Features of Seto Ware

The most outstanding feature of Seto ware is its use of a wide variety of glazes. During medieval times, Seto was the only pottery center in Japan that used glazes. The glazed pottery, known as “Ko-Seto (old Seto) ware,” significantly impacted the development of tea bowls in Japan. Since the clay produced in Seto turns white through firing, this helps produce beautiful colors of glazes, and led to outstanding progress of diverse kinds of glazes in the region.

The second feature of Seto ware is the great diversity of product types, including both earthenware and porcelain. Moreover, potters in Seto City are currently producing ceramic dolls/figurines, and industrial products such as fine ceramics.

Production of such diverse items is possible thanks to abundant high-quality kaolin and porcelain stone available in clay pits within the city. Since these materials have considerable viscosity and plasticity (the property of retaining the shaped form even after applied forces are removed), and turn white through firing, they enable production of a wide variety of ceramic items in response to various needs of both producers and consumers.

Seto ware features a wide variety of items, ranging from jars of classical yakishime stoneware (a durable, nonabsorbent, and hard-paste ceramic ware produced by firing at high temperatures) to shiny porcelains, and to folk pottery, particularly uma-no-me-zara (lit. horse eye dish, large dish or bowl with helical design that look like horse eyes). Accordingly, visitors to Seto kilns are likely to find almost all types of ceramic ware produced in Japan.

Various types of Setoyaki

Among the Seto ware, there are several types that have particularly outstanding features, such as Akazu ware with a wide variety of glazes, and Seto sometsukeyaki (blue-and-white porcelain) highlighted by beautiful shades of cobalt blue pigment.