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About Mashiko ware

About Mashiko ware

Mashiko Town, located in the southern part of Tochigi Prefecture, has developed as a pottery production area since the end of the Edo period by producing everyday tools.

In 1924, Mr. Shoji Hamada (first recipient of the Living National Treasure in 1955) moved there and began to appreciate it as a work of art.

In 1926, Mashiko ware attracted attention and became known throughout the country due to the ``Mingei Movement'' advocated by Soetsu Yanagi and others who believed that there was beauty in everyday tools created by unknown craftsmen. Masu.

The thick glaze and chubby appearance of the pottery can be said to be a characteristic of Mashiko ware.

Today, it is a major pottery producing area, and Mashiko ware in a wide variety of styles is used at dining tables across the country.

History of Mashiko ware

The beginning of Mashiko ware

Mashiko ware is a type of pottery produced mainly in Mashiko Town, Tochigi Prefecture.

Keizaburo Otsuka, who is said to be the founder of Mashiko ware, opened a kiln in Mashiko at the end of the Edo period, and the pottery industry developed, and in 1979 it was designated as a national traditional craft.

Keizaburo Otsuka was born in Mogi Town, a town next to Mashiko, and as a boy, he lived in Hakoda, Kasama City, Ibaraki Prefecture, and was educated at a temple school. At that time, pottery was already being produced in Kasama, and it is said that Keizaburo learned about kiln management, as well as production techniques and firing techniques.

Afterwards, he moved to Mashiko as the adopted son-in-law of Heibei Otsuka from Mashiko and engaged in farming. While living in Mashiko, he discovered that the soil of Otsuzawa in Mashiko was suitable for making pottery, and after much trial and error, he built a kiln on a hill in his garden. However, the use of the kiln was initially prohibited by the government due to the danger of fire.

During the Edo period, Mashiko was a territory of the Kurobane clan, and the Kurobane clan's Mashiko office allowed and encouraged the construction of kilns in Negoya, where there was little risk of fire. This is said to be the beginning of Mashiko ware.

The ceramic industry flourished due to the production of daily necessities.

The oldest pottery excavated in Mashiko is Jomon pottery. In addition, the ruins of kilns dating from the late Nara period to the Heian period have been discovered, and it is said that the culture of pottery manufacturing had taken root in Mashiko even before Keizaburo Otsuka opened the Mashiko ware kiln. It is considered.

The reason why Keizaburo Otsuka's opening kiln is said to be the beginning of Mashiko ware is that Keizaburo's kiln was the first official kiln of the Kurobane clan. Mashiko ware was placed under the control of the Kurobane clan as a monopoly product to earn foreign currency.

The products baked during this period were mainly daily necessities and kitchen utensils such as bottles, mortars, pots, katakuchi, sake bottles, plates, and Yukihira pots. The products from the kiln are delivered to the Kurobane domain's Mashiko Jinya (magistrate's office), where they are packed in straw and transported by horse-drawn carriage to Kinugawa. From there, it was transported by sea to the Edo market.

In this way, the production of Mashiko ware gradually increased due to the financial support and protection of the Kurobane clan.

Export overseas

In the early Meiji period (1870s), there were 20 potteries, most of which were engaged in pottery in addition to farming.

In the 1890s, as the pottery industry stabilized, the number of pottery manufacturers increased.
Around this time, exports to other countries began, especially to the United States, which accounted for one-third of all exports, but trust was lost due to overmanufacturing due to increased production, and exports are said to have ceased. It is.

Another cause is that in the United States, the penetrating and water-absorbent fabrics unique to pottery were treated as damaged items.

Lifestyle changes and Mashiko ware

In 1903, the Mashiko Ceramics Association was established, pottery technicians were invited from Aichi Prefecture, and the Mashiko Ceramics Training Center was opened, leading to an increase in the production of Mashiko ware.

In the Taisho era, Tokyo switched from charcoal to city gas, and Mashiko ware, which had been used as everyday kitchenware, could not withstand the high temperatures of gas and began to crack, and metal It can be replaced by a pot etc.

Furthermore, with the spread of strained miso, the use of mortars ceased, and with the spread of glass products, the production of Mashiko ware decreased.

In 1920, production of Mashiko ware slowed to such an extent that there is a record that production was stopped for one month starting in August.

Meanwhile, the Great Kanto Earthquake that occurred on September 1, 1923 brought an unexpected boom to the production of Mashiko ware. Demand soared as people who lost kitchen utensils in the earthquake bought Mashiko ware.

Visit of Shoji Hamada

In 1924, Shoji Hamada returned from England and came to Mashiko.

At that time, Mashiko ware was mainly produced as kitchen utensils, and wholesalers who distributed the products lent capital to potteries, so potteries were not able to freely produce pottery.

Being a wholesaler also had the advantage of allowing the pottery to concentrate on making products without having to deal with inventory management or sales. Because this kind of structure had taken root in Mashiko, conservative wholesalers treated Shoji Hamada as a heretic for trying to make crafts other than kitchen utensils, and refused to do business with potteries that tried to learn from Hamada. There was also pressure.

Hamada, who settled in Mashiko, moved twice, got married, and gradually integrated into Mashiko, and in 1930 he moved a farmhouse from a nearby village and built a residence and kiln. This is the birth of the first Mashiko ware pottery artist.

From daily necessities to crafts

As time passed, more and more potters learned from Hamada, and the shape of Mashiko ware gradually changed.

In 1928, about half of the production became crafts, and Shoji Hamada said that ``Mashiko ware was promoted from the kitchen to the tokonoma.''

In 1929, Mashiko ware fell into a severe recession due to the effects of the Great Depression. Demand for handicrafts declined, and the production of practical drinking utensils became the focus. In addition, metal products were delivered during the Pacific War, and demand for Mashiko ware as a substitute for these products increased. In addition, in order to cooperate with agricultural development during the war, clay pipes and other items needed for rice field maintenance were made in Mashiko.

In Mashiko, production continued without turning off the kilns even during the war, and from the 1960s onwards, the name became known around the world.

Development as a tourist destination

In 1966, the ``Mashiko Ware Pottery Cooperative Sales Center'' was established and the Mashiko Pottery Fair was held. Coupled with the folk craft boom, the number of people visiting Mashiko increased, and gradually it began to take on the role of a tourist destination rather than a production area.

In 1977, part of Shoji Hamada's residence was renovated and the ``Shoji Hamada Memorial Mashiko Reference Museum'' was opened. Crafts collected by Shoji Hamada during his lifetime are still on display.

1993 "Mashiko Ceramic Art Museum Ceramics Messe Mashiko" opened. In 1996, Tatsuzo Shimaoka was recognized as a Living National Treasure (holder of important intangible cultural properties).

The future of Mashiko ware

Mashiko ware has a history of about 170 years, which is relatively short compared to other ceramic production areas such as Seto, Shigaraki, and Arita, but due to its location near Edo compared to other production areas, it has a special ceramic production area. Development and cultural promotion will progress.

Mashiko ware has changed over time, from the clan's official kiln to the private kiln, and from daily necessities to works of art, giving Mashiko a unique culture that is different from other production areas.

Currently, it is a major production center for Japan's ceramic industry, with approximately 350 kilns, and people can enjoy traditional Mashiko ware and pottery with rich styles.