About Hagi ware (Hagiyaki), Japanese traditional pottery.
History of Hagi ware
Hagi is a quaint town situated in Yamaguchi Prefecture on the Japan Sea. The history of Hagi, as one of the most famous pottery areas in Japan, originates back in approximately 400 years ago. It was around the same time when the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by shogun) was established in 1604. The local feudal lord of Hagi area at the time, Terumoto Mouri, had appointed potters in a castle town of Matsumoto (Hagi city in present time) in order to ensure Hagi wares for his personal use and as gifts.
The potters in Matsumoto steadily increased their production so that more kilns were established in Fukagawa territory (Nagato city in present time) during the mid 17th century. The active production of Hagi ware continued throughout the Edo era.
However, due to the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the potters employed by the Lord Mouri were dismissed thus starting their own independent businesses. Gradually, with the flow of the times, more kilns were built outside of Hagi area such as in Miyano area of Yamaguchi city and also in other parts of the southwest region of Yamaguchi Prefecture.
Characteristics of Hagi ware
Among the other kinds of potteries in Japan, Hagi ware is distinguished for its earthy texture. It is due to the type of the local clay used to create Hagi ware called Kuchi-tsuchi.
One may feels a sense of calmness from viewing the softness of clay. Once holding, Hagi ware naturally fits into your hands with its gentle texture.
Regarding tea wares, there is a famous expression in Japanese that is “Raku first, Hagi second and Karatsu third”. This old tea adage indicates the rank of tea wares preferred in the use for tea ceremonies. It implies that the tea wares with distinguished characteristics of earthy feel and looks are most valued.
There are varieties of ways to define Hagi ware such as by the types of clay used, by its shape or by the color of glazing.
However, since the beginning of the Edo era up to today, the characteristics of Hagi ware changed through the times depending on the shift in demands of its users or due to the turns of historical events.
Even today, Hagi ware continue to evolve in a response to the demands of customers, to the sensitivity of the modern Hagi ware artists and to the change in the natural environment.
Though there are no strict rules for the definitions, the most significant point is that Hagi ware create a culture of the pottery through a simple appreciation for the touch, for the vision and for the feel toward pottery.
All the Hagi ware artists introduced in our website have the same hope that the potteries would be used in a customer’s everyday life.
It is also this company’s wish that our customers may enjoy their Hagi wares in a long term as decorations, tableware or in any methods that fit naturally in everyday life.
Tips for using Hagi ware
During use, you may notice that the color of Hagi ware’s surface is changed. It is because Hagi ware is slightly porous stoneware so that it absorbs the sake, or tea through tiny crackles. Please pay attention to the following instructions in order to avoid getting your wares molded.
・Soak the new Hagi ware in the water before use.
・After use, wash Hagi ware thoroughly by hands and dry it well before putting it away.
・Occasionally, you may find a leak from tea bowls or cups. If it continues to leak, please dry your Hagi ware and pour strong tea, Omoyu (the liquid after making rice porridge) or Funori (a type of seaweed. You can use it after boiling in water.).
・Since the ware sometimes has a rough foot-ring, we recommend using a cloth beneath when using it on lacquer ware.
・Do not use Hagi ware in a microwave or in an oven.