Visiting Kyōgetsu Soma-Yaki Kiln

A look at how our Bizen ware is made. Learn about the hard process and why only 100 are crafted every 6 months.
The Kiln is being fired only twice a year, because of the very intense & tiring firing process. But what happens before and after the firing?

 
Fukushima Soma Asemi Co.
Fukushima Japan Soma Asemi

The artisan collects the raw material  from different hills and rice paddies in the Okayama area. After the soil is crushed and the clay is prepared, the water is being filtered out.

Blossoms Asemi Fukushima

Over the span of several months, Kiko Ando, the artisan brings the clay into shapes by hand on the potters wheel. Every single cup is crafted this way. 

Kyoko Kondo Soma Asemi Co
Blossom Trees Fukushima Asemi

Placing his work into the kiln is the next step. Straw is used as a spacer between the objects, so they do not stick together. It also leaves the signature Bizen-Yaki pattern behind

Kyoko Kondo Soma Artisan

The preparation of firing wood is very essential. The amount of firing wood needed depends on the outside temperature. This step is also done by hand. A lot of wood is needed for to fire the kiln for one week straight. It is neatly packed for quick access.

Soma Kiln Asemi Artisan
Soma blue cracks asemi co
Soma Yaki Artisan
Soma-Yaki Artisan Asemi

The temperature inside the kiln has to rise above 1000˚C. 

Soma Asemi Artisan
Soma Artisan Cup Asemi
Asemi Artisan Soma
Artisan Fukushima Asemi
Hand Craft Asemi Co

For one week, Ando adds new firing wood every 5 to 10 minutes. After the firing, the kiln has to cool down, which takes almost a week. When it cooled down enough the artisan takes out the pieces carefully one by one.

Crafting Asemi Artisan

The reason for our Asemi Co. Bizen-Yaki cups being limited to 100 pieces per size every 6 months is their aesthetic, called “Sangiri”. It requires a special location in the kiln which allows the artisan to pour ash on the cups during the firing process. This area is very small, only allowing those 100 pieces being located there.

Tools Asemi Artisan
Craftsman Asemi Artisan

Taking out the workpieces again takes several days. All vessels will be checked for leaks. Faulty and out of shape pieces will be sorted out.

Glaze Soma Asemi
Soma Yaki Glaze Asemi Artisan

Surfaces that are too rough have to be ground. The bottom has to be flat so the vessels stand properly, if necessary it will be ground until it’s perfect. 

Soma Yaki Kiln Asemi

Our cups are then shipped to Tokyo where they are packed into our signature artisan cup packaging, sealed and marked with the seasonal stamp and given a unique number each.

After a lot of hard work, finally the products are finished. 

Shiba Inu Asemi Co
Abandoned Bus Asemi Artisan