mino yaki

Mino Ware (Mino yaki) :Savoring Four Styles Tradition on Dining Table

What is Mino Ware?

Mino ware is the representative ceramics of Japan. Its beauty and diversity account for half of the domestic market share, and it has become a familiar part of our daily lives. Produced in Gifu Prefecture, formerly known as Mino Province, located in the central part of Japan's Honshu Island, Mino ware boasts a long history and has been produced in a variety of colors and shapes over the years.

Mino ware is characterized by its diversity; more than 15 different styles have been developed to date, and the techniques have spread beyond a single form. Mino potteries are scattered throughout eastern Gifu Prefecture, with Tajimi, Toki, Mizunami, and Kawagoe cities being the main centers of Mino pottery production. It is the most popular pottery in Japan and holds the largest share of the pottery market.

Characteristics of Mino Ware

By Michi no eki Shino Oribe

In fact, Mino ware does not have any characteristics that can be recognized as "Mino ware" at a glance.That is the greatest feature of Mino ware.The reason why it is said in this way is related to the long history of Mino ware mentioned above.Mino ware has used a wide variety of designs and techniques in accordance with the times, and in modern times, it has no conspicuous features from the background of mass production for being used as daily miscellaneous ware.

However, because it has changed without being bound by formality in color, shape, and painting against the background of its long history, there are as many as 15 types of its style.Although we have said that Mino ware is characterized by its lack of features, there are in fact different features such as color and texture depending on the style.

History of Mino Ware

By Michi no eki Shino Oribe

The history of Mino ware is long, with its roots in the introduction of potter's wheel and anagama kilns(hole kiln) to Japan from the Korean Peninsula around the 5th century, along with the Sue ware manufacturing method, and the origin of Mino ware is thought to be the introduction of Sue ware manufacturing to present-day Gifu Prefecture (Mino) around the 7th century, when pottery began to be produced there.

In the Azuchi-Momoyama period (16th to 17th centuries), the world of tea ceramics was born as a result of the popularity of the tea ceremony. Under the economic policy of Oda Nobunaga, innovative ceramics such as "Hai-shino" "Shino" "Oribe" and "Setoguro " were produced by Mino potters under the leadership of Sen no Rikyu and Oribe Furuta. Also during this period, "climbing kilns," which utilized the slopes of mountains, came into use.

In the mid-17th century (mid-Edo period), tableware used in daily life, such as bowls, plates, and sake cups, began to be produced in large quantities. Until this time, Mino ware was mainly ceramic ware, but at the end of the Edo period, porcelain began to be made by mixing "feldspar" and "silica stone" as well as clay as raw materials.

In the Meiji period (1868-1912), in competition with other production centers, there was a growing trend toward streamlining the production of tableware for daily use. As a result, a system of division of labor by product was developed and low-cost production was realized. In the late Taisho Era (1912-1926), the supply of electricity led to the use of machines for production, and from the Showa Era (1926-1989), as the demand for luxury products increased, technology and production efficiency were improved.

Through these histories, Mino ware became the pottery that obtained the largest market share in Japan and is still patronized by many users.

Four Basic Types of Mino Ware

By Michi no eki Shino Oribe

The four basic styles of Mino ware are "Kizeto", "Setoguro", "Shino", and "Oribe".Each of them will be explained.

Kizeto (黄瀬戸)

mino ware kizeto

Kizeto is characterized by a warm, soft yellow color and is painted with plant patterns. There is also "Ayamete," with its elegant green flecks and burnt patterns, and "Guinomite," which is thicker and has almost no patterns or burnt patterns.

This pottery is characterized by its deep yellow color, partial green color from the use of natural copper sulfate, and simple patterns such as flowers and lines, giving it a rustic and humble atmosphere that is different from Shino and Oribe.

Setoguro (瀬戸黒)

mino ware setoguro
The Met

At a time when only reddish black tea bowls were available, this pottery was welcomed by tea masters for its deep and beautiful black color.This black color appears when fired in a kiln at around 1200 degrees Celsius and then removed from the kiln to cool rapidly.This technique is called "Hikidashi-guro”.Also, while rounded tea bowls were the norm at the time, Setoguro was notable for being made in the form of a half-tube with a low base.


mino ware shino
The Met

Shino is beautiful with its delicate penetration, gentle white color and faint scarlet.It is said to be the first white pottery made by the Japanese.At that time, it was common practice to use plain pottery, but Shino was revolutionary in that it had a pattern painted on it.

