【Introduction to traditional crafts】 ~Otani ware (Tokushima Prefecture)~

【Introduction to traditional crafts】 ~Otani ware (Tokushima Prefecture)~


Otani ware



【Production area of Otani ware】

Oasa-cho, Naruto City, Tokushima Prefecture



【What is Otani ware?】

This pottery has been produced in Oasa-cho, Naruto City, Tokushima Prefecture for about 230 years.

The size of the climbing kiln is said to be the largest in Japan, and even large pottery can be fired without problems.

In addition to large pottery, a wide range of items such as tableware, tea ceremony utensils, and various decorative items are made.

The most common color is dark brown, but silver and other colors are also produced.


In September 2003, it was designated as a traditional craft.

Currently, there are 6 potteries in Oasa-cho.



【Features of Otani ware】

The characteristics of Otani ware are “soil” and “manufacturing method”.

The soil is based on “Hagiwara clay”, “Himeda clay”, and “Sanuki clay” collected in the local Oasa-cho, and the same clay as these is used as the main raw material.

It is characterized by its high iron content, and there are many fans who feel familiar with its “rough texture” and “slightly glossy texture”.


The representative manufacturing method is “Nerokuro”.

This method is used when making large pots that are as tall as a human being.

The name comes from the fact that the craftsmen who lie down under the workbench kick the potter’s wheel with their feet to turn it.



【History of Otani ware】

It is said that Otani ware started in 1780.

Bunemon, a pottery craftsman from Bungo Province (present-day Oita Prefecture), visited Otani Village (present-day Oasa-cho, Naruto City).

At that time, he used red clay to make pottery using a potter’s wheel.


The following year, in 1781, the 11th lord of the Tokushima domain, Haruaki Hachisuka, became interested in pottery, which was rare in the Tokushima domain at the time, and built a kiln operated by the domain (= domain kiln).

Here, sometsuke ceramics were produced for the first time in Awa Province (now Tokushima Prefecture).

Unfortunately, the clan kiln was temporarily closed.

(The reason for the closure was that it was not profitable due to the high cost of raw materials ordered from Kyushu)


In 1784, a multi-chamber climbing kiln was built in the village, and it became a folk kiln for firing pottery used in daily life.


referring source:Wikipedia


Bungoro Kaya, an indigo merchant, was instrumental in the construction of this kiln.

Heiji Hiraei Nouda learned the traditional techniques necessary for making pottery under the guidance of a Shigaraki ware craftsman.

It is said that the origin of Otani-yaki pottery production was started by him.



【Production process of Otani ware】

①Pulverization of soil

After preparing the clay, which is the raw material for Otani ware, it is dried and then crushed to make it finer.


② Sieve

The crushed soil is sieved to remove impurities.



After removing the impurities and refining it, put it in a water tank and stir it.

While agitating the soil, pour it into another tank and gradually transfer the soil.

After moving the clay, remove impurities with a sieve and leave it until the potter’s clay settles.

Pottery clay is the clay used to make pottery.

When the potter’s clay settles, it is transferred to a serving bowl and left until it becomes firm enough for future work.


④Soil kneading

The first thing to do is “rough kneading” to even out the softness of the potter’s clay.

Once the potter’s clay has reached a moderate hardness, it is spread out in a circular shape, and the barefoot craftsman climbs onto it.

The potter’s clay is strongly pushed out with both feet.


The next step is “Kiku Neri”, which removes the air contained in the potter’s clay.

After the rough kneading is completed, the clay is slowly kneaded while rotating it.



referring source:Awa Navi


After kneading, the potter’s clay is transferred to the potter’s wheel and shaped by hand.

If craftsmen want to make a large-scale work, use the traditional method called “Nerokuro”, which is described above, and uses a pair of two people.

One person spins the potter’s wheel as if kicking it with their feet, and the other person shapes it.



The molded work is dried indoors (dried in the shade).

The approximate drying period is as follows.

・Small works → 2 to 7 days

・Large work → about 20 days


After drying in the shade, it is dried in the sun.

The approximate drying period is as follows.

・Small work → 1 day

・Large works → 2-3 days



Glazing is the process of applying glaze to the work.

Glaze is a powder used to prevent liquids from soaking into the work, and it melts and becomes glassy when fired.

It also has a glossy effect on the surface.


The following three methods are mainly used for glazing.

・Raw hanging

A method in which only glazing is performed without unglazing



A method of dipping an unglazed work into a glaze



A method of pouring glaze over the work using a ladle etc.


After glazing, it is unglazed.

The temperature of the kiln is set to about 800℃, and the pieces are slowly baked for 8 to 16 hours.


⑧Filling in the kiln

Kiln stuffing is the work of arranging the works neatly in the kiln.



Firing is the process of setting the temperature to about 1200°C and firing the work.

There are three types of kilns for firing:


・Climbing kiln

General baking days are 5 to 6 days and nights


・Electric kiln


・Gas kiln

General baking days are 1-2 days



After firing, when the work is taken out of the kiln, it is checked for cracks one by one.

Works that have been successfully inspected are sold as finished products and delivered to customers.





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