Iga ware comprises ceramic products made in the Iga City area of Mie Prefecture. Using local clay and traditional techniques, Iga ware carries a rich tradition that can be traced back to the Nara Period (710-794), featuring easy-to-hold shapes prized by tea masters and a natural, almost wild beauty actualized by the unique quality of the baked clay. Its beauty is one of a kind—untamed, shining and free.
The origins of Iga ware can be traced back some 1,200 years, when peasants in the area began to fire everyday items and agricultural tools. The quality of their products was so highly regarded at the time that there is a Nara Period record of Iga ware being offered to the prestigious Kotaijingu, one of the two primary buildings of the revered Ise-Jingu Shrine.
While production fell off in later years, during the Muromachi Period (1336-1573), a potter known as Jiro Dayu revived Iga ware, having such a profound effect that he is now regarded as the founder of its distinctive style.
During the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1573–1603), with the flourishing of wabi-cha (literally, “austere tea”—now known as tea ceremony), the unique and natural style of Iga ware grew in popularity. The fact that the military commanders of Iga Province (the western part of today’s Mie Prefecture) were also tea masters may also have had a strong influence on the development of the craft.
With the changing trends and styles of tea ceremony during the Edo Period, Iga ware again fell into decay. However, in the 18th century, craftsmen from Kyoto and areas such as Seto in northern Aichi Prefecture were invited to Iga to produce everyday items that made the best use of the area’s natural resources, thus laying the foundation of modern Iga ware. It was from around this time that Iga ware began to expand from the limited production of tea ware to a wider range of products such as earthen pots, yukihira (glazed earthenware pans with handles) and other tableware.
In addition to 3-million-year-old Iga clay, Iga ware incorporates a form of clay known as gaerome, which contains abundant coarse silica particles. When baked, the unglazed pottery is both porous and fireproof, making it excellent for cooking, as excess water can be absorbed from the ingredients to enhance the flavor of the dish.
Merging the Iga area’s rich natural resources with traditional designs, Iga ware is a craft that thoroughly reflects the essence of Mie.
Iga Traditional Ware Museum
169-2 Marubashira Iga City Mie Prefecture
Mita Iga City Mie Prefecture