A short glossary of Japanese ceramics
names and terms
 borrowed with thanks from
Morgan Pitelka's Princeton University Japanese ceramics site

Sources for glossary information are listed at the end.
The site also contains links to many museums with collections of Japanese ceramics, and some ceramics sites in Japan, which are of uneven quality for English-speakers.


Accent marks over vowels indicate long vowels. For example, the "¡¦quot; in "óÆama" indicates that the "oh" sound is two times longer than the normal "oh" vowel. Otherwise each syllable should be given equal weight.

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

chad¡¦/b>: the way of tea

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

chanoyu: the tea ceremony

chat¡¦/b>: 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

JóÌon: 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 "KyóØaki"

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

KyóØaki: "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 und¡¦/i>) was started by Yanagi SóÄtsu (1889-1961; also Yanagi Muneyoshi)

Mino: 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

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; also called split-bamboo kiln; appropriated from Korea or China in early seventeenth century

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

ÓÇi: Japanese low-fired ceramic ware produced in ÓÇi, near Kanazawa, in the Kaga domain (present-day Ishikawa Prefecture) by the ÓÇi family; founded in 1666 by the potter ChóÙaemon, 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 around 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

s¡¦aki: 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)

teppóÆama: rifle kiln

te-rokuro: hand wheel

tóÆei: ceramic arts

tóÉi: ceramics

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 JóÌon 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

Sources include Louise Cort, Seto and Mino Ceramics (University of Hawaii Press, 1992); Louise Cort. Shigaraki, Potters' Valley (Kodansha, 1979); Sekai tóÉi zenshüÞ/i> [Catalog of world ceramics] (ShóÆakukan, 1975); Penny Simpson, Lucy Kitto, and Kanji Sodeoka, The Japanese Pottery Handbook (Kodansha, 1979); TóÊi daijiten [Great dictionary of ceramics] TóÊi ZenshüÂKankóÊai, ed. (Gogatsu Shob¡¦ 1980; reprint of 1934 edition); Richard Wilson, Inside Japanese Ceramics (Weatherhill, 1995)


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