History of Kasama-yakiand Mashiko-yaki

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History of Kasama-yakiand Mashiko-yaki

Is it true that Kasama-yaki and Mashiko-yaki are siblings?

What is "Kasamashiko"?

History of Kasama-yaki

Mid-Edo Period

The history of Kasama-yaki began in the An'ei Era (1772-1781) in the mid-Edo Period. History has it that Han-emon Kuno in Hakoda Village (now Hakoda Town) built a pottery and started making pottery under the guidance of the Shigaraki potter, Chouemon.

End of Edo Period to Meiji Period

Kuno'spotterylater becamethe Kasama Domain's official pottery for the production of daily wares such as pots and mortars. Because of the close proximity to Edo, mass production was promoted and the number of pottery technicians and workers increased significantly. During the Meiji Period, Kasama was particularly known as a production center of coarse earthenware for kitchen utensils.

Postwar Period

In the postwar period, however, the influx of plastic products changed people's lifestyles drastically. The demand for Kasama-yaki decreased and potterieswere plunged into their worst crisis ever. Under such circumstances, the Ibaraki Kenritsu Yogyo Shidojo (Potter Training School), the Pottery Industrial Park, and the Kasamayaki Cooperative were established and—through trial and error under public and private cooperation—Kasama-yaki successfully changed its output from coarse earthenware kitchenwareto craftworks.

Recent years

In 1992, Kasama-yaki was designated a traditional craft and in recent years its historically nurtured traditionshave been combined with new techniques to develop "Kasama-kaki," producing new heatproof products such as casseroles and ceramic tiles. Currently, Kasama is one of the major production centers of pottery with about 300 ceramic artists and pottery producers.

Kuno Touen—The pottery that gave birth to Kasama-yaki

Kuno TouenA light wind from a bamboo grove blows gently through Kuno Touen, which is the oldest of the Kasama-yakipotteries and which is situated near Prefectural Road No. 1 connecting Kasama and Mashiko. During the An'ei Era (1772-80) of the mid-Edo Period, Han-emon-michinobu Kuno, who aspired to create an industry in Hakoda Village (now Hakoda Town in Kasama City), started the history of Kasama-yaki by building a potteryunder the guidance of Chouemon, an itinerant potter from Shigaraki. Hence, Kasama-yakifollows the style of Shigaraki-yaki.

History of Mashiko-yaki

It is generally accepted that Mashiko-yaki was born whenKeizaburo Otsuka built a pottery after being trained in Kasama at the end of Edo Period. Since then, the production of excellent porcelain clay and its proximity to the big market of Tokyohave contributed to its development as a production center of daily utensils such as bowls, jars, and teapots.

Currently, there are about 250 potteries and 50 pottery shopsin Mashiko. Many ceramic artists with different styles, both young and veterans, own their potteries here. Annual ceramic bazaars are held in spring and autumn.

Beauty of usage

In 1924, Shoji Hamada moved to Kasama. He promoted the mingei (folk craft) movement there together with Muneyoshi Yanagi, who paid attention to the beauty of usage, and at the same time had a significant influence on local artisans. Mashiko-yaki eventuallytook on the aspect of "artwork."

Negoya Kiln—The pottery that gave birth to Mashiko-yaki

Negoya KilnJonaizaka Street, lined with galleries, is the main street of Mashiko. A short distance from the crowded street, close to a mountain, is the oldest Mashiko-yaki pottery named Negoya Kiln. There are many places called Negoya in eastern Japan, and the name indicates settlements where castles of the ruling families were built during the middle ages. In this tranquil location overlooking a small hill and the countryside, a pottery was built in 1852, marking the beginning of Mashiko-yaki. The founder,Keizaburo Otsuka, began making potteryon his own based on the Kasama-yaki techniques he had learned at Kuno Touen.
 This clearly shows that Mashiko-yaki has its roots in Kasama-yaki. Three years later,Otsuka's potterybecamethe Kurobane Domain's pottery. Under the protection of the domain, potters were invited to Mashiko and full-scale production started.Since the clay in Mashiko is rough and sandy with poor viscosity,Mashiko-yaki is rather thick and this in turn produces a warm rustic appearance. From the beginning, local potters have produced everydayutensils for common people, including earthenware pots and teapots, sake bottles and lipped bowls.

The launch of pottery making was not Keizaburo's only achievement. Learning from Negoya Kiln, more and more potteries were created in surrounding areas, and this caused a shortage of potters. At that time, potters usually traveled around Japan, looking for better jobs. For this reason, Keizaburomade a direct appeal to the domain and proposed that potters' children and others be trained as potters to prevent them from leaving Mashiko.The proposal was greeted warmly and Keizaburo was appointed as the headman of the village. This episode indicates that he was a person with foresight and energy. Before long, it became possible to produce large amounts of quality pottery, and Mashiko-yakibegan to be transport by barge to Edo along the Kinugawa River, and its market graduallyexpanded.

In addition, during itssecond generation, Negoya Kilnalso began to function as a training school called Mashiko Touki Denshujo. The solid stone workplace was designed as a model factory and the arched entrance and the carved wooden doorcreateda modern atmosphere. Inside the workplace, we can see where there used to be a long narrow area with many potters wheels with apprentices studying side by side, and a line of large storage rooms where clay was kept.On the second floor is a glazing room with a thick beam overhead.The room was laid out for working efficiency so that the workers could have easy access to the climbing kiln.

Education was provided by Mashiko Touki Denshujo with an eye to the future, for example, by inviting teachers from Kansai to learnnew techniques. This continues to live on in the spirit of the Ceramic Technology Support Center of the Industrial Technology Center of Tochigi Prefecture. Currently, the pottery isrun bythe sixth and seventh generations of potters, parents and children, and their works of artas well as rare pottery from the time of the denshujo are on display in the gallery.

Negoya Kiln, the founding pottery, produced successors and contributed to the establishment and expansion of Mashiko-yaki. The cold stone warehouse seems to stand frozen in time, absorbing the buzzing noise of the people who come and go filled with ambition. Even today, its serene presence continues to watch over the continued development of Mashiko.


Kasamashiko Tourism Council
1357-1 Kasama, Kasama City, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan 309-1611
0296-72-9222