In the Koishiwara region (Toho Village) of Fukuoka Prefecture, a culture has existed since ancient times where local farmers fired everyday items such as clay jars and pots in kilns. In 1682, ceramic culture was introduced to this area when the lord of Fukuoka Domain invited some Imari ceramicists to come and impart their techniques, thus realizing the foundations for today's Koishiwara ware. In 1931, members of a folk art movement reappraised the value of Koishiwara ware, which resulted in wider recognition of this local ceramic art form throughout Japan. During the folk art and ceramics boom of the mid-20th century, Koishiwara ware became a much-loved example of Fukuoka Prefecture's traditional crafts. Today, Koishiwara ware continues to delight with its simple and sturdy style that has not lost its rustic charm.
Characteristics of Koishiwara ware
Koishiwara ware is created using a technique whereby glaze is applied directly to the surface of unfired clay and then fired. This brings out the inherent feeling of the pottery alongside a rustic and warm quality. A number of distinctive techniques and patterns are used to decorate Koishiwara ware. These include: tobikanna (chatter marking), hakeme (brush marking), kushime (comb patterns), nagashikake (glaze pouring at regular intervals) and uchikake (splash patterns).
Implements and techniques born from daily life
The decorative techniques employed for Koishiwara ware all have their origins in daily life. One such example is a traditional technique for rendering smooth curved lines directly onto vessels with one's fingers using engobes. Tools such as tonbo, used to gauge the size of the vessel, along with combs, brushes, planes and iron scraps are all utilized by the potters in a process of trial and error. These techniques and tools derive from simple wisdom for daily life. The concept of "the beauty of functionality" continues to form a key aspect of the potter's craft, which is based on the notion that the beauty of their creations is underpinned not by special techniques and tools, but by people's mindset to cherish handmade creations and use them in daily life.