Kyoto is one of the popular cities in Japan, one that foreigners and Japanese love to visit numerous times. It takes several days just to visit the temples, shrines and other historical sites, but how about delving into Kyoto’s traditional pottery for a walk off the beaten track?
Kyo ware, another name for Kiyomizu ware, is pottery that was historically made at the foot of the famous Kiyomizu temple. However, the name is now used for all potteries made in Kyoto. In fact, the officially named “Kyo ware-Kiyomizu ware” was designated as one of the Traditional Crafts of Japan by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Its history began approximately 400 hundred years ago. Kyoto was the center of culture and the biggest economic market at the time, which led it to feature pottery from all over Japan. In the 16th century, tea ceremony became a very popular practice. As a result, Kyoto started producing various teacups (more like oversized mugs) and tools that were used for the tea ceremony. The cups and tools were presented to tea masters, noble and royal families, samurai lords and Buddhist monks at temples. These potteries were then used to entertain the aristocratic and intellectual elites who resided in Kyoto. Artists who acquired skills and methods from China and Korea evolved Kiyomizu ware to meet the demand of sophisticated and artistic tastes. As a result, Kiyomizu ware has a high degree of sophistication, with great variety and glamour. The artists pretty much custom make each item with either ceramic or clay, making it colorful or simple, and so on. There are so many varieties in Kiyomizu ware. These potteries are still handmade and hand painted in present times. As a result, the production is limited and they are hard to come by. It is rare to have the opportunity to see one, compared to the other traditional Japanese potteries.
However, since Kiyomizu ware has recently begun to be actively promoted in the overseas market, the odds may have improved a bit. If you can’t wait to see or buy one, please visit a town called Kiyomizuyaki-Danchi in Yamashina-ku, the east side of Kyoto. This area offers a nice assortment of traditional Kyoto’s arts and crafts, including Kiyomizu ware, and some beautiful scenery as an added bonus.
6-2 Kawatakimizuyakidanchi-cho Yamashina-ku Kyoto-shi Kyoto-fu
Kyoto Pottery Center
583-1 Yugyomae-cho Higashiyama-ku Kyoto-shi Kyoto-fu