Hasami Porcelain: Journey to Japan’s Ceramic Center
Above: Emma Tsuchida meets Abe Kuntaro, HASAMI PORCELAIN’s Leading Product Coordinator at HASAMI PORCELAIN’s original manufacturing site
400 years ago, in Japan’s Edo period, porcelain was a luxury exclusive to the upper class. But with the use of climbing kilns and streamlined production lines - a rural town in Nagasaki prefecture named Hasami dramatically changed the trajectory of ceramicware by developing ways to craft porcelain at a reasonable price for the masses. The rest of course, is history.
Hasami quickly became Japan’s premier ceramic center, bringing pottery to the people and making it a hub for ceramic artists and pottery enthusiasts worldwide.
While home to just 15,000 residents, Hasami boasts several large and prominent kilns that proudly continue many of the traditional methods of pottery sustained over the centuries.
The most ancient kilns in Hasami are called ‘noborigamas’ or ‘climbing kilns’ for the way their structures hug the steep mountainsides of rural landscapes. Chopped wood is thrown into the kiln’s first room at the foot of the mountain, and heat is allowed to build and climb up the adjoining rooms, eventually filling the entire kiln and firing everything inside. As heat travels through each chamber, less wood is required at each stop.
HASAMI PORCELAIN is the first original tableware line designed in Hasami for an international audience. Designed by Tortoise General Store owner and designer, Taku Shinomoto, the line is not produced at one location, but at several different factories and kilns inside of Hasami. Shinomoto's vision for a stackable, modular line of tableware was an almost impossible vision at first, but Hasami's innovative and determined team of makers found a way to shrink the clay down to a millimeter to achieve a miraculous fit when the line is stacked.