Why On Earth Do They Call It Throwing - Japanese Ceramics

by Morgan Pitelka.

Below you will find rough definitions for a number of words commonly used in discussions of Japanese ceramics. I suggest using English equivalents whenever possible. If neccessary, give the Japanese term in italics with an English definition in parentheses.NOTE: Accent marks over vowels indicate long vowels. For example, the "ô" in "ôgama" indicates that the "oh" sound is two times longer than the normal "oh" vowel. Otherwise each syllable should be given equal weight.Sources include Louise Cort, Seto and Mino Ceramics (University of Hawaii Press, 1992); Louise Cort. Shigaraki, Potters' Valley (Kodansha,
1979); Sekai tôji zenshû [Catalog of world ceramics] (Shôgakukan, 1975); Penny Simpson, Lucy Kitto, and Kanji Sodeoka, The Japanese Pottery Handbook(Kodansha, 1979); Tôki daijiten [Great dictionary of ceramics] Tôki Zenshû Kankôkai, ed. (Gogatsu Shobô, 1980; reprint of 1934 edition); Richard Wilson, Inside Japanese Ceramics (Weatherhill, 1995)


  • Agano: Japanese ceramic ware produced in Fukuchiyama on the island of Kyushu (southern Japan, present-day Fukuoka Prefecture); begun by Korean potters in late 16th to early 17th centuries; easily confused with Karatsu ware; see "Takatori"

  • ame: amber glaze

  • anagama: sloping tunnel kiln; imported from China, first used in Japan around fifth century

  • Arita: Japanese porcelain ware produced in Arita on the island of Kyushu (southern Japan, present-day Saga Prefecture); location of discovery of first porcelain deposit in Japan, by Korean potters in 17th century; center of the porcelain industry in Japan

  • Asahi: Japanese high-fired ceramic ware produced in the city of Uji, south of Kyoto; originated in late 16th to early 17th centuries

  • Bizen: Japanese unglazed, high-fired ceramic ware produced in the city of Bizen (town of Imbe, present-day Okayama Prefecture); known for long firings in climbing kilns, with resulting heavy ash deposits and other effects; originated in 12th century

  • cha: tea

  • chadamari: "tea pool" in the bottom of a tea bowl

  • chadô: the way of tea

  • chaire: tea caddy; small container used to hold powdered tea (matcha)

  • chanoyu: the tea ceremony

  • chatô: tea ceramics

  • chawan: tea bowl

  • Echizen: Japanese unglazed, high-fired ceramic ware produced in Echizen domain (present-day Fukui Prefecture), influenced by the Sue wares of the Heian Period (794-1192)

  • fude: brush

  • gosu: natural cobalt, or asbolite

  • guinomi: sake cup

  • Hagi: Japanese high-fired ceramic ware produced in Hagi in southwestern Japan (present-day Yamaguchi Prefecture); famous for milky, white-glazed teawares; originated in late 16th to early 17th centuries with Korean potters

  • hakeme: slip brushing

  • hanaire: flower vase

  • haniwa: ceramic figurines produced during the 4th to 7th centuries, C.E.; these figurines marked the surface of above-ground tombs; see "kofun"

  • hebigama: snake kiln (also called "jagama")

  • Hizen: broad term for Japanese ceramics and porcelains produced in the Hizen domain on the island of Kyushu (present-day Nagasaki and Saga Prefectures) during the Tokugawa Period (1603-1868)

  • Iga: Japanese unglazed, high-fired ceramic ware produced in the Iga domain (present-day Mie Prefecture) beginning in the 16th century

  • ikebana: flower arranging

  • Imari: Japanese porcelain wares produced in Arita, named "Imari" after the port from which they were shipped to other Japanese cities, Southeast Asia, and Europe during the Tokugawa Period (1603-1868); see "Arita" and "Hizen"

  • jiki: porcelain

  • Jômon: coil/slab-built, cord-marked, low-fired ceramic wares of prehistoric Japan; first made on Japanese archipelago around 10,000 years
    ago

  • Karatsu: Japanese high-fired ceramic ware produced in Karatsu and surrounding areas on the island of Kyushu (southern Japan, present-day Saga and Nagasaki Prefectures); originated in 16th century with Korean potters

  • Kenzan: Japanese high-fired ceramic ware produced largely in Kyoto; founded by Ogata Kenzan (1663-1743) a poet, painter, calligrapher, and potter who specialized in elegant brushwork on ceramic forms; see "Kyôyaki"

  • ke-rokuro: kick wheel

  • ki-seto: "yellow seto"; Japanese high-fired ceramic ware; glaze is yellowish in color, perhaps began as an attempt to produce celadon glaze; originated in 16th century; see "seto"

  • ko: "old," "historical." Used as a prefix, as in Kogaratsu (old Karatsu ware), Koseto (old Seto ware) Koimari (old Imari ware), and so on.

