December 18, 12 | Fumiko Magota
"Kobushi Kiln" first opened it's doors in 1946. Currently the kiln is run by Mr. Satori, the son of the founder, and his son, third generation pottery worker, Chiaki. Together they are continuing the family tradition of creating "Kobushi Kiln Fired" pottery, this is a brand loved by many.
▲ "Kobushi Kiln Fired" pottery is great for everyday use, as a gift, or as a souvenir.
One of the key characteristics of "Kobushi Kiln Fired" works is the handmade foundation and glaze used. All clay used to create these materials is from right here in Hokkaido. "We began firing pottery before there were any shops in the area where we could buy materials, so for us it has always been normal to make our own." says Chiaki. "The clay in Hokkaido is hard to fire with strong heat, so making pottery with it is quite difficult. In order to work with it we devise our own formulas that we use."
▲ 3rd generation worker Mr. Chiaki Yamaoka. "In the old days we used soil from Iwamizawa, but after we expanded it was hard to make the trip to gather materials. Now we use material from all over Hokkaido."
It's not easy to make the bases or the glazes used. Stones and clay gathered are tested in the kiln. If they melt they are used for glaze, if not the are used for the foundation of the base material. After that they must think of a unique formula for each individual material, meaning that the preparation process is a long and thought out one. For the completion of just one glaze or foundation material many years are required.
▲ Clay dug up in Hokkaido is taken and put into a grinder...
▲ Unnecessary materials are removed from the finely ground powder, which is now fit for base or glaze creation.
▲ Testing the glaze. This process involves testing out different formulas to see what colors are possible, each of the small clay blocks you see are painted, fired, and then examined.
▲ Different bases are put through the same process, testing out different formulas when put into different shapes.
Many people know "Kobushi Kiln" for their work with indigo blue. The results of their research with this color are lined up below along with some other colors.
When I asked Chiaki about his future goals he said that he was interested in "mass producing our pottery for use all over Hokkaido. Also, because we use only Hokkaido materials for our products, there are several colors that we've been unable to work with as of yet. I'd like to do more research to find these. After that, mass production. Although if this small scale work is so difficult, I can only imagine how hard mass production would be."
▲ Made with all-Hokkaido materials! It makes a great Hokkaido souvenir, I can't wait until they mass produce!
Pottery from "Kobushi Kiln" have a smooth form and come in a variety of beautiful colors, making them perfect as a usable show piece on your diner table. They are sturdy enough to last for years and a great representation of Hokkaido pottery.
▲ The Kiln Workshop Gallery. Items are also available for purchase.
〈こぶし窯〉 (Kobushi Kiln)
Location : 27, 5-jyo Higashi 13-chome, Iwamizawa
TEL : 0126-22-4303
Hours of Operation: 9:30 - 17:00
Irregular days off.
Prices : Cup - from 870 Yen, Rice Bowl - from 1350 Yen.
URL: http://www.kobushiyaki.jp (Japanese)
(Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Fukko)
(Photographs by Isao Kawamura)