The Wonder 500

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Ao-Bizen Migaki Shuten (Polished sake cup)

Drinking Vessels (Lipped Bowls/Sake Bottles/Sake Cups)
The history of Bizen pottery goes back some 1,300 years. Made using the yakishime method of firing unglazed wares at high temperatures, Bizen pottery is known for its natural ocher coloration, but in fact the effects of the high temperature and the ash in the kiln can even change the composition of the clay, bringing various colors to the surface of the pottery. The Ao-Bizen polished sake cup is one example of this process. Ao-Bizen, or “blue Bizen,” is created using a technology that dates back to the Edo period (1603–1868). A vessel for firing pottery called saya and charcoal are used to create a powerful reduction environment, in which the clay turns a unique blue color. The specific glaze is attained by using particularly fine clay, polishing the surface of the cup like a mirror, and placing in the kiln straw, as its components settle on the clay to make a matte natural glaze. This type of pottery can be created only in a limited space inside the kiln, so blue Bizen items are rare and precious works of art.