Shigaraki-ware is one of Japan’s many ancient pottery styles that continues to dominate the market today. Among them, there are many unique pieces to add character to your dinner table that also tell a story about Japanese history and craftsmanship.
What is Shigaraki-ware?
Originating nearly 1,260 years ago, Shigaraki-ware is known as one of Japan’s prized forms of ancient pottery. The style, known to be one of Japan’s six “great kilns”, originated in the medieval period in the town of Shigaraki, Koka City, locatedalong the Daido River (Shiga Prefecture). Japanese potters in this region started crafting utilitarian pottery pieces and firing them in anagama kilns. Among these were mortars, vats, and jars used for storage.
The combination of the mineral-rich clays and unique wood-firing methods produced eye-catching reddish, brown, orange, and even gold-lustred pieces. With high plasticity, yet incredible strength, the clay in this region continues the yield the perfect moulding material. These earthy, artfully burnt pieces were one of the original examples of the well-known wabi-sabi aesthetic.
As the tea ceremony emerged, and with it, tea culture, Sigaraki-ware became one of the most famous pottery staples for teaware. With time, this evolved to include a wide range of household kitchenwares, such as sake bottles and miso jars. In the early 20th century, Hibachi charcoal braziers quickly became the most in-demand Shigaraki-ware product on the market.
Today, one of the most well-known Shiragaki-wares is the “Tanuki”. This iconic Japanese raccoon dog is a popular ornamental ceramic figurine that can be seen outside of homes, restaurants, and businesses all over the country. The Tanuki is thought to bring different types of good fortune, symbolized by eight specific features on its body.
Shigaraki-ware coffee mugs
Coffee mugs are another common and widely used Shigaraki-ware that continues to be popular today. Since the influence of the tea ceremony on Shigaraki-ware culture during the Muromachi (1338-1573) and Momoyama (1573-1603) periods, coffee mug styles continue to preserve the craft, as well as the classic wabi-sabi aesthetic.
Golden Floral Coffee Cup
This seemingly simple coffee mug is in fact a gorgeous preservation of the ancient Shigaraki-ware technique that would result in a burnt, warm, gold lustre on the pottery. The gentle flower designs and matching saucer make it the perfect tableware to impress your guests with during dessert.
As one of the first items that were made using the ancient Shigaraki-ware technique, bowls provide an excellent snapshot into the history of this pottery style. The raw, earthy designs take us back to the medieval era, evoking the connection with nature that made their creation possible.
Shagaraki-Ware Hechimon Bowl
Hechimon is a word used by Shigaraki craftsmen to describe the intricate connection with nature that inspires the raw shapes used to make tableware such as this one. This Hechimon bowl, with its earthy color and natural grooves, preserves the close relationship to natural elements that was prevalent during these early times.
Shigaraki-ware Crystal Rotana Mini Dish
This miniature bowl will surely stand out on any table. Its silver luster finish evokes the shiny finish that would result from the very first Shagaraki-ware’s rich clay composition and wood-firing techniques. The thin, wavy lip resembles the delicate nature of a flower, drawing from nature’s beauty in true Hechimon fashion.
SHIGARAKI Ware Quail Bowl
This bowl clearly borrows its unique aesthetic from the natural look of a quail egg. The brownish spots on beautifully glazed white pottery are also a perfect example of wabi-sabi style preservation. A wide-mouth design makes it the perfect bowl for presenting a wide variety of side dishes or desserts.
Shigaraki-ware plates are another great way to show off this ancient pottery style to your family, guests, and clients. Because of the ancient techniques still used to this day, many Shigaraki plates will stand out among your average tableware, serving as pieces of art all on their own.
Shigaraki-ware Crystal Small Plate
This small pottery plate is another gorgeous display of the classic Shigaraki-ware luster-finish. The minimal design and subtle natural grooves are reflective of the Hechimon style venerated by Shigaraki craftsmen. Use this plate to serve small side dishes to impress your dinner guests.
Shigaraki-ware Crystal Plate
This crystal plate is a unique, abstract plate that really takes you back to medieval Japan, where this pottery style was born. Shiny luster, warm earthy tones, and raw edges preserve the traditional Shigaraki craft. Perfect to be used as a presentation piece for small dishes and special occasions.
Shigaraki-ware Miniature Raspberry Plate
This miniature plate is designed with an abstract “raspberry” design that speaks to the themes of nature, blossoming, and abundance in Japan at that time. It can be used as a side dish or for presenting small pickled foods or desserts.
Since the early days of Shigaraki-ware, cups continue to be one of the most popular and in-demand pieces from this ancient pottery style. From sake cups to tea cups and water cups, here are some of the most impressive Shigaraki-ware cups on the market today:
SHIGARAKI Ware Cup
Sake bottles and cups are one of the oldest uses for Shigaraki-ware. This gorgeous sake set includes a pouring vessel and a small cup for enjoyment. A gorgeous blue glaze is used to highlight the incredible Shigaraki craftsmanship
Shigaraki-Ware All-Purpose Cup
With a volume of 340mL, this Shigaraki-ware cup can be used for a wide range of beverages, from tea to water. The horizontal striations are another classic example of wabi-sabi design, evoking the Hechimon style that is so reminiscent of natural elements. With a fancy box included, this cup is a wonderful gift idea!
Despite its medieval origins, Shigaraki-ware continues to be a popular Japanese pottery style to this day. On Super Delivery, you can find hundreds of different Shigaraki-ware, such as plates, cups, bowls, and more.
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