido is reminiscent of that used for making Sōma ware in Fukushima Prefecture.

"Dainippon Tōgyō Hyaku-ketsujin-mei" (Outstanding People in the Ceramic Industry of Great Japan) in Toki ShohoKyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory

name “Kasama-yaki ” (Kasama ware) and Tanaka Tomosaburō

The name “Kasama-yaki” became widely known during the Meiji period. The ceramic producer and wholesaler Tanaka Tomosaburō (1829-1913) of Mino (Gifu Prefecture) relocated to Kasama, and received the Sekine Genzō Kiln—one of the Shihō-kama kilns—in 1869, with which he began producing and selling teapots and mortars under the name “Kasama-yaki”. He made efforts to expand the market and Kasama ware would become widely known, especially in the Kantō region. Besides being well known as a potter in the Meiji period, Tanaka Tomosaburō is also among the “Dainippon Tōgyō Hyaku-ketsu jinmei (Outstanding People in the Ceramic Industry of Great Japan” listed in Tōki Shōhō, a pottery business bulletin.

Kasama College of Ceramic ArtKyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory

A new
era for Kasama ware

Mass production of Kasama ware using plaster moulds became widespread in pottery production areas that handled clay from the Taishō period. However, due to the great shrinkage, Kasama clay was not suitable for plaster moulding and could only be fashioned using a potter’s wheel, thus widening the gap between the production of Kasama ware and that of other production sites. The arrival of plastic products after WWII further reduced the demand for ceramic and china wares, forcing Kasama ware production into a tough situation. Under such circumstances and to ensure Kasama ware could stay relevant to the new era, various efforts were made to enhance the environment for the production of Kasama ware, including the establishment of the Ibaraki-ken Yōgyō Shidōsho (predecessor of Kasama College of Ceramic Art) was established in 1950, the creation of a ceramic art complex and an art center in the 1960s, and the construction of a pottery complex in the 1970s.

Square dish with Genji-ko design, Kasama ware by Sato GoKyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory

ware today and on

Ceramic artist and traditional Kasama ware artist, Satō Gō uses traditional Kasama ware clay and glazes (such as black glaze and persimmon-red glaze) to create modern Kasama ware with new designs. His Dishes are an example of such modern Kasama ware with contrasting glazes.

Credits: Story

Information and images provided by:
Kasama City
Ibaraki Ceramic Art Museum
Kuno Toen
Isobe Toen
Sato Go

Direction and text by:
Todate Kazuko, Tama Art University

English translation:
Eddy Y. L. Chang

Exhibition created by:
Nagatomo Kana
Ueyama Emiko

Project Directors:
Dr Maezaki Shinya, Professor, Kyoto Women's University
Dr. Masako Yamamoto, Ritsumeikan 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.
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