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Bizen-yaki Artisan

Kiko Ando’s studio and kiln are located in the heart of Bizen Irinaka, Okayama Prefecture. The kiln is operated under the name “Narutaki-gama”, named after a local waterfall.

Besides his work as an artist, he uses his kiln “Narutaki-gama” to produce Bizen ware for the everyday use. His studio showroom is run by a cat that he once saved as a kitten from the road in front of his studio. From the window of his tidy studio visitors  can see the hills of Okayama, adding to the calm atmosphere of his work place.

At work Mr. Ando takes matters in his own hands, starting with the production of the clay. It is carefully selected, cleaned, and prepared for the pottery making process.

He fires his kiln twice a year, in spring and in autumn and with the support of friends and family he keeps the kiln fired for at least one week, adjusting the temperature by hand adding firewood in different places of the kiln every few minutes. It is a very sensitive procedure, where small mistakes can lead to unfavorable outcomes of the finished products.

After the firing and the cooldown, he carefully examines his work for watertightness and cleans it as the final finish.