Mino ware (Mino yaki in Japanese) is a type of Japanese pottery produced primarily in the towns of Tajimi, Toki, Mizunami, and Kani in eastern Gifu Prefecture. The large variety of pottery in Mino ware is a distinguishing feature. Mino ware does not have a single style, but rather over 15 different styles of pottery that have been designated as traditional handicrafts. Mino boasts the highest volume of ceramic production in Japan.
The history of mino ware
Mino ceramics have a 1,300-year history, with hard Sueki earthenware being fired in anagama kilns, an ancient style of mountainside kilns, during the late Kofun period of the 7th century in the Tono area of Gifu Prefecture. For centuries, Mino has been a center of ceramic manufacturing. It began producing high-fired Sue ware in the seventh century and yamajawan wares for everyday use between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries. Many popular pieces were being manufactured in Mino by the Momoyama era in the latter half of the sixteenth century. Since 1868, potters have been able to paint Mino ware with imported coloring pigments. New painting techniques for Mino ware, such as transfer printing and screen printing, were developed, and production expanded in scale. In 1978, Mino ware was designated as a traditional Japanese craft as a result of all of this development. Mino ware is the most widely made pottery in Japan today, accounting for more than 60% of all traditional Japanese tableware.
The characteristics of mino ware and it’s many design types
The sheer variety of Mino ware is one of its most distinguishing features. The word “Mino ware” applies to a total of 15 different styles of ceramics, all of which are considered typical Japanese crafts. We introduce three of the most common ones below.
Oribe ware is perhaps the most representative style of Mino ware. Oribe implements design elements that are notably richly colored, with blue, green, and copper glazes being commonly used design motifs. Oribe ware is recognized by its freely-applied glaze as well as its dramatic visual departure from the more somber, monochrome shapes. These shapes are often asymmetrical, embracing the eccentricity of a more randomized design, often incorporating deformed shapes. These shapes were achieved through the implementation of moulding as a technique, as opposed to working on a potter’s wheel. Oribe ware became prominent during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (16-17th centuries), exhibiting previously unseen creativity and being unique in its distorted appearance and dark green geometrical architecture.
Shino is another Mino ware style that emerged about the same time, was an innovative type of pottery since it was the first time potters tried incorporating designs to the pottery before applying the glaze. Hence, It is thought to be the first white pottery produced by the Japanese. Simple tableware was commonplace at the time, but Shino revolutionized the way patterns were drawn. These two characteristics, when combined, gave these types of mino ware a characteristically natural appearance. The style embraces a variety of colors depending on the temperature used to fire it, such as dark brown, red, or slate. Shino ware is common as vases, pots, sake bottles, large sake cups, and incense holders in addition to tea ware and equipment.
Kizeto is another notable style of mino ware that incorporates a more subtle and basic appearance through a warm yellow color. Kizeto is fired after being painted with an iron-based glaze. A copper-based glaze is used to create the dark green look. Tea ceremony instruments and ware, dishes, pans, bowls, and vases are all examples of Kizeto ware.
How to use Mino ware
Pictured above, you can see how Mino ware may be used as a base plate to accentuate the aesthetic of the surrounding atmosphere. Mino ware is an extremely versatile art form that is often considered the representative style of Japanese ceramics.
Where to Buy Mino Ware?
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