Continuing to protect the traditional techniques handed down from generation to generation - Ontayaki Yoichi Sakamoto Kiln -

What is Onta ware?

Ontayaki is a type of pottery produced in the Motoesarayama area in the mountains of Hita City, Oita Prefecture, and its history goes back over 300 years. In the production process, machines and electricity are not used as much as possible, and the production process has remained almost unchanged since ancient times.

Visit to Onta no Sato

History of Ontayaki

It is said that Nagamasa Kuroda, the lord of the Chikuzen domain, brought the Korean potter Hachizan (Japanese name: Hachizo Takatori) back to Japan when he dispatched troops to Korea. Opened a kiln in Takatoriyama, Fukuoka Prefecture, and his grandson Hachiro opened a kiln for Koishiwara ware. In the 18th century, the magistrate of Hita invited Sanuemon Yanase, a potter of Koishiwara ware, to Onta to pass down pottery techniques. At that time, Jubei Kuroki provided the capital and the Sakamoto family provided the land. The family names of the current nine potteries are Yanase, Kuroki, and Sakamoto, respectively. Because of this trend, Fukuoka's Koishiwara-yaki and Onta-yaki are also called sibling kilns.

In 1931, when the mechanization of pottery making was progressing, Muneyoshi Yanagi, the leader of the Mingei movement, Shoji Hamada, a potter, and Bernard Leach, an English potter, He introduced Ontayaki, which had been almost unknown until then, and became widely known to the world. In 1995, it was designated as a national “Important Intangible Cultural Property”.

A pottery satoyama that makes you feel as if you have traveled back in time to ancient times . The soothing sounds of the Karausu are resounding from here and there.

I went to Onta no Sato
hand mill

Karasu is a granulator that works on the principle of leverage using the flow of water. It seems that they were everywhere in pottery production areas a long time ago, but in Onta they are still working hard. When you enter Ontada no Sato, you can hear a low-pitched ``mo''~~” sound coming from somewhere. There are about 40 karasu in this small village, and the scenery of porcelain stone, which is the material of pottery clay, and glaze, seems to have entered the world of old tales.

Onda Karasu
Village of Sarayama in Ontada

The potter's clay collected in the surrounding area is dried, made into fist-sized pieces with a wooden mallet, and pulverized with a mortar for about 10 days to 2 weeks until it becomes fine particles.

I went to Ontayaki no Sato

The pottery is made on a family-by-family basis, with women mainly in charge of making the clay and preparing the glaze, while men are in charge of making the pottery. The potter's wheel is not electric, but a kick potter's wheel that is turned by foot. It seems that there is a limit of two kick potter's wheels per kiln.

Women's work is also based on traditional methods that do not use mechanical power as much as possible, so a very large amount of work and labor is required. For example, just to make soil, we add water to finely ground clay with a karusu, stir it many times, and then sift it. After that, the soil is dried in sunlight or on a kiln for drying, and the pottery clay is finally completed.

Onda no Sato
Kiln for drying Ontayaki no Sato

It seems that these preliminary preparations, including the production process, have been inherited almost as they are from the old methods. Another feature of Ontayaki is that it is handled solely by the family, without bringing in people from outside. Therefore, the production volume is inevitably limited.

Mr. Yoichi Sakamoto, who will be handling this time, is said to be about the 6th or 7th generation of his son Yoichi. (According to the owner, she doesn't know for sure.) The skill of Ontayaki is handed down from parent to child. It is not easy to create pottery while preserving traditional techniques, and it is said that about 60% of the pottery is lost.

Ontayaki Yoichi Sakamoto Kiln

The kiln is a climbing kiln with firewood. This day is just the day of burning. Work was done to raise the temperature of the kiln called ''Maedaki''.

Yoichi Sakamoto's kiln

Old wood is used for firewood to raise the temperature, and cedar is mainly used for firing. Work takes place overnight for about 30 hours. The climbing kiln with fire gives off a powerful presence like a living creature.

Ontayaki kiln

One of the features of Ontayaki, which has a rustic taste, is that there is no painting. A number of handed down techniques have been applied to create a unique style.

Tobi Kanna
A technique in which fine, continuous patterns are applied using a plane made of elastic metal. The planer makes the tools by hand using parts from old clockwork clocks.

Ontayaki flying plane container mail order
Ontayaki Flying Plane Vessels Mail Order

A technique in which a brush is used to continuously shade the potting soil. Onda clay has a high iron content, so the color becomes dull when fired.

Ontayaki Yoichi Sakamoto Kiln's Vessels Mail Order

Other major techniques include ``comb-drawing'' (a technique of drawing wavy patterns with a half-moon-shaped wooden comb-shaped tool), and `` uchikake'' (a technique of applying glaze vigorously to the work with a ladle. ), ``nagashi-gake'' (a technique of pouring paint over the work with an eyedropper or ladle), and ``finger-drawing''.

Only the amount of work to be produced is jointly carried out, such as removing soil from nearby mountains, and it has also been traditionally handed down that the name of the pottery is not included in the work, and that the work is made by the entire local pottery. It seems that there is The entire village cooperates as a community, and the power of nature, blessed with soil and water, and the warm taste of handicrafts preserve a unique style that is said to be "the best folk art in the world." It is a folk art vessel with the difficulty of not changing, preciousness, and pure beauty.

Ontayaki Yoichi Sakamoto's work is here
Yoichi Sakamoto pottery online sale

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