Zeze-yaki Pottery (膳所焼)

Zeze-yaki Pottery is a pottery that is produced in Zeze, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture.
It is known as a famous tea bowl, one of Enshu Shichiyo (best seven kilns selected by Enshu KOBORI, a famous master of ceremonial tea.)
It is characterized as black-tone tetsuyu (glaze containing iron) and its simple and delicate style embodies a sprit of 'Kirei sabi' (rich beauty and refined simplicity), which Enshu held up.

In the early Edo period, Zeze-yaki Pottery was first produced under the patronage of Zeze Domain. Tadafusa ISHIKAWA, the lord of Zeze Domain was a good friend with Enshu KOBORI, a master of tea ceremony. With guidance from Enshu, Zeze-yaki Pottery earned a reputation and its chaire (tea container), mizusashi (water jug), and so on were appreciated as gifts for feudal lords. However, it was in flourish until Tadafusa's generation and was declined afterward. In the late Edo period, a merchant family 'Odawara-ya store' started a kiln of 'Bairin-yaki ware' but it was completely different from old Zeze-yaki Pottery.

In 1919, a local man Kenzo IWASAKI, who felt sorry for the extinction of Zeze-yaki Pottery built a nobori-gama (a stepped kiln) in his second residence, together with his friend and master painter Shunkyo YAMAMOTO, and reestablished the pottery. Iwasaki devoted his life to restoration of Zeze-yaki Pottery. Then, his efforts keep the fire in the kiln until now. Now people can see past works and buy present works at the Zeze-yaki Museum.