  • Koishiwara: Japanese high-fired ceramic ware produced in Koishiwara on the island of Kyushu (southern Japan, present-day Fukuoka Prefecture); originated in Agano wares and Takatori wares in 17th century; see "Agano," Takatori," and "Onta"

  • Kutani: Japanese porcelain ware produced in the Kaga domain (present day Ishikawa Prefecture) beginning in the 17th century

  • Kyôyaki: "Kyoto ceramics"; Japanese high-fired and porcelain wares produced in Kyoto; originated in 17th century; see "Kenzan"

  • maki: firewood, pieces of wood

  • Mashiko: name of a town outside of Tokyo that has become famous as a folk-craft village, pottery community, and home of Hamada Shoji,

  • matcha: powdered green tea for the tea ceremony; see "sencha"

  • mingei: folk craft or folk art; the Folk Craft Movement (Mingei undô) was started by Yanagi Sôetsu (1889-1961; also Yanagi Muneyoshi)

  • Mino: Japanese high-fired ceramic ware produced in the Seto and ino domains (Gifu Prefecture); famous for production of shino, yellow seto, black seto, and oribe; originated in late 16th century

  • mishima: slip inlay

  • mizusashi: water jar; a lidded fresh water container used in the tea ceremony

  • neriage: patterned loaves of colored clays

  • nerikomi: marbling with colored clays

  • noborigama: multichambered climbing kiln; appropriated from Korea or China in early seventeenth century

  • ôgama: "great kiln"; wide, sloped, single-chamber kiln with side door; originated in Seto/Mino region in early 16th century

  • Ôhi: Japanese low-fired ceramic ware produced in Ôhi, near Kanazawa, in the Kaga domain (present-day Ishikawa Prefecture) by the Ôhi family; founded in 1666 by the potter Chôzaemon, a worker in the Raku workshop in Kyoto; wares (mostly tea bowls and other tea ceramics) are
    similar to those produced by the Raku family, but are famous for their amber (ame) glaze

  • Onta: Japanese high-fired ceramic ware produced in the town of Onta on the island of Kyushu (southern Japan, present-day Fukuoka Prefecture); origins in Agano wares and Takatori wares in 17th century; see "Koishiwara"

  • oribe: Japanese high-fired ceramic ware; this term (named after the tea master and warrior, Furuta Oribe, 1545-1615) has come to be applied to a wide range of ceramics; general characteristics include rectangular and circular shapes, use of clear glaze, white slip, underglaze brush work, and
    a dark green copper glaze; originated around 1600; see "seto"

  • Raku: Japanese low-fired ceramic ware produced in Kyoto by the Raku family; famous for tea bowls and food dishes for use in the tea ceremony; originated in the late 16th century; this term also applies to wares made by a wide variety of amateur and professional potters in the tea community

  • rokuro: wheel (for making pots); see kerokuro and terokuro

  • sake: a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from rice; this term also refers to alcoholic beverages in general

  • Sanage: a Japanese ash-glazed, high-fired ceramic ware produced in Sanage, Aichi Prefecture; inspired by Chinese celadons; originated around the 9th century; see "Tokoname"

  • sansai: three-color ware; originated in China aro and the 8th century, A.D.

  • sara: plate

  • Satsuma: a Japanese high-fired ceramic ware produced in southern Kyushu (southern Japan); originated in 17th century with Korean potters

  • seiji: celadon; loosely refers to a wide range of blue and green feldspathic glazed wares; originated in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1270), and spread throughout East and Southeast Asia

  • sencha: steeped tea (as opposed to the powdered tea of the tea ceremony); see "matcha"

  • Seto: Japanese high-fired ceramic ware produced in the Seto and Mino domains (Gifu Prefecture); famous for production of shino, yellow seto, black seto, and oribe; originated in late 16th century

  • seto-guro: black seto; Japanese high-fired ceramic ware; Japan's first truly black glaze, made when iron glazed pots were removed when red-hot; originated in late 16th century; see "seto"

  • Shigaraki: Japanese high-fired, unglazed ceramic ware produced in Shigaraki, Shiga Prefecture; famous for ash deposits and distinctive forms; originated around 12th century, spread from Tokoname and Atsumi

  • shino: Japanese high-fired ceramic ware produced in the Seto and Mino domains (Gifu prefecture); consists of a white, secondary clay body covered by a milky-translucent ash/feldspar glaze; the term eshino (picture shino) indicates wares with iron-oxide designs applied under the shino glaze; nezumi shino (grey shino) indicates wares with designs carved into an iron slip, with the entire piece covered in the shino glaze.

