Monday, November 10, 2008
day 314 - Bizen - Pottery paradise
The potter's thumbprint.
We've waited a long time to visit Bizen, a village in Okayama prefecture famous for its pottery. The area has unique clay and consequently its pottery, which relies on its uniqueness of colour and absence of glaze.
Bizen is dominated by the small potteries and kilns - some of which have existed here since medieval times.
Unfired work. The local clay is high in iron. Most potteries stockpile their work and have only one or two firings a year.
The kilns, fuelled by local red pine, are generally built on the sides of hills so the heat draughts upwards for 5 days to two weeks, resulting in extraordinary temperatures and an almost metallic look and occasionally prized random distortion.
The incredible heat produced, plus the combination of secret organic elements (like straw and bark) results in remarkable colours.
Our friend Yoko stands amongst part of the amazing range of products from an annual firing.
The accumulated skill of many generations of ceramic artists plus the natural elements of fire and earth produce these masterpieces...