Shisui-gama – Kyo-yaki, Kiyomizu-yaki

A kiln that was set up in Gojo-zaka at the base of Kiyomizu Temple, this pottery producer has continued for around 110 years. Excelling at the creation of colorful bowls typical of Kyo-yaki, they also express a modern, eloquent elegance with their work. Tea bowls with a lapis lazuli glaze and those painted with gold exquisitely combine and provide an exquisite balance between their function as a tool for drinking tea and their beautiful artistry. This is a business that owes its success to the relationships it has carefully built with its customers through the years.

Nishimura Tokusai Shisui-gama
Born in Kyoto in 1969. In 1995, he began creating tea bowls under the tutelage of the fourth-generation Tokusen at Shisui-gama, where he remains today. In 1999, he was officially recognized as a successor to techniques pertaining to Kyoto craft arts.

Kyoto-style climbing kiln

The few Kyoto-style climbing kilns existing in Kyoto are in Tanzan. These climbing kilns used to be seen within the city, but their numbers have drastically reduced since the regulations on emission that came into effect in 1971. Many artisans turned to gas kilns or electric kilns to create their works instead; the few artisans who sought to preserve Kyoto-style climbing kilns relocated from Gojo-zaka to Tanzan. Characteristic of Kyoto-style climbing kilns is their ability to fire a variety of items – porcelain, earthenware pottery and unglazed pottery – at the same time. At kilns of the time, work involved in lighting and stoking the kiln fire was comprised of different specialist jobs. The people undertaking these jobs were called “kamataki-san” (kiln fire stokers) or “makiwara-san” (wood splitters). The kamataki-san ensured that the fire in the kiln was spread thoroughly to all sections of the kiln, while it was the job of the makiwara-san with their wood-splitting skills to provide the kindling necessary to fuel the fire. In this way, a variety of artisans and people knowledgeable about lighting and stoking kilns assembled together, and the pieces that were created had an unmistakable flavor to them. Today in Tanzan, the fires are lit once a year, so that the skills involved in the practice are passed on.