  • Sueki: high-fired ceramic ware produced in Japan by potters who immigrated from Korea (and possibly China?); originated around the 4th century, B.C.; led to the spread of high-fired ceramic production throughout Japan; early wares were not glazed, but blackened; later glaze technology
    arrived from Tang China, leading to the use of lead-based glazes on low-fire wares, and feldspar-based glazes on high-fire wares

  • sûyaki: bisque firing

  • Takatori: Japanese ceramic ware produced in Chikuzen domain on the island of Kyushu (southern Japan, present-day Fukuoka Prefecture); begun by Korean potters in late 16th to early 17th centuries; see "Agano"

  • takebai: bamboo ash

  • Tamba: Japanese ceramic ware

  • temmoku: Japanese term for a type of tea bowl produced in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279); known for a variety of black, brown, tan, and blue glazes, and a distinctive shape with a flaring mouth and narrow base; these tea bowls were also produced in Japan beginning in the Kamakura Period (1192-1336)

  • teppôgama: rifle kiln

  • te-rokuro: hand wheel

  • tôgei: ceramic arts

  • tôji: ceramics, clay

  • tôjiki: ceramics (literally ceramic and porcelain objects; see also jiki)

  • tôki: ceramics (specifically, ceramic objects)

  • tokkuri: bottle, flask: usually used to hold sake

  • Tokoname: a Japanese high-fired, ash-glazed ceramic ware produced in the region of Sanage, (present-day Aichi Prefecture); inspired by Chinese celadons; originated around the 9th century; see Sanage and Atsumi

  • tsubo: storage jar

  • yakimono: pottery

  • Yayoi: low-fired ceramic wares made on the Japanese archipelago during the period ca 300 B.C.E. to ca 300 C.E.; differentiated from Jômon ceramics on the basis of a finer-grained clay body, a smooth, thin, symmetrical, and less ornamented style, the aesthetic influence of cast metal, and the appearance of gendered production patterns

  • yunomi: tea cup
What is the difference between the following terms: yunomi, guinomi, chawan, senchawan, banchawan, and matchawan?
The basic problem is that three separate tea drinking traditions exist in contemporary Japan, and they do not employ the same labels for ceramics. This causes a great deal of confusion among foreign collectors and potters.

The most common tea tradition in Japan is not really a codified, organized tradition at all: the daily consumption of tea in almost every household in the country. On a daily basis, most Japanese drink steeped green tea (sencha), course tea (bancha), or some form of roasted tea (hojicha) or stem tea (kukicha). More and more also drink coffee, black tea with milk or lemon, or Chinese fermented tea such as Oolong tea. These distinctions are described in more detail in the introduction of my book Japanese Tea Culture. The point is, although most people drink these teas out of what we would call a “cup” in English, a variety of Japanese terms are used to describe these vessels, and they are not standardized in any way. The best term is probably “yunomi,” which basically means tea cup.

The second most important tea tradition in Japan is chanoyu, also referred to (particularly by practitioners) as Chado or Sado (homophones meaning “the way of tea”). This ritualized, performative tradition is the one most potters know something about, because it is the source of so many of the styles and aesthetic innovations that influence American and global ceramics today. Chanoyu practitioners drink powdered green tea from a medium to large bowl. These are NOT cups: they are distinctly shaped liked bowls.
The third tea tradition in Japan is sencha or “steeped tea.” This tradition became popular in the 18th century, when a small group of Japanese artists and intellectuals appropriated literati customs from China and invented a tea-drinking ritual to rival chanoyu. The vessels in this tradition are called “chawan” or “meiwan,” but are often smaller than chanoyu’s tea bowls and look more like cups.

  • Yunomi (literally “[for] drinking hot water”): tea cup, usually taller than wide and smaller in diameter than the smallest of tea bowls. Often mistakenly called “tea bowl” by American potters.

  • Guinomi (literally one gulp): a small cup, often wide with a narrow base, used exclusively for drinking sake. Sometimes imitates the shape of a tea bowl.

  • Chawan (literally tea bowl): a small to medium sized bowl used for drinking hot tea (usually powdered green tea or “matcha”). Historically, shapes were limited to the following forms: conical (like temmoku tea bowls imported to Japan from China, and their Japanese reproductions); half-cylindrical (the vertical walls are not as tall as the bowl’s diameter); and cylindrical (the vertical walls are taller than the diameter of the bowl).

  • In Japanese, tea practitioners frequently refer to more than 26 different shapes of tea bowls, but these are difficult to translate into English and not very meaningful in a non-chanoyu cultural context.
The important fact to note is that historically, most tea bowls were not smaller than 9 cm and not larger than 14 cm in the diameter of the mouth.

  • Senchawan (bowl for steeped tea): Chinese literati-style steeped tea drinking became very popular in Japan in the 18th century and continues to have a small following in contemporary Japan. To learn more about Sencha, see Pat Graham’s book Tea of the Sages: The Art of Sencha.

  • Matchawan (bowl for powdered tea): The term “chawan” almost always refers to a tea bowl to be used to consume powdered green tea or “matcha,” so I have always found the term “matchawan” to be highly redundant.

  • Banchawan (bowl for coarse tea): Course tea (bancha) is usually drunk out of a tea cup (yunomi) rather than a tea bowl, so this term also seems a bit strange. I have noticed that some potters in Japan use this term to describe their tea bowls, but the difference escapes me
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