About Satsuma ware (Satsuma yaki) you should know as one of Japanese pottery

About Satsuma ware (Satsuma yaki) you should know as one of Japanese pottery

What is Satsuma pottery?

Satsuma ware is one of Japan's representative ceramics and is produced in Kagoshima Prefecture in the southern part of the country. It can be divided into two main types: "White Satsuma" and "Black Satsuma". Satsuma ware is classified into five main types according to its production area: Tateno, Ryumonji, Naeshirogawa, Nishi Mochida, and Hirasa. Note that only three kiln sites remain today: the Naeshirogawa style,Ryumonji style, and Tateno style.

The Naeshirogawa kiln initially produced mainly Black Satsuma, but today it produces mainly White Satsuma. The Ryumonji is a kiln that produces mainly Black Satsuma and sake cups, while the Tateno produces mainly White Satsuma and mainly produces tea utensils for gifts. In 2002, it was designated as a traditional Japanese craft and is a very valuable type of pottery.

Characteristics of Satsuma pottery

By kadai ouchi

Satsuma ware can be classified into two types, "White Satsuma" and "Black Satsuma," and let's take a look at the characteristics of each.

White Satsuma (Shiro-Satsuma)


White Satsuma, called "Shiromon(Kagoshima dialect)" is pale yellow pottery decorated with a transparent glaze (yuyaku) and cracks on the surface, and was mainly made as ornaments and figurines. The main types of Nishiki-te are gorgeous and gorgeous colored brocade with gold, red, yellow, green, purple, and other painted designs, characterized by the unique cracks on the surface. Before the discovery of white clay in Kagoshima, where the pottery is produced, white clay brought by potters from the Korean Peninsula was used to make White Satsuma. Because of the iron-rich volcanic ash from Sakurajima, an active volcano, obtaining white clay was extremely precious, and it was mainly used as a gift to the feudal lord.

As part of its cultural promotion measures, the clan sent craftsmen to Kyoto to learn color painting techniques and gold brocade, and in 1867, the Shimazu clan exhibited its wares alone at the Paris Exposition. In 1867, Shimazu exhibited his work at the Paris Exposition. White Satsuma attracted the attention of Europeans and became widely known as "SATSUMA".

Black Satsuma (Kuro-Satsuma)

Black Satsuma, called “Kuromon(Kagoshima dialect)”, is made of clay with high iron content and colored glaze. The characteristics of Black Satsuma are that it has a more profound appearance than the delicate and graceful Shiro-satsuma. Black Satsuma is mainly used for drinking shochu (distilled spirit), and developed as daily-use utensils for the masses. Typical examples include a simple earthenware bottle called "Kurochaya" and "Karakara" a type of tokuri.

History of Satsuma pottery

The history of Satsuma ware pottery begins with the Japanese invasion of Korea during the Warring States period (1529-1598). This war, in which Japan went to war in Korea, was also known as the "Yakimono War," and Satsuma ware was born when Yoshihiro Shimazu, the lord of the Satsuma domain, brought back 80 Korean potters. The Korean potters, including Park Pyeong-i and Kim Hae, opened kilns within the Satsuma domain and produced various styles of ceramics in their own styles. This style was divided into different schools and characteristics, and sublimated into the present form of Satsuma ware.

The kiln of Chinjukan, located in Miyama, is the home of color-painted Satsuma, which inherited the unique customs of Korea. The Araki Pottery, which was taken over by a descendant of Bak Pyeong-i, is a kiln that uses a left-turned potter's wheel, which is unique to Korea, and uses unique natural glazes, preserving the traditions inherited from the ancestors.

Famous Satsuma Pottery Kiln

The Chinjukan Kiln is one of the most famous Satsuma ware potteries. The Chanjukangama kiln still produces White and Black Satsuma. Since it is difficult to produce White satsuma by natural forces alone, the White satsuma is fired in a gas kiln, while the Black satsuma is produced in a climbing kiln. In the Chinsugan kiln, each craftsman is in charge of his own manufacturing process, such as churning and openwork, and each process is divided into separate rooms. The division of labor in these processes is a remnant of the past practice of the Shimazu clan, which produced Satsuma-yaki, and was part of an effort to prevent the theft and outflow of techniques. The craftsmanship that goes into each process thoroughly is elaborate and extremely beautiful.

3 famous Satsuma pottery

We'd like to introduce three major Satsuma ware from Kagoshima prefecture.

1.Iron sand glazed gourd-shaped Tokkuri (Ryumonji style)

By Kagoshima Prefecture

The iron sand glaze of this piece is characterized by a deep red color with purplish tints, and is called hokko red because the sherds came from the remains of the hokko's residence.

2.Nishikite insect cage (Tateno style)

By Kagoshima prefecture

This insect cage is a work of high perfection because it is so finely carved as if it were actually made of woven bamboo, and the painted parts are painted as if they were Japanese paintings.

3.Tortoiseshell glazed sake pouring vessel (Hirasa style)

By Kagoshima Prefecture

This piece was so named because of its resemblance to the tortoiseshell made from the shell of the turtles known as taimai. The sharp spout, body, and handle are well balanced with the excellent base and glaze flow, making this a beautiful sake vessel.