ANAGAMA Matcha Bowls - Eizan KilnANAGAMA Matcha Bowls - Eizan Kiln

ANAGAMA Matcha Bowls (One-of-a-kind piece / Now Available)

We have begun to sell very special Matcha bowls fired in the most traditional ANAGAMA kiln by the ceramic artist Mr. Eizan Okuda.
ANAGAMA is an ancestor of the climbing kiln, a traditional style of kiln built on an upward incline. A piece of ANAGAMA pottery is never the same as any other. Each work is completely unique, and one of a kind. (So, once sold, it will be out of stock.) ANAGAMA pottery is the art of the combination of earth and fire. It fascinates the artisan and touches the heart. Mr. Eizan Okuda produced some very beautiful and unique pieces of ANAGAMA pottery. The kiln firing continued from September 4th to 8th.
We, at Hibiki-an, are fortunate to be able to offer some of his ANAGAMA pottery. Please take a look. You are sure to fall in love.
[ANAGAMA Matcha Bowl] KUSA no SHIRATSUYU (by Eizan Okuda) US$3,280.00
(One-of-a-kind piece / Now Available)
KUSA means grass, and SHIRATSUYU means white dew in Japanese, but it also refers to a day on the calendar, September 10th. This bowl was unloaded from the kiln on September 10th. This Matcha bowl has many fine aspects, such as its BEEDORO glaze, white and greenish brown spots, gradation color of HIIRO, and so on...
[ANAGAMA Matcha Bowl] HOHJYOH no DAICHI (by Eizan Okuda) US$2,680.00
(One-of-a-kind piece / Now Available)
HOHJYOH means fertile, when the land is fertile and crops grow well. DAICHI of this name means the earth in Japanese. HOHJYOH no DAICHI refers to the generosity and strength of the earth which gives us a bountiful harvest. A special clay created by Mr. Eizan Okuda was used to produce this dark brown Matcha bowl...
[ANAGAMA Matcha Bowl] MINORI no UTAGE (by Eizan Okuda) US$2,080.00
(One-of-a-kind piece / Now Available)
MINORI means crop or harvest and UTAGE means celebration in Japanese. The name evokes a lively celebration where people gather to welcome the bountiful harvest from the earth in autumn. This Matcha bowl was made using a hand-building technique. First Mr. Eizan Okuda makes coils and places them around the edge of the base in spirals...
[ANAGAMA Matcha Bowl] KANSETSU (by Eizan Okuda) US$2,080.00
(One-of-a-kind piece / Now Available)
KANSETSU means snowcap. This Matcha bowl looks like a snowcapped mountain reflecting the sunlight. A thin covering of natural ash glaze created this beautiful white color during firing in the kiln. This KANSETSU Matcha bowl evokes the snowcapped mountain which towers with its majestic nobility...
[ANAGAMA Matcha Bowl] SOHSYUN (by Eizan Okuda)US$2,080.00
(One-of-a-kind piece / Now Available)
SOHSYUN means beginning of spring. The green gold color of BEEDORO glaze looks like new sprouts just starting to grow. The white color of this Matcha bowl looks like snow on the ground. A thin covering of natural ash glaze created this beautiful white color during firing in the kiln...

ANAGAMA Matcha Bowl created by Mr. Eizan Okuda

The whole appearance of a piece of pottery, including its texture, color, form, and atmosphere is known as KESHIKI in Japan. It is said that the KESHIKI appearance of ANAGAMA pottery is one of a kind and a gift from heaven.

When creating each Matcha bowl, the artisan works with the final KESHIKI in mind. However, what is important in making it is not only the design and originality, but also whether the Matcha bowl itself complies with the etiquette of the tea ceremony. Even if the Matcha bowl is made using a seemingly unique technique of expression and looks brilliant, it cannot be considered a genuine Matcha bowl if its shape does not follow the etiquette of the tea ceremony. This requires a high level of skills and expertise.

