Shigaraki Ware

Shigaraki Ware_1

Biwa Lake is the largest lake in Japan both in size and in volume of water. Shiga citizens and the prefectural government are particularly conscious about the environment. Shiga prefecture has thus naturally attracted many environmental related corporations and human resources.  As a result, Shiga Prefecture is known to be one of most environment friendly places in Japan.

Shiga prefecture has easy access from surrounding regions, which has helped to develop its merchant philosophy: “There must be value for the seller, buyer and public.” In other words, it is important that business be not all about the profit for the seller. The customers must be satisfied as well and each business must bring wealth to the community, promoting the general welfare of the people as a whole.

Shigaraki ware is mainly made in Shigaraki, Koga city, Shiga. It has a warm fire color that it gets from the good soil in the nearby hills. Natural soil compositions and chemical reactions give the pottery blue and yellowish tones as well as a unique finish. Shigaraki attracts fans who appreciate an earthy art created by people, soil and fire.

In addition, the Tanuki (raccoon) is a symbol of Shigaraki ware.

This is a special good luck statue! “Ta” means other(s) and “nuki” is surpass. Combined together, it means, “I am better than them!” So if you like to win, Tanuki is the animal you need on your side! He is plump and wears a straw hat, his head is slightly tilted, and he carries around a bottle of sake with him. He is an adorable creature often seen on the front porch of homes and the entrance to restaurants in statue form.  Tanuki come in all sizes, including some that fit in your palm, and human sized ones as well!

It is said that pottery artist Fujiwara (1876-1966) created the original Tanuki statue. Therefore, it is relatively a new tradition. In 1951, When the Showa Emperor visited Shigaraki, the local people placed Tanuki statues with a Japanese flag along the street welcoming him. He was so delighted at the scene that he read a poem in front of the entire town. This event was broadcasted, and as a result, Shigaraki-ware became an instant sensation in Japan. Tanuki will welcome all visitors who come to Shigaraki. In fact, the Tanuki population exceeds the human population in this quirky place!


Photo by Biwako Visitors Bureau

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