Koishiwara-yaki is a traditional and functional pottery, named after Koishiwara city in Fukuoka, Kyushu. The pottery dates back to Japan’s early Edo period (1603-1868). At that time the Kuroda clan’s feudal lord invited pottery craftsmen from Imari to produce fine porcelain and pottery goods. In its early days, Koishiwara pottery was a luxury product bought mainly by feudal lords and wealthy families.
Then, at the beginning of the 18h. century, local pottery makers began creating ceramics that were practical yet distinctively designed. These style elements became widely known and remain a staple of Koishiwara’s aesthetic to this day.
By 1927 the main ceramics produced by Koshiwara were items for daily use: sake cups, flower vases and tea containers. After World War 2, the demand for production of Koishiwara ceramics grew due to supply shortages and need for quality, endurable goods. At the 1958 World Fair in Brussels, Koishiwara ware won first prize and received praise for its tagline: yu no bi: the Beauty of Function.
This phrase was an integral part of the Mingei folk art preservation movement. Yanagi Muneyoshi, the movement’s founder, believed that true beauty is found in everyday utility items and was thus particularly taken by Koishiwara ware.
The beauty and simplicity of Koshiwara can be experienced each year at Toho’s Village’s Koshiwara Pottery Festival. This pottery lovers event is held twice annually in both spring and autumn and is part of a 400 year old tradition. Discounted pottery from each studio and local produce is available for purchase. Festival-goers can also participate in ceramic workshops and enjoy expert demonstrations.
Photo Credit: Fukuoka Prefecture