Mr. Eizan Okuda is not only a famous artisan of Shigaraki ware, but also a long-time master of the tea ceremony in the URASENKE school. He also studied NOH Japanese traditional theatre, when he was younger, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the tea ceremony. His ANAGAMA Matcha bowls are made with a unique design and expression, but also with the strict Japanese tea ceremony etiquette in mind, and are designed to be easy to use for enjoying Matcha. The pieces he creates are true Matcha bowls.

ANAGAMA is an ancestor of the climbing kiln, a traditional style of kiln built on an upward incline. One can say that ANAGAMA is an ancestor of all kilns in Japan. ANAGAMA pottery was first produced in the middle ages in Japan. And it was developed mainly in the Shigaraki region because Shigaraki not only produced large amounts of good clay for pottery but also was located near the Capital of Kyoto. ANAGAMA pottery is characterized by natural fiery scarlet BEEDORO glaze of firewood ash origin. Matcha Chawan (Tea Bowls) fired in the ANAGAMA kiln have been loved by successive tea masters. Today ANAGAMA pottery is known as the traditional art of the combination of earth and fire.

The color and pattern of each ANAGAMA ceramic is completely unique. There is never one ANAGAMA the same as any other. The smoky patterns of the ANAGAMA are created by fire in the ANAGAMA kiln. It is impossible to fully control the patterns made by fire. It is the reason why it is said that ANAGAMA pottery is the art of the combination of earth and fire, and why ANAGAMA fascinates the artisan and touches the heart.

ANAGAMA ceramic itself has various contradictions and its own uniqueness. The combination between the artisan's intent deriving from his technique and the mysterious coincidences which occur during the firing process create the beauty of the Matcha bowl. The difference between rough clay and smooth glazed texture are well combined into one ceramic. Focusing on the natural glaze, coming only from wood ash, a variety of colors in gray, aubergine, brown, BEEDORO green, and their gradations are mutually blended. Burst feldspars caused by roaring flame, decoration created by sea shells, and natural deformations which occur during the firing process are unique beyond comparison. Those factors are all combined in one work, and breathe new life into the Matcha bowl. The longer we gaze at ANAGAMA ceramic carefully, the more we will see and find something new.

Bright and rough natural glazes in gray, aubergine, brown, and BEEDORO green are made from only wood ash during firing in the kiln. All are well marbled into one bowl and create a complicated, indescribable aura.

Needless to say, this ceramic style requires extensive expertise, knowledge, and efforts to produce excellent ANAGAMA works. They are beyond comparison with ordinary pottery.

ANAGAMA pottery is usually fired continuously for 4 days (96 hours) or more, during which about 400 batches of firewood (each batch has about 20 logs of firewood) is burned continuously without break. Only considering the cost of firewood, it is certainly not an inexpensive process.

As above, each ANAGAMA ceramic is one and only and there are never two alike. Because of this, and the fact that it is quite expensive to create, ANAGAMA pottery is not able to be produced for mass commercial distribution. In addition, not all artisans can sell works of ANAGAMA. And successful artisan's works sell quickly. Only a few artisans are able to produce ANAGAMA pottery in Japan, and therefore ANAGAMA pottery is hardly found on the market. Even in Japan, it is quite rare.

Matcha Chawan and other pottery before firing in the kiln

Flames blazing in the ANAGAMA kiln

Adjusting the condition inside ANAGAMA kiln, using an iron rod

Glaze flow and color, and HIIRO fire color are different in each pottery.

Mr. Eizan's ANAGAMA kiln, which is designed most traditionally and requires delicate and enormous efforts

One example of ANAGAMA pottery, monuments of good luck are also made.

Manufacturing Process - (1) Shaping

There are mainly five important processes of ANAGAMA pottery: shaping, kiln preparation, firing, unloading and finishing. Each process is a skilled technique for trained artisans, as detailed below.

The shaping process consists of three steps, pugging, forming and trimming.

Pugging process:
The molding of Matcha bowls begins with the process of finishing the original Shigaraki clay into pottery clay. The clay is poured into the KONRENKI kneading machine and the air in the clay is removed to create a vacuum. Generally, mass-produced tea ware may be finished with only this KONRENKI kneading machine, but Mr. Eizan Okuda uses the KONRENKI first and then kneads the clay by hand to avoid fluctