Ceramics (yakimono) can be divided into two main types by material: earthenware/stoneware (tōki), which is predominantly made from soil-based clay, and porcelain (jiki), which is made from mineral-based clay. The materials are mixed with water to produce clay. The resulting clay is formed into dishes, pots, vases, or other items that are then fired at high temperatures in a kiln. Japan’s ceramic traditions developed in accordance with the clay of each region, and as a result, many of the crafts bear the name of the region where they were made.


  • 1 Clay preparation

    Quality soil or stone is gathered and made into clay.

  • 2 Shaping

    A potter’s wheel is used to shape round dishes, pots, and vases. Other common methods include hand-layering coils of clay to create forms or hand-building three-dimensional objects from thin slabs of clay.

  • 3 Bisque firing

    Unglazed pieces of pottery are fired at temperatures between 600℃ and 950℃ , which hardens them and makes them easier to glaze.

  • 4 Glazing

    The surface of the pottery is coated with a glaze that vitrifies when fired, producing a layer of glass over the piece.

  • 5 Kiln firing

    The length of time and temperature of firing varies depending on the type of clay and the glaze applied. After the piece has been fired and hardened, it is complete.

Artistic Techniques

  • Reference: Nihon Kōgeikai Higashi Nihon Shibu (Japan Kōgei Association Eastern Branch), ed., Dentō kōgei-tte nani? – miru, shiru, tanoshimu gaido bukku (What Are Traditional Crafts? –A Guidebook to Seeing, Learning, and Enjoying). Unsodo, 2013.

Well-known crafts