Kyo-yaki (Kyoto pottery) (京焼)

Kyo-yaki is a type of Japanese pottery. It is a generic name given to pottery made in Kyoto, such as Awataguchi-yaki (Awataguchi pottery) and Omuro-yaki (Omuro pottery). Most Kyo-yaki ceramics are made with an overglaze painting technique in which figures are painted on burned pottery, resulting in special characteristics that make the originality of each ceramist come across clearly in his or her work.

The origin of Kyo-yaki
Recent research insists that Kyo-yaki had already began being produce during the early Keicho era at the end of the 1590s. Although there are still many questions left unanswered about Kyo-yaki ceramics produced around that time, it is notable that most pieces of such pottery were burned at a moderate temperature with lead glaze and made with various techniques and designs.

Before this period, there were many pottery wholesalers around Sanjo, Kyoto, but they produced only a small amount. Before the Tensho era, however, Chinese potters and their successors, who had techniques such as sansai (a three-color glazed pottery technique) and the Cochin ware technique, had already started manufacturing pottery during the middle of the 16th century. The distinguishing feature of their pottery was a cold colored glaze, such as green, purple, navy-blue, and yellow, and it is thought that this is where Oshikoji-yaki (Oshikoji pottery) was derived from.

The beginning of polychrome pottery
At the beginning of the 17th century, the production of tea pottery, such as tea bowls and tea leaf containers, increased as the art of the tea ceremony became more popular. Specifically, Seto-yaki (Seto pottery), Mino-yaki (Mino pottery), and Karatsu-yaki (Karatsu pottery) craftsmen made copies of Goryeo tea bowls, taking advantage of their techniques. The discovery of clay that was good for pottery called Korodani-tsuchi (Korodani clay) was found in Yamashiro Province, accelerating the manufacture of ceramics.

One of the oldest categories of Kyo-yaki called Awataguchi-yaki (also known as Awata-yaki) had already began being produced in the Awataguchi district in the Kanei era. In this area, they manufactured copies of Chinese tea bowls and Tenmoku tea bowls (bowls with a wide brim and a narrow base used during tea ceremonies). Yasaka-yaki (Yasaka pottery) and Kiyomizu-yaki (Kiyomizu pottery) are almost as old, and it has been confirmed that Yasaka-yaki existed in 1640 and Kiyomizu-yaki appeared no later than 1643. After these types of pottery came Mimuro-yaki (Mimuro pottery), Mizorogaike-yaki (Mizorogaike pottery) and Shugakuin-yaki (Shugakuin pottery).

In a description about a tea party in which Sowa KANAMORI participated in on June 23, 1650, painted Mimuro-yaki is mentioned. Within the next two years, Ninsei NONOMURA made the first Mimuro-yaki with a reddish color paint. This was the first and only example of a successful piece of earthen pottery with a reddish color paint in the 17th century aside from Arita-yaki (Arita pottery), which was the first Japanese porcelain, since reddish color paint requires a delicate glaze compound and burning.

In and after the 18th century

Although his son took over his work after Ninsei NONOMURA passed away, he eventually withdrew from ceramics due to a lack of skill. However, Kanzan OGATA, who learned pottery techniques directly from Ninsei, produced many excellent pieces of pottery. Additionally, many skilled potters such as Hozen EIRAKU and Wazen EIRAKU appeared from the Eiraku family after Ryozen EIRAKU, and this family has been making tea equipment for the Senke (House of Sen) ever since.

Eisen OKUDA is a very significant person in terms of pottery production techniques. He made the first Kyo-yaki porcelain, and Mokubei AOKI and Dohachi NINNAMI continued his legacy, making many porcelain pieces.

After the Meiji Restoration, the demand for tea pottery rapidly dropped as Japanese society and culture changed, leading to many potters giving up their professions. A number of potters participated in business organizations, such as Nippon Toki Gomei Kaisha (Nippon Toki Co., Ltd.), currently known as Noritake Co., Ltd., supporting development of techniques of the company.