KOKA CITY, SHIGA
Shigaraki, as one of Japan’s Six Ancient Kilns, is one of the oldest pottery producing town in Japan. Since it is near Kyoto and Nara, where the tea ceremony was born, Shigaraki tea ware developed naturally. With rich deposits of high quality clay, Shigaraki was an ideal location for potters as well. Shigaraki became the Imperial capital for a few months in the year 745, but the Imperial court moved after the palace was burned down in a forest fire.
One more curious thing about Shigaraki is that everywhere you look there are odd-looking pottery raccoons known as "Tanuki". There seems to be a number of interesting stories about these Tanuki. For example, once when the emperor visited the town the local people were concerned that they were too few in number to provide a rousing welcome for their illustrious guest, so they got the idea of lining up hundreds of tanuki on the sides of the road. apparently it was well received by the emperor.
Shigaraki ware is characterized by its distinctive form brought by the wood firing; the reddish-orange color from oxidation of iron in the clay, natural ash glaze acquired from the deposit of ashes in the kilns, and “Koge (Burn)”, the result of being buried under embers during firing. The color of the fired clay depends on the placement in the kiln, the circulation of the flames, the temperature, the amount of oxygen and the composition of clay. Rustic surface caused by inclusion of fine stone particle such as a piece of quartz, feldspar or silica is also characteristic of Shigaraki ware.
Shigaraki ware available at b. benten: