【Introduction to traditional crafts】~Mino ware (Gifu Prefecture)~

【Introduction to traditional crafts】~Mino ware (Gifu Prefecture)~


Mino ware



【Production area of Mino ware】

Gifu Prefecture Tajimi City, Mizunami City, Ena City, Toki City, Kani City, Mitake Town, Kani County, etc.



【What is Mino ware?】

Ceramics produced in some areas of the Tono region of Gifu Prefecture.

Among the ceramics produced in Japan, it has a share of more than 50%.

In July 1978, it was designated as a traditional craft.



【Features of Mino ware】

The greatest feature of Mino ware is its wide variety.

15 types are designated as traditional crafts.




“Shino” is characterized by painting under the glaze.

In addition,  “white pottery” for the first time, which did not exist until then and was admired by Japanese people.

Both are said to be the first time in the history of Japanese pottery, and they are pottery that overturns common sense.

It has a beautiful light red color and has a bubble-like texture due to the feldspar glaze.

It reached its peak in the Momoyama period, but it disappeared once in the Edo period.

Living National Treasure Mr. Toyozo Arakawa made an effort, and it is still inherited today.




“Oribe” is said to have been made by Furuta Oribe, a disciple of Sen no Rikyu, according to his own taste.

He created many works that overturned the common sense of the time, such as bold shapes that were okay even if they were distorted, and vivid greens.




It features a beautiful light yellow color.

“Ayamete” is a thin vessel with a pattern of flowers and plants, and you can enjoy the green spots and brown burns.

Two of the representative ones are “Guinomi Te”, which is thick and has almost no patterns or burns.




It is characterized by a bluish-green to jade color.




Until Setoguro was born, there were only reddish black tea bowls.

Seto-guro, for which the word “jet-black” fits perfectly, made the tea masters of the time very happy.

It is also called “Tensho-guro” or “Hikidashi-guro” because it was fired during the Tensho era (1573-1592).




It is red with bright colors such as yellow, blue, green, and purple.




After painting on white porcelain, glaze is applied.




The origin of the name comes from the appearance that looks like a white powder.




It is basically black, but the thin part of the glaze is amber or persimmon color.




It is named Ofuke because it resembles Ofuke ware (pottery baked at Ofukemaru in Nagoya Castle).




A glaze that contains iron and develops an amber color.


・Mino Iga


It is called “Mino-Iga” because it resembles “Iga ware” made in Iga City, Mie Prefecture.


・Mino Karatsu


It is a pottery similar to Karatsu ware, fired in the kiln of “Oribe”.

It is also called “Oribe Karatsu”.


・Ash glaze


Plant ash is the main ingredient.


・Iron glaze


This is an improved ash glaze that uses a chemical reaction of iron to change its color.



Potters have created new glazes one after another according to the times and people’s tastes.

In addition, potters have created pottery of various shapes and colors by competing with each other.



【History of Mino ware】

Around the 5th century, “Sue ware”, “rokuro” and “hole kiln” were introduced from the Korean Peninsula.

Mino ware is said to have started with the introduction of these items into Japan.

(There is another theory that potters from Seto migrated to Mino around the end of the Muromachi period, and that the production started as a result.)


In the Heian period, ash-glazed white porcelain (shirashi = pottery, roof tiles, etc. before being fired) was created as a unique improvement of Sueki.

It is said that the white porcelain rose in popularity.


From the Azuchi-Momoyama period to the early Edo period, pottery such as “Oribe,” “Shino,” and “Kizeto,” which were introduced earlier, reached their peak.

This is due to the development of tea ceremony culture and the production of many pottery with high artistic elements.


In the latter half of the 17th century, household items such as those used at meals began to be produced.

At that time, aiming for white porcelain, “Taihaku” using white glaze was fired.


In the latter half of the Edo period, the production of porcelain began.

Also, in the Meiji period, Togosu (a blue pigment) was imported, and the previously unstable coloring became stable.

This has led to the development of new techniques such as screen printing.


Around the middle of the Meiji period, the production of daily necessities began.

In order to realize lower-cost production, a system of division of labor by product developed.


At the end of the Taisho era (1912-1926), as electricity became available, mechanization progressed at once.

As the scale of production expanded, the conventional “climbing kiln” changed to “sumigama”.


In the Showa period, luxury goods and tiles were also manufactured.

Today, Mino ware has become the most produced pottery in Japan, both in name and reality.



【Production process of Mino ware】

①Soil kneading

When the moisture content and hardness of the soil are uniform throughout, it is kneaded while rotating.

The purpose of spinning is to remove the air trapped in the soil.

After kneading the clay, it looks like chrysanthemum petals, so it is sometimes called “Kiku(=chrysanthemum)neri(= kneading)”.



The three most commonly used molding methods for Mino ware are potter’s wheel, hand twist, and tatara molding.

In addition, there are many other methods such as “insertion molding”, “pressure molding”, “mechanical wheel molding”, “fully automatic molding”, and “press molding”.

While making full use of various molding methods, the potters aim for mass production as much as possible.



If necessary, it is scraped and then dried slowly.

There are two main drying methods.


・drying in the shade

・Sun drying


The time required for drying will vary depending on the type of work being produced.

for example…


・Whether or not to paste the pattern

・Size of work

・Whether to draw a pattern with a gold comb or a bamboo comb

・Thickness of substrate

・How to decorate, etc.



It is fired at a temperature of 700-800°C, evaporates the moisture contained in the soil, and burns combustible materials.

Unglazing increases strength.

It also makes it easier to “glaze” later.


⑤Underglaze decoration

Underglaze decoration is painting under the glaze.

The potter applies the desired color pigment to a special painting brush and paints on the surface of the unglazed pottery.

The main components of pigments are iron, copper, cobalt, etc.


Once the underglazing is complete, a “transparent glaze” is applied from above.

By applying a “transparent glaze”, various colors appear depending on the ingredients of the pigment.

For example, cobalt oxide develops “indigo blue”, and iron develops “brown or blackish brown”.


※Glaze → Vitreous powder used to give luster to the surface of bisque-fired ceramics and to prevent liquids from seeping into it.



Glazing is the process of applying glaze.

There are three main methods.



Method of submerging the work in a container containing glaze



A method of pouring the glaze with a ladle while turning the work



A method of applying glaze using a spray gun, etc.


When the glaze is applied and fired, it melts and creates a glass-like film on the surface of the work.

This membrane makes it impervious to water and increases its hardness.

It also gives a luster, so it also plays a role in decorating the work.


There are three basic types of glaze:


・Ash glaze

A glaze whose main ingredient is the ash of plants.


・Feldspar glaze

Feldspar is the main component, and the glaze has a soft white color.


・Lead glaze

A glaze whose main component is lead oxide


Various glazes are made by adding other ingredients such as metal, iron, and copper to the above three.


⑦Glost firing

Glost firing is firing at a high temperature after glazing.

Two points.


・Carefully fill the kiln

・Place the kiln so that the entire kiln has a uniform density.


The main types of kilns are as follows.

・Climbing kiln

referring source:Totetsu Bus


・Gas kiln

referring source:Otai kiln


・Electric kiln

referring source:Yamagen Kajita Co., Ltd.



Overglazing is the process of painting patterns and pictures with special paints on the finished product after firing.

Paints are made by mixing metals (iron, copper, cobalt, manganese, etc.) with soda or lead.


After drawing a picture, it is fired at a temperature of 700-800°C, which is lower than the firing temperature, to prevent the color from fading.



After firing, sand the piece to complete the Mino ware.





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