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Tokoname Pottery Path

I continued my ongoing project about handcrafted japanese teapots in Tokoname, Aichi. On a late afternoon I went out for a walk and took some "non touristic shots" with my Leica M4p and Summicron 35mm, loaded with TX400. Many thanks to Mr. Bergs @ MeinFilmLab who greatly supported this project!

The "Yakimono Sanpomichi" or Pottery Path is a path which started as a natural tour of the various points of interest in Tokoname in about 1972. This path is filled with old traditional houses, workshops and buildings of great character and interest. It has remained unchanged keeping its pottery-town atmosphere, unique to Tokoname. I'd like to explain a little about the City of Tokoname before we start walking.

Tokoname was already well-known as a pottery town at the end of the 12th century. Tokoname is one of the six historic pottery towns of Japan. The others are: Bizen, Shigaraki, Tamba, Seto and Echizen. They are known as The Six Ancient Kilns of Japan".

The Tokoname kilns were said to be the largest and oldest of them all. Tokoname took advantage of its proximity to the sea and extended the market throughout Japan by use of ships. A large amount of old Tokoname pottery was found in many places in Japan. You can see the pottery from those days at The Ceramic Art Institute.

Although it was made more than 900 years ago, it is very artistic and shows the dynamic flashings and brightness from natural wood-ash glaze. Tokoname ware has a long history and tradition which dates back from 900 years ago.

Redware was invented in the early 1800s. It developed with the production of teaware like teapots and cups for green tea. Producing ceramic pipes, bowls and jars has made Tokoname City prosperous. In the 1900s the mass production was introduced which saw the establishment of production systems and improvement of kilns.
Nowadays a wide range of ceramics from construction tiles and sanitary ware to table ware, vases and art pottery is produced.

Redware teapots are famous as typical Tokoname ware, so that one remembers red-brown teapots immediately when one hears the name of Tokoname. It was relatively earlier in the history of Tokoname ceramics that redware was introduced. It was during the period from 1861 to 1864. Tea ware for green tea like teapots had been produced since the early 19th century in Tokoname following the popularity of the custom of green tea drinking from the late Edo era.

Typical tea ware during this period was redware produced in China. Mr. Jyumon Sugie and Nikou Kataoka started to make redware for the first time in Tokoname. Tokoname redware was made by the clay from rice fields which contained lots of iron. This clay gave the ware a rich deep red color. Producing redware drastically changed Tokoname's ceramic industry. Potters who specialize in making redware teapots appeared in addition to those who had made conventional large products such as jars and pots.

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