Traditional Culture of Japan - Portal site of traditional crafts and culture

Varieties of Bizen ware when fired and kamahen


Firing Bizen ware in a kiln brings out its distinct earthy color. During the firing process, the burnt coloring and designs change depending on where the piece is placed in the kiln and how the conditions during the firing process are manipulated.


With Bizen ware, changes that occur as the result of being fired in a kiln are referred to as kamahen, or "kiln transformation". Below, we will take a look at the varieties of kamahen that appear during the firing process.


Goma ("Sesame")




This kamahen owes its name to the design it creates, which looks like sesame seeds sprinkled on the pottery. The pine logs used in the incinerator turn to ash which sticks to the work, thereby creating this design.


To achieve a natural goma design, the work is placed in a spot that catches a lot of ash, such as near the incinerator where the pine logs are placed.





The word san as used in sangiri refers to the walls of the kiln. Since ash tends to collect on the walls, pieces placed along the walls are buried in ash.


Being covered in ash, the ware does not come in direct contact with fire, causing it to turn a dark brown. This change is called sangiri. Sangiri can also be achieved by placing a small work next to a larger work.







Placing one work on top of a plate, bowl, or similar work creates a portion that does not come in contact with the fire. The result is a red color like that of baked botamochi, a kind of Japanese treat.


Today, botamochi patterns are made intentionally, using a combination of shapes to create designs other than circular shapes.

Hidasuki ("Scarlet Sash")




This kamahen derives its names from its hue which is reminiscent of a scarlet sash. This kamahen is achieved by wrapping rice straw around the ware


Hidasuki is one of Bizen ware's most popular kamahen. It makes for a beautiful kind of Bizen ware with splashes of red against white.



Aobizen (Blue Bizen)


Aobizen (Blue Bizen)


When a piece is smoked without coming into direct contact with fire — by covering the work in ash for example – the piece may turn a bluish gray. This is known as aobizen.


As it only happens on rare occasions, natural aobizen are highly-prized. However, today, aobizen can be created artificially. The artificial kind is referred to as shio bizen ("Salt Bizen") to distinguish it from its naturally occurring counterpart.

Fuseyaki (Covered Firing)


Fuseyaki (Covered Firing)


By placing one work on top of another, only specific portions come into contact with the fire. Kamahen that create different burn colorings on the top and bottom of a piece in this manner are referred to as fuseyaki.


Portions not coming in contact with the flames turn a navy blue, while portions in contact with the flames turn a reddish brown.



One work is not limited to having only one kamahen; there are some creative ways to make several kamahen happen. For example, wrapping a work with straw and placing another work on top of it produces a "hidasuki + fuseyaki" Bizen ware work.


By combining several kamahen, it is possible to create more artistic Bizen ware.

 Sponsored Link

  Site Map