There were further types such as Plain Shino, Painted Shino,Beni Shino, and Nerikomi Shino, and the Shino tea bowl "Ubana-gai" is one of only two domestically produced tea bowls designated as a national treasure.The Shino technique was lost in the Edo period, but Toyozo Arakawa, a living national treasure of Shino and Setoguro, recreated Shino.


mino ware oribe
The British Museum

During the Azuchi-Momoyama period, the tea master Oribe Furuta had this pottery made to suit his taste.The bold forms, bright green, and iron pigments used to draw patterns and pictures were unprecedented.Oribe Black, Blue Oribe, Shino Oribe, and many other shapes and patterns are available.Oribe Furuta is also believed to have been involved in the birth of Kizeto, Setoguro, and Shino.

The Other 11 Types

Mino ware is basically classified into the above four categories, but the following 11 styles can also be added when classified more finely.

These 11 types are "Tenmoku 天目" "Sometsuke 染付" "Akae 赤絵" "Seiji 青磁" "Tetsuyu 鉄釉" "Haiyu 灰釉" "Kohiki 粉引" "Ofuke 御深井" "Ameyu 飴釉" "Minoiga 美濃伊賀" and "Minokaratsu 美濃唐津".

In total, these 15 types of Mino ware, including the aforementioned four types, have been designated as traditional crafts in Japan.

Representative Artists of Mino Ware

By Michi no eki Shino Oribe

We introduce two representative artists who contributed to the development of Mino ware.

Oribe Furuta (古田織部)

Oribe Furuta was a warrior and a tea master who was active from the late Warring States period to the early Edo period. He was a disciple of Rikyu, and was known as one of the "Rikyu Shichikaku" (representing the high disciples of Rikyu), and after Rikyu's death, he gained such fame that he was even called "greatest tea master”.

Oribe Furuta also had a deep knowledge of ceramics, and his tastes were reflected in the Mino ware "Oribe. It is believed that his influence can be seen in other styles that emerged during this period, such as Kizeto, Setoguro, and Shino.

He was a tea master who pursued free and bold beauty, and in ceramics, he produced creative and unique works. There were many variations of "Oribe" in his hands, and a variety of styles existed, such as "Oribe Black," which was entirely coated with iron glaze, "Blue Oribe," which was covered with blue glaze, and "Shino Oribe," which was white, thinly glazed, and glossy.

Toyozo Arakawa (荒川豊蔵)

Toyozo Arakawa was a representative Mino ceramic artist of the Showa period and a living national treasure who inherited the Shino and Setoguro techniques. In 1930, he discovered a piece of Momoyama period "Bamboo Shoot Etsutsukawa Mukozuke" pottery at the Muta-do old kiln site. This proved that Shino was unmistakably Mino, although it had previously been thought to be Seto.

During the Edo period (1603-1868), the Shino technique was lost as the center of pottery production moved to Bizen, but Arakawa succeeded in reproducing the Shino technique by building a half-aboveground climbing kiln near the Muta-do ancient kiln site. It is due to the great achievement of Toyozo Arakawa that Shino has been handed down to this day.

Representative Mino Ware Manufacturing Kilns

Michi no eki Shino Oribe

Mino ware has many wonderful kilns, and we would like to introduce three of them.They are "Kaneko Kohyo Pottery Manufacturing" "Mino ware Shinko Kiln," and "Koubei Kiln.

Kaneko Kohyo Pottery Manufacturing (カネコ小兵製陶所)

Kaneko Kohyo Pottery Manufacturing is a Mino ware pottery founded in 1921, and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2021.They continue to produce vessels every day while cherishing the long history and traditions of Mino ware.

The pottery is popular for its ease of use and warmth of design that enriches our casual daily lives. While preserving tradition and culture, we are energetically developing sales channels through the Web, utilizing crowdfunding, and operating social networking services.

Mino Ceramic Ware Shinko-gama (伸光窯)

Shinkogama is a long-established pottery manufacturer in Toki City, Gifu Prefecture, founded in 1887.The company has been in business for 130 years, and its products are made with an awareness of design and functionality in line with the new age and the technology that has been refined over the long history of the company.

The company is at the forefront of the industry, engaging in crowdfunding and vigorous online sales.The company also offers a lineup of products in series, such as CORON and CORONMom, making product selection an exciting experience.

Koubei-gama (幸兵衛窯)

Koubei Kiln is one of the traditional Mino pottery kilns located in Tajimi City, Gifu Prefecture.The kiln was established in 1804 and has developed as an imperial kiln that delivered dyed tableware to Edo Castle.The sixth generation, Takuo Kato, was recognized as a Living National Treasure for his achievements in restoring Persian pottery and Shosoin three-color techniques and creating works that fuse tradition and originality.These techniques have been passed down to the seventh and eighth generations, who continue to produce elegant Japanese tableware today.