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Glossary of Pottery Related Japanese Words
as Used in Furutani's Book

Note Entries that have a hyperlink are audible (MP3) and spoken by a native speaker of Japanese (Shiori). Due to some button pushing incompetence on my part - some entries do not have an associated sound.

Bi-doro From the Portuguese "vidrol" meaning "glass". This refers to glossy streams of natural-ash glaze (shizenyu) which terminate in a shiny bead of glass. They may flow over areas on which little or no natural-ash glaze has developed. Sometimes, the streams of glaze drip over areas where the underlying ash-glaze has a contrasting matte finish. It is important to note that Furutani did not refer to streams of glaze with a matte texture as bi-doro. Instead, depending on the qualities of such a drip, he would have used the terms haikaburi, shizenyu, or youhen.

Botamochi Shape Round rice-cake shape.

Bu Old Japanese linear measurement. There are 10 bu per sun. As used in this book, it is approximately 0.12 in. (0.3 cm).

Chawan Rice bowl or tea bowl.

Endou The sloping flue between the kiln and the chimney.

Fukidashi Typically, a row of holes at the bottom of the last chamber of a noborigama which allows venting of fire and smoke.

Gairome Literally, "frog's eye". There are a couple definitions of this clay. "[C]lass of kaolinic, vitrifiable secondary clay only partially decomposed through transport. Consequently, it tends to include much mineral debris from the parent rock, including quartz, feldspar, and sericite mica." Richard L Wilson, Inside Japanese Ceramics, A Primer of Materials, Techniques, and Traditions 44 (1st paperback ed. 1999). Penny Simpson et al., The Japanese Pottery Handbook 52 (1979), defines gairome as "ball clay".

Gotoku Three or four pronged stand placed in a hibachi to support a kettle above the layer of coals. See diagram on page 108.

Hagi A white crackled and/or crawled glaze. With hagi ware, the color changes over time as it is used.

Haikaburi Literally "ash-covered". In wood-fired kilns, wood ashes fall on the pottery during firing and melt into a natural-ash glaze. Haikaburi is one type of natural-ash glaze which has as its fundamental characteristic, a matte texture. This matte texture results when the ash deposits which pile up on the pieces do not fully melt into a glossy surface. Haikaburi and shizenyu occupy different points on the natural-ash glaze continuum. Haikaburi is simply less melted. It may be helpful to imagine haikaburi as being the precursor to shizenyu (shizenyu being a type of natural-ash glaze which has fully melted and begun to stream down the sides of the pottery).

Hanaire These are vessels for flower arrangement. Materials include metal, porcelain, stoneware, bamboo, and wood.

Hi Iro Literally "fire color". This is perhaps similar to "flashing" in the West, but Furutani's examples of hi iro seem to have additional characteristics. Hi iro refers to changes in the color of the clay body itself due to the interaction between the flames and minerals in the clay. Hi iro pottery does not have a buildup of ash glaze. In fact, if ash glaze does develop, the hi iro tends to be obliterated. Furutani developed specialized kilns and firing techniques to attain hi iro effects.

Hibachi Traditional hibachi are round ceramic utensils used for boiling water or as a heater. Do not confuse these with the "Hibachi" brand charcoal grills. For an example, see the diagram for "Charcoal Brazier" in Penny Simpson et al., The Japanese Pottery Handbook 85 (1979).

Hibuse Hibuse is a term reserved for certain fire-effects that are produced in noborigama kilns. Noborigama kilns can be used to produce glazed pottery. However, because noborigama kilns are fired with wood, there is a risk that ashes falling on the glazed pottery could cause unwanted effects in the glaze. In order to protect the glazed pottery, unglazed pottery is placed at floor level right next to the "firebox" (in reality, this is an open space traveling the width of the chamber into which wood is thrown - it is not physically separated from the loading area). The unglazed "guard" pots are placed in front of the glazed ware and stand between the burning wood and the glazed pottery, thereby protecting the glazed pieces. The unglazed "guard" pots are greatly affected by heat and ash from the wood burned in the chamber. As a result, these pots may develop effects akin to bi-doro, haikaburi, koge, shizenyu, and/or youhen. For pottery fired in noborigama kilns, these effects are collectively referred to as "hibuse". Please take note however, hibuse is not used to describe these fire-effects for pottery produced in anagama kilns. For further discussion and picture, see Jack Troy, Wood-Fired Stoneware and Porcelain 3 (1995).

Hiki Dashi Kuro This method involves removing the pottery from the kiln during firing to make the pottery very black through sudden cooling.

Hitoeguchi Mizusashi This is one style of mouth. The rim is not folded toward the inside nor is it curved outwardly. Instead, it is cut so the rim stands straight.

Hitotsu Narabe Method of loading pottery directly on the kiln floor without shelving. Literally means "standing in one line".

Iga Unglazed high fired ware that appeared first in the 16th century in the Iga area of Japan. Furutani used this term in an manner individual to his own work. He built a unique kiln in Iga and fired it in a unique manner (see page 109). Usually, the pottery he fired in the Iga kiln, was made of clay mined in the Iga region. However, Furutani also sometimes referred to pottery made out of Iga clay but fired in one of his Shigaraki kilns, as Iga pottery. Finally, Furutani would refer to pieces as Iga pottery when the pieces were stylistically similar to Iga pottery and possessed Iga firing effects. The stylistic characteristics of Iga pottery include lugs ("ears") attached to the pieces and thick, abundant, flowing shizenyu effects.

Iwagama Name of a specific kiln. Literally means "rock kiln".

Jagama Snake kiln.

JIS Bricks Japanese Industrial Standard. JIS bricks are 230 mm long, 114 mm wide, and 65 mm thick. In other words, approximately 9 x 4.5 x 2.5 in.

Ken Old Japanese linear measurement. There are 6 shaku per ken. As used in this book, it is approximately 5.9 ft. (1.8 m).

Koge Pots near the firebox may be covered with embers during the firing. Burying pots in embers causes cooler firing temperatures for those pots (or the buried portions of those pots). When natural-ash glaze is not allowed to develop on the pieces buried in embers, burial in embers causes the clay to develop dark charcoal-colored or pastel-hued qualities. On the other hand, if haikaburi or shizenyu is allowed to develop prior to burying the piece in embers, and the firing temperature is sufficiently high, the buried portions of natural-ash glaze will develop a coal encrusted surface. Note that a piece which is partially buried may exhibit koge on the buried portion and haikaburi or shizenyu on the exposed portion.

Mizusashi One of the tea utensils. This lidded vessel holds the water supply to be heated for tea and also holds water for rinsing the chawan. The chawan are not rinsed in the vessel, it simply holds the water that will be used in rinsing.

Mousou Bamboo Mousou refers to a type of bamboo in the sense that "maple" refers to a type of tree. This is the most common type of bamboo available in Japan. The full word is, mousoudake, "dake" meaning "bamboo". This type of bamboo originated in China and as an interesting side note, it is a type Pandas like to eat. Importantly for kiln building, it is elastic.

Oribe A high-fired ware that originated around 1600. This ceramic style is named after tea master and warrior Furuta Oribe (1545-1615). General features include a dark green copper glaze, white slip, underglaze brush work, and use of clear glaze.

Rokkouyou The six famous ancient kilns of Japan, i.e., Seto, Tokoname, Shigaraki, Echizen, Tanba, Bizen. Louise A. Cort, Shigaraki: Potter's Valley 20-22 (1st Weatherhill ed. 2000).

Sama Ana Openings at the bottom of the kiln wall which vent fire and smoke.

Shaku Old Japanese linear foot. As used in this book, it is approximately 11.8 in. (30 cm).

Shino Pottery which was made in Mino during the Momoyama period (1573 - 1603). The technique was imported from China.

Shizenyu Literally "natural glaze". In the case of wood-fired kilns, a natural ash glaze develops when ashes fall on the pottery and melt. Shizenyu usually develops in the hotter parts of the kiln and refers to natural-ash glazes which are fully melted and glassy. Shizenyu and haikaburi occupy different points on the natural-ash glaze continuum. Shizenyu is simply more melted, glossy, and shows more streaming than haikaburi.

Sun Old Japanese linear measurement. There are 10 sun per shaku. As used in this book, it is approximately 1.2 in. (3 cm).

Sutema This is a small chamber immediately behind the main anagama body which stabilizes the firing conditions. Pieces may be fired in the sutema but it is typically not used for firing pottery.

Takiguchi Firemouth.

Toukan Fired ceramic pipe sections.

Tsubo From ancient times, vessels with a mouth which is comparatively smaller than their rounded bodies have all been called tsubo. These have been made not only from clay, but out of lacquer ware and metal as well.

Uma no Tsume Literally, a horse's hoof. In this case, it is a stand placed on the lower end of the slope beneath an individual pot to give that pot a flat place to rest. See page 100 and the top diagram at page 101. Further discussion can be found at Louise A. Cort, Shigaraki: Potter's Valley 84 (1st Weatherhill ed. 2000).

Waritake Cut bamboo.

Yakishime After a piece is formed out of clay, it is fired "as is" without the addition of glaze.

Youhen Literally "kiln change". This term refers to pieces which undergo unexpected changes in color and/or texture during the firing. Note that textural changes in natural-ash glazes are almost always accompanied by color changes. This effect can be seen in the transition zones between shizenyu and haikaburi or haikaburi and koge.

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