Shiraiwa-yaki Waheegama

an 18th-century technique revived

A craft brought to life during the Edo Period when Unshichi Matsumoto, famous for his Oborisoma ware, was invited to Akita as an expert for the transformation of mined goods. Upon discovering the unique and high-quality soil in Shiraiwa, he launched the first Shiraiwayaki kiln, which went on to become a flourishing industry with 5000 potters. However, the craft completely disappeared due to various events during the Meiji Period and remained extinct for 70 years, until Aoi Watanabe's mother revived it as a young university graduate. Today there is only one kiln in operation: the Waheegama kiln, run by the Watanabe family.


Namako Glaze

A traditional glaze with a speckled texture similar to a sea cucumber.

Aoi Watanabe

Although she voluntarily took over the Waheegama kiln, in the beginning, Aoi Watanabe was not the biggest admirer of the Namako Glaze, preferring more muted designs instead. Her biggest concern was how to make this glaze, which had exclusively been used for folkloric pieces, work in today’s society. As an admirer of Scandinavian designs, she was inspired to express the warmth of the Namako Glaze through more modern designs. Not only does the Shiraiwa craft continue to live on through her contemporary pieces, Aoi's personality also shines through, as she incorporates the gold plating and Rokurome techniques she picked up in Kyoto.