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Kumamoto pottery ware ”Shodai-yaki”

Kumamoto pottery ware

Traditional pottery from the Kanei period

Shodai-yaki is pottery made by using the local soil of Mt. Shodaisan, and has a history that dates back to the beginning of the Edo era. Pottery becomes black after being kilned. However, after trial and error, it was discovered that pottery turned out whitish when they were kilned with straw ash glaze (glaze made mainly from baked straw ash), so straw ash glaze became the glaze of choice. However, pottery made with Shodai clay turns out a pale blue due to the high iron content of the soil. Using a technique called ”nagashi-kake” which is unique to Shodai-yaki, freestyle lines of pale blue adorn black pottery, giving it a simple yet strong looking finish.

Climbing kilns, wisdom from the past

There is a climbing kiln of many tiers behind the workshop. Firewood is placed in the lowest kiln. When the temperature reaches 1300°C, the fire is put out and the wood is placed in the next tier. The second kiln has already reached a temperature of 1000°C at this point, so the temperature only needs to be raised another 300°C with the firewood. The structure of climbing kilns, and the use of residual heat are both wisdom from the past.

Making 10,000 teacups to be considered proficient

“The basic style of Shodai-yaki is a teacup. When a teacup is carefully spread using a potter’s wheel, it becomes a rice bowl. When it is spread further, a dish is made. It is said that one must make 10,000 tea cups in order to be considered proficient as a potter. It takes at least another 3 years to make items referred to as ”fukuromono,” such as a ”tokkuri” (sake bottle) and a single-flower vase. After Nakata tried making pottery, Yasuaki Inoue, the founder of Shodai-yaki Fumoto-gama said with a smile on his face. ”It changes your perspective when you actually try making one for yourself, doesn’t it? You can appreciate how it’s actually made.”
The personality of the potter may be reflected in the simple and strong style of Shodai-yaki.”


Shodai-yaki Fumoto-gama
1728-2 Furuhata, Fumoto, Arao-shi, Kumamoto