by Morgan Pitelka.
The following article was originally
published on Morgan Pitelka's website: http://employees.oxy.edu/mpitelka/index.html.
Below you will find rough definitions for a number
of words commonly used in discussions of Japanese ceramics. I suggest
using English equivalents whenever possible. If neccessary, give
the Japanese term in italics with an English definition in parentheses.
If you have suggestions, comments, or criticism, please email
NOTE: Accent marks over vowels indicate long vowels. For example,
the "ô" in "ôgama" indicates that
the "oh" sound is two times longer than the normal "oh"
vowel. Otherwise each syllable should be given equal weight.
Sources include Louise Cort, Seto and Mino Ceramics (University
of Hawaii Press, 1992); Louise Cort. Shigaraki, Potters' Valley
(Kodansha, 1979); Sekai tôji zenshû [Catalog
of world ceramics] (Shôgakukan, 1975); Penny Simpson, Lucy
Kitto, and Kanji Sodeoka, The Japanese Pottery Handbook (Kodansha,
1979); Tôki daijiten [Great dictionary of ceramics]
Tôki Zenshû Kankôkai, ed. (Gogatsu Shobô,
1980; reprint of 1934 edition); Richard Wilson, Inside Japanese
Ceramics (Weatherhill, 1995)
guinomi (sake cup; image courtesy Robert
Tokkuri & cups (image courtesy Robert
Anagama kiln (image courtesy Milton
- 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
- Asahi: Japanese high-fired ceramic ware produced in the
city of Uji, south of Kyoto; originated in late 16th to early
- 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
- chadô: the way of tea
- chaire: tea caddy; small container used to hold powdered
- chanoyu: the tea ceremony
- chatô: 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
- 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
- Jômon: 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 "Kyôyaki"
- 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;
- 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
- Kyôyaki: "Kyoto ceramics"; Japanese high-fired
and porcelain wares produced in Kyoto; originated in 17th century;
- 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
- matcha: powdered green tea for the tea ceremony; see
- mingei: folk craft or folk art; the Folk Craft Movement
(Mingei undô) was started by Yanagi Sôetsu
(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
- 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; appropriated
from Korea or China in early seventeenth century
- ôgama: "great kiln"; wide, sloped, single-chamber
kiln with side door; originated in Seto/Mino region in early 16th
- Ôhi: Japanese low-fired ceramic ware produced in
Ôhi, near Kanazawa, in the Kaga domain (present-day Ishikawa
Prefecture) by the Ôhi family; founded in 1666 by the potter
Chôzaemon, 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)
- 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
- 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
- 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
- sûyaki: 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)
- teppôgama: rifle kiln
- te-rokuro: hand wheel
- tôgei: ceramic arts
- tôji: ceramics, clay
- tôjiki: ceramics (literally ceramic and porcelain
objects; see also jiki)
- tôki: ceramics (specifically, ceramic objects)
- 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 Jômon 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
- yunomi: tea cup
What is the difference between the following terms: yunomi,
guinomi, chawan, senchawan, banchawan, and matchawan?
The basic problem is that three separate tea drinking traditions exist in contemporary Japan, and they do not employ the same labels for ceramics. This causes a great deal of confusion among foreign collectors and potters.
The most common tea tradition in Japan is not really a codified, organized tradition at all: the daily consumption of tea in almost every household in the country. On a daily basis, most Japanese drink steeped green tea (sencha), course tea (bancha), or some form of roasted tea (hojicha) or stem tea (kukicha). More and more also drink coffee, black tea with milk or lemon, or Chinese fermented tea such as Oolong tea. These distinctions are described in more detail in the introduction of my book Japanese Tea Culture. The point is, although most people drink these teas out of what we would call a cup in English, a variety of Japanese terms are used to describe these vessels, and they are not standardized in any way. The best term is probably yunomi, which basically means tea cup.
The second most important tea tradition in Japan is chanoyu, also referred to (particularly by practitioners) as Chado or Sado (homophones meaning the way of tea). This ritualized, performative tradition is the one most potters know something about, because it is the source of so many of the styles and aesthetic innovations that influence American and global ceramics today. Chanoyu practitioners drink powdered green tea from a medium to large bowl. These are NOT cups: they are distinctly shaped liked bowls.
The third tea tradition in Japan is sencha or steeped tea.
This tradition became popular in the 18th century, when a small
group of Japanese artists and intellectuals appropriated literati
customs from China and invented a tea-drinking ritual to rival chanoyu.
The vessels in this tradition are called chawan or meiwan,
but are often smaller than chanoyus tea bowls and look more
The important fact to note is that historically, most tea bowls
were not smaller than 9 cm and not larger than 14 cm in the diameter
of the mouth.
- Yunomi (literally [for] drinking hot water):
tea cup, usually taller than wide and smaller in diameter than
the smallest of tea bowls. Often mistakenly called tea bowl
by American potters.
- Guinomi (literally one gulp): a small cup, often wide
with a narrow base, used exclusively for drinking sake. Sometimes
imitates the shape of a tea bowl.
- Chawan (literally tea bowl): a small to medium sized
bowl used for drinking hot tea (usually powdered green tea or
matcha). Historically, shapes were limited to the
following forms: conical (like temmoku tea bowls imported to Japan
from China, and their Japanese reproductions); half-cylindrical
(the vertical walls are not as tall as the bowls diameter);
and cylindrical (the vertical walls are taller than the diameter
of the bowl).
In Japanese, tea practitioners frequently refer to more than 26
different shapes of tea bowls, but these are difficult to translate
into English and not very meaningful in a non-chanoyu cultural context.
- Senchawan (bowl for steeped tea): Chinese literati-style
steeped tea drinking became very popular in Japan in the 18th
century and continues to have a small following in contemporary
Japan. To learn more about Sencha, see Pat Grahams book
Tea of the Sages: The Art of Sencha.
- Matchawan (bowl for powdered tea): The term chawan
almost always refers to a tea bowl to be used to consume powdered
green tea or matcha, so I have always found the term
matchawan to be highly redundant.
- Banchawan (bowl for coarse tea): Course tea (bancha)
is usually drunk out of a tea cup (yunomi) rather than a tea bowl,
so this term also seems a bit strange. I have noticed that some
potters in Japan use this term to describe their tea bowls, but
the difference escapes me.
Morgan Pitelka's website: http://employees.oxy.edu/mpitelka/index.html.