Hon’ami Koetsu was a calligrapher and artist in the early Edo period. He was also well known as the leading tea master of the time.
Hon’ami Koetsu was born into a family of swordsmiths who created and sharpened swords in Kyoto. He showed talent in a wide range of fields including calligraphy, pottery, lacquer, publishing, architecture and landscape design.
He especially excelled in calligraphy and, along with Konoe Nobutada and Shokodo Shojo, he came to be known as one of the Three Brushes of the Kan’ei Era (Kan’ei no Sanpitsu) . He founded his own personal style known as Koetsu-ryu, developed from the Japanese calligraphy style.
Hon’ami is also credited with founding the Rimpa School in the field of painting, together with Tawaraya Sotasu and Ogata Korin. His works include Rakuyaki Kamigawa-chawan ceramic teacups and Funabashi Makie Suzuribako lacquer work- both of which are designated as National Treasures, and Tsurushitae-wakakan painting, designated as an Important Cultural Asset.
In 1615, Hon’ami began an artist community called Koetsu-mura or Koetsu village in Takagamine, north of Kyoto, in the land granted by Tokugawa Ieyasu. He developed his own artistic style further and was also believed to have supervised all the work there.
Obori-soma ware is the local pottery of Obori, Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture. In 1690, Sama, a servant of Hangai Kyukan, an Aima domain samurai, established this pottery.
The Soma domain encouraged pottery-making, so, by the end of the Edo period, there were about 100 kilns for the area.
Since the Meiji period, however, the number of kilns has decreased and now only 24 kilns are making pottery that follows this 300-year tradition. Obori-soma ware is pottery that has been loved by commoners since the end of the Edo period.
The ware mainly produced is 'blue crack', which features a cracked celadon-blue glaze. The vessels are double-layered to keep tea inside hot; the running-horse motif is painted by hand.
In 1978, Obori-soma ware was designated as a National Traditional Handicraft.
Yokkaichi Banko Ware is a traditional handicraft made in the city of Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture.
The name 'Banko Ware' derives from the mid-Edo period when the great merchant Nunami Rouzan placed his seal on the pottery with the words 'Bankofueki'. Because he was interested in the tea ceremony and in ceramics, the seal expressed his wish that his works would last forever.
The production of Banko Ware was suspended for a while after Rouzan's death, but started up once again in the late-Edo period. Today's Banko Ware in Yokkaichi is modeled on the early Meiji type of this ware and is produced following the techniques of that time.
The Yokkaichi Banko Ware kilns continue to produce distinctive ceramics that correspond to current trends. Some 70% of the earthen pots made in Japan are produced here at Yokkaichi. The place is also famous for producing teapots.
Yokkaichi Banko Ware is the representative local industry of Yokkaichi, and the craft has strong connections with the lives of the people. In 1979, Yokkaichi Banko Ware was designated as a traditional craftwork.
Headwaters' Forest (Genryu no Mori) was established for nature protection and human interaction and is located in Nishiokitama, Yamagata prefecture. The mountain area around Gosai, Iide and Asahi was designated as the Headwaters' Forest area and the district is supposed to be a forested arcadia of the 21st century.
'Let's go to a forest!'
You can feel soft sunshine, pure air and fresh wind on an adventure experience here. You can also make some original artwork by trying your hand wooden handicrafts, ceramics and sculpture in the Forest Studio. The studio is part of the Forest School, where parents and children can participate in 'studies' and stay overnight. You don't have to be parents or children to join in some of the other programs.
Headwaters' Forest is a place to 'interpret' nature and aspects of traditional Japanese culture.
Ootani ware is made near Ooasa in Naruto, Tokushima prefecture. It is the representative pottery of Shikoku.
Ootani ware was first made in 1780 by the artisan Monzaemon, who introduced the potter’s wheel to this valley as well as the craft of porcelain-making. He produced objects such as charcoal-extinguishers with this method. At that time, pottery was rare in the country of Awa. When the local clan lord came to hear of Monzaemon, he had a kiln constructed in Ootani. While dozens of kilns existed at one time, only eight remain today.
The most famous Ootani ware object is the large 'nerokuro', which is made by two people, one to form the shape and one to turn the pot. This vessel is believed to be the largest of its kind in Japan.
In 2003, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry designated Ootani ware as a traditional craft.