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越前焼について
越前古窯と越前町
越前町内の窯元
福井県内の窯元
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越前焼について
越前焼
越前古窯と越前町

In the past, Echizen kilns had been believed to be distributed only in the hills to the west of the Tenno River flowing through the center of Old Echizen Town until the latter half of the 40th year of the Showa period (1926-1989) when, in the hills to the east of the Tenno River, where many "Sue-ki" (unglazed stoneware) kilns dating from the latter part of the Heian period (794-1185) are distributed, a group of remains of Tuchiya old Echizen kilns and a group of remains of Kamichosa old Echizen kilns in the Ozowara area of the town (the oldest Echizen kilns ever found) and a group of remains of Okujadani old Echizen kilns in Echizen City next to the town were discovered one after another, providing new information about the occurrence of Echizen ware. These groups of the remains of the Echizen kilns have all been found to have started production in the late years of the Heian period (794-1185), among them the remains of the Kamichosa No.3 kiln, when excavated for investigation, showed its production of "Sankinko" (a jar with three horizontal stripes on its surface), suggesting that the Echizen ware kilns were established by introduction of the pottery making technique developed in the Tokai district (encompassing Shizuoka, Aichi, Gifu and Mie prefectures). The major types of ware produced in Echizen throughout the Middle ages (from the latter part of the 12th century to the beginning of the 16th century) were predominantly large-sized jars and mortars with "Sankinko (small jars with three stripes on their surfaces)", "Heishi(small bottles)", "Suichu (small water containers)", "katakuchi-kotsubo (small single-ported jars) and other small-sized wares produced only in small quantities according to the needs of the times. The firing of clay to produce such wares was carried out in "Ana-gama (wood kiln) dug on a hillside in a tunnel shape with a length of approximately 15m and a width of approximately 2.5m (in the Kamakura period (1185-1333)) to fire the clay with reducing flame and cool it under an oxidizing atmosphere, making its color brown. From the middle years of the Kamakura period (1185-1333) toward its latter years, the distribution of kilns in the town shifted to its western hills with about half of all the kilns found in this area having appeared during this period as observed in other regions of Japan.

越前焼

Behind the appearance of so many kilns across the nation during the latter part of the Heian period to the latter part of the Kamakura period was the rapid advancement of various industries including agriculture. The wide spread of a two-crop system over various districts of the nation during the middle ages led people engaged in agriculture to work on the promotion of germination and recovery of soil fertility, which, in turn, required them to prepare jars for use in storing seeds and manure. In other fields than agriculture, similar jars were used for religious and money storing purposes. In the latter part of the Heian period, burying Buddhist sutras beneath small earthen mounds started to become popular, requiring containers in which to place copies of the sutras, while cremation spread widely, requiring containers in which to place the ashes left after the cremation. Storing money in jars seems to have become popular in the Kamakura and Muromachi (1333-1568) periods as evidenced by not-rare discovery of jars each containing several hundreds of thousands of copper coins used in these periods. These facts suggest that earthen ware produced in kilns across the nation during the middle ages such as represented by Echizen kilns laid deep in the living of the people in those days.

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