Bizen-yaki, named after its place of origin in Okayama Prefecture, is said to be the oldest form of pottery in Japan.
The pottery technique of Bizen-yaki makes the outcome of the firing process unpredictable, thus making each cup a piece of art. The process begins with the preparation of the raw clay. The clay is collected from the hills and sometimes mixed with a combination of clay from different locations. It contains a lot of iron and organic matter, resulting in a rough finish of the potteries. There are are several techniques which give Bizen-Yaki its unique look. The burning of rice straw or pine wood alongside the potteries will result in a reddish brown color and the ashes covering them in a smoother finish. The location of the pottery placed in the kiln is of great importance for the outcome of the finish, but since it is dependant of a lot of factors, it is hard to control and the style and technique of the artisan creating the pottery plays a great role.
Bizen ware takes a long time to finish. Once the kiln is fired, it has to be kept burning for one to two weeks non stop, feeding it new firewood every few minutes. This difficult and exhausting process leads to artisans firing their kilns only once or twice a year.
This very special procedure with the unpredictable result is reflected in our cups. Numbers of these cups produced each year are very small.
Asemi Co. Bizen-yaki cups are made by the artisan Kiko Ando in Bizen, Okayama.