By Kyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory
Kyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory
The history of Funaki
Kiln in Fujina
The history of the Funaki family is also the history of Fujina Ware, boasting about 300 years. Around mid-Edo period Funaki Yojibei Muramasa relocated to Fujina, where his three children each independently established their own potteries. This was the beginning of Fujina Ware. The Funaki Kiln today was a branch from one of the three potteries and opened in 1845. Beginning with Funaki Heibei as the first generation, followed by second-generation Asatarō, third-generation Asatarō Unbei, and onto fourth-generation Michitada in the Taishō period. During the Edo period sea shipment was the main method of distributing commodities. The Lake Shinji cove where Funaki Kiln is located was a port from which pottery and ceramic wares made at Funaki Kiln were transported to the rest of Japan.
history of Funaki Kiln
By the time of the third generation, the kiln was mainly producing wares for export to the west. There were many small huts at the pottery and a large number of workers working under labour division, with as many as over 200 workers were employed at times. During the Edo period private kilns like Funaki Kiln made various products for general usage. Japan’s participation in the world expositions during the Meiji period became the catalyst for exportation toward the west. With its central role in the region, Funaki Kiln would continue to develop, reaching its peak during the Taishō period.
The era of exportation
Funaki Kiln produced wares for exportation as cheaper versions of renowned French Limoges porcelain between the Meiji and Taishō period. These products were oriented for the US and Germany; their dark green and cinnabar colours perfectly match the Limoges shape and are still beautiful to behold today. It is sad that this was the result of mutual influence with the products of Rookwood pottery in Cincinnati at the time.
with the Mingei movement
Michitada (fourth generation) was born in 1900. He studied western painting at an art school in Tokyo in his youth, and when he took over his family business he began wondering what to do with it. It was around that time that he met Ōhara Magosaburō of Kurashiki Museum of Folkcraft, and became acquainted with Hamada Shōji, Bernard Leach and Yanagi Muneyoshi (Sōetsu) known for their involvement in the Mingei (folkcraft) movement. By the time of Kenji (fifth generation), the Mingei movement had become popular nationwide. Although Funaki Kiln is sometimes considered as part of the Mingei movement, Kenji’s connection with the Mingei movement was personal. He may have been influenced by the movement, but Funaki Kiln on the whole was not involved in promoting the movement.
by Funaki Michitada
Funaki Michitada used kimachi’ishi (stone quarried in Kimachi) and achieved his characteristic Fujina yellow glaze, earning him the title of the Holder of Intangible Cultureal Property of Shimane Prefecture in 1962. The voluminous form of his works and the way the shoulders stretch out remind one of the art décor era, while his characteristic use of colours such as green prevents his works from looking too simple.
Works by Funaki Kenji
The large dish in vibrant olive green is made with a modern and simple design typical of Funaki Kenji, the fifth generation. He studied under Hamada Shōji, before going on to win the Japanese Folk Crafts Museum Award in 1950. In 1967 he went to England to further study pottery at the potteries of Bernard and David Leach, fully acquiring the techniques for making slipware. He is known for large dishes, pitchers with handles, and so forth.
cup by Funaki Shinji
Funaki Shinji’s works are characteristic in that they are unique designs based on the tradition of Funaki Kiln. Using materials found in Shimane prefecture, he creates a variety of works like light-yellow vessels or slipware by applying a variety of techniques (such as using a syringe to squeeze out engobe, painting patterns, and so forth).
bowl by Funaki Shinji
This large bowl is striking with its silver-colour glaze and dark indigo polka-dot pattern. To obtain the silver colour, the bowl was fired 3 times after biscuit firing.
Ever-changing Funaki Kiln, Fujinayaki (2017) by Funaki Kiln and Photo: Mori YoshiyukiKyoto Women's University, Lifestyle Design Laboratory
Kiln in Fujina has always created wares keeping with the times over its
300-year history, resulting in the variety of works produced
by the kiln.
Funaki Shinji tells us that, “I am not thinking about my successor. I don’t want to work thinking about what happens after I retire, neither do I work thinking about the past. I work by thinking that it’s now or never.”
The Viewing Room
Funaki Kiln with a scenic view of Lake Shinji can be visited by pre-booking. Past works are on display and sold at the Viewing Room.