Rich in nature and resources, Koka is the southernmost city in Shiga prefecture. This area, in which Yamasho Touki is located, is the heart center of Shigaraki ware production.
The geology of the area has a unique history. The land where the city of Koka is situated was once submerged under a large lake. Over time, the lake shrunk and retreated northwards. This lake is known today as Lake Biwa, the largest freshwater lake in Japan. Over millions of years, sediments, bone deposits, and weathered silica-rich minerals were deposited into the depths of the ancient lake, creating a rich reservoir of clay.
It is this clay, along with the Koka ninjas and its location along the historical 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road, that shaped the history, heritage and culture of Koka City.
Moulding to the Everchanging Times
Shigaraki ware derives its name from the town of Shigaraki which is listed among the “Six Ancient Kilns of Japan.”
Shigaraki ware traces its origin back to the roof tiles of the imperial palace in the Tenpyo period (729-749). Since then, each period of history has had an influence on the evolution of Shigaraki ware. The Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1600) saw the rise of tea houses. During this time, Shigaraki ware production was centered around tea ware. In the Edo period (1603-1867), the advent of the noborigama (climbing kiln) made mass production of pottery possible and Shigaraki ware became readily available to ordinary people. In this period, production centered around everyday items such as water vessels and miso pots. When glazes came into the scene in the Meiji period (1868-1912), Shigaraki ware hibachis were produced. During the Showa period (1926-1989), items such as vases, plates and the round-bellied Tanuki figurines became popular.
Yamasho Touki has been a part of this history since the 1930s. Today, the local ton'ya wholesaler partners with over 80 pottery studios and artists, collectively working to not only preserve the ancient craft, but to mold it to suit the needs of modern day consumers in a fun and creative way.
Tablewares, Tea Sets and Tanukis
It is the firing process that makes or breaks the Shigaraki ware. When the clay is placed inside the kiln, many factors influence the quality of the pottery. The flames and humidity play a role in producing the warm, reddish-brown “hiiro” color. The ashes in the kiln could burn the clay to create the blackish-brown “koge” effect. These earth-tone colors, along with the gritty texture of the pottery, create the signature archaic and rustic feel of Shigaraki ware. Products offered by Yamasho Touki respect this traditional character of Shigaraki ware. However, they are also not afraid to try something new as they experiment with the colorful glaze and collaborate with other styles of pottery such as Kutani ware.
They have three original brands: Tsuchigoyomi, WaBe and Hangout. From interior decor, to umbrella stands, to vases, each piece in the Tsuchigoyomi brand is designed to enrich the space in which it is placed and to enhance the day to day life through the seasons. WaBe is a simple and modern tableware brand. Combining the Japanese word wabisabi and the English word to “be,” the products offered are more aligned with the traditional, earthtone aesthetic of Shigaraki ware. The boundary between the kitchen and the outdoors is being blurred with the brand, Hangout. Grill pans, donabe pots and rice bowls with lids are among some of the products offered. These minimalistic and simple cookware add joy to not only eating meals but also in the preparation of it.
Ranging from colorful tableware to monotone umbrella stands, unique lamps and cute owl figurines, the products of Yamasho Touki are all-encompassing when it comes to aesthetics and functionality.
Made for You
Shigaraki ware items produced by Yamasho Touki invoke a sense of nostalgia, peace and joy. Created by local potters and artists, each piece is an interpretation of how a historical, local craft could be playfully and smoothly integrated into your life.
Through day and night, the four seasons and your life, Shigaraki ware products by Yamasho Touki strive to enrich your home space, enhance the beauty of each season and inspire you in your day to day life.