Eversince Josuke Sugino first succeeded in creating a white, smooth porcelain ware in 1777, many potters have added their own unique touch to make Japanese pottery as interesting as we know it today. For Tobeyaki potters, the secret lies in the use of deep indigo designs called “Gosu-e.”
Beloved in its hometown of Tobe in Matsuyama city, Ehime prefecture, each piece of tobeyaki pottery is regarded as a priceless possession, which is tediously crafted for 42 hours or approximately 2 days! Although the process seems too much of a burden, tobeyaki potters have faithfully endured it to make sure that each piece passes the standards of excellence.
According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency and Ehime Overseas Cooperative Association, there are 11 steps involved in the making of Tobeyaki Pottery. Here’s your chance to give tobeyaki a try. Roll up your sleeves, and start the grueling yet fulfilling process of making tobeyaki.
1. Quarry the pottery stone.
2. Turn the stone into clay at a clay factory.
3. Massage the clay by machine to remove air.
4. Cast clay on wheel called “Rokuro.”
5. Shear, clean and buff up the mold while its damp.
6. Sun dry them.
7. Bake them for 8 to 10 hours in a kiln (oven) at 900 to 950 degrees Celsius.
8. Paint each ware by hand.
10. For the last time, bake the wares for 15-24 hours in a kiln at 1,200 degrees Celsius.
11. Use red, green and blue hues on the wares, and bake for 7 to 8 hours in a kiln at 800 degrees Celsius.
Once you get to see and hold the finished product, you can’t help but say that Tobeyaki pottery is certainly worth all the effort!
Japan International Cooperation Agency and Ehime Overseas Cooperative Association. “The Youth Invitation Program ’98 in Ehime: Philippines Education Group.” Itinerary. Traditional Culture: Tobeyaki Pottery. The Friendship Program for the 21st Century, Japan. 27 Jan. 1999.