I went to the Mino area with their famous pottery of Shino, Oribe, Yellow Seto “Kiseto”, and Seto Black “Setoguro.
The Mino area is a little northwest of Kyoto, near Nagoya, with its center of Toki city and Tajimi city. They manufactured pottery of representative ceramics for the tea ceremony, “Chado”.
In the early Momoyama era (1573-1615) Setoguro and Kiseto appeared. Setoguro, means Black Seto glaze and was a special variety of iron glaze. Only used for teabowls, the teabowl was pulled out of the kiln at peak temperature and cooled rapidly for the color to turn black. Kiseto, Yellow Seto derives this basic color form wood ash glaze made from plants and is used for various types of ceramics associated with the tea ceremony.
Kiseto Teabowl from the Momoyama period
It is impossible to draw a clear line between Shino ware and Oribe ware, though one may say that the primary Shino glaze is feldspathic, while Oribe ware is known for its use of copper green and iron brown. But nowadays they make a distinction in the two wares.
Oribe is mainly green, but there are many kinds. It also refers to Furuta Oribe, warrior and one of the great teamasters, together with Takeno Joo and Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591). Sen no Rikyu refined the teaceremony “Chado”. The oldest kiln where Oribe was fired is the Motoyashiki kiln at Kujiri, Toki city. This was the first multi chamber kiln introduced to Mino from Karatsu in early 17 century.
An Oribe Teabowl from the Momoyama Period in
The Ceramic History Museum in Toki City.
Next, Shino ware is characterized by its snowlike thick white glaze with small pinholes. It was kind of rediscovered by Arakawa Toyozo, who is a “National Living Treasure” because of his exquisite Shino and Setoguro ceramics works. They said Shino ware was produced in Seto, but he found shards in Mino to prove that the Shino wares were fired around Toki and Tajimi City in the Mino area. His discovery set off a spate of kiln excavations, first by Rosanjin Kitaoji and Tokuro Kato. The pastures of Tajimi proved to be a treasure of valuable artifacts. Shino was the first white glaze in Japan and with iron brush drawings with an iron glaze made of “oni-ita”, a red clay rich in iron and manganese. The effect of flame in the kiln added distinctive fire marks. There had been no drawn ceramics in Japan until Shino came out.
Shino ware is the spirit of tea, the essence of pottery. It is the result of the flames of the kiln.
Arakawa Toyozo discovery of Shino shards in his own
Museum between Kani and Toki City.
Most of this information is taken form the Japanese Pottery Information Site e-yakimono.net by Robert Yellin: