Hagi in Yamaguchi Prefecture is well known for its fine ceramics - Hagi-ware or in Japanese hagiyaki.
Pottery production in Hagi dates back to the Heian Period but it wasn't until the late sixteenth century that the distinctive Hagi-ware of simple forms and a translucent white glaze were born.
The late sixteenth century was a period of intense interest in the tea ceremony inspired by the influence of the tea master Sen-no-rikyu (1522-1591) and his philosophy of tea known as wabi-cha. The era also saw two invasions of Korea by warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi, whose forces abducted a number of potters from Korea.
Two of these (the brothers Lee Jak Kwang and Lee Kyung) settled in the Hagi area under the patronage of the Mori clan and began making Korean-style tea bowls which are the origin of later Hagi-ware.
Hagiyaki is supposed to improve with age as the colors soften as the tannin from the green tea soaks through the porous glaze. However, the pottery is very fragile and easy to break.
Two of Hagi's great pottery families are the Miwas and the Sakas, some of whose members have been designated National Living Treasures for their art.
Hagi-ware can be seen in numerous galleries and museums throughout the town including the Hagi Museum (Tel: 0838 25 6447), the Ishii Teabowl Museum (Tel: 0838 25 1211) and the Hagi Pottery Museum (Tel: 0838 25 8981).
The first week of May is the annual Hagi-yaki Festival with works from over 50 local kilns on sale.
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Saturday, August 07, 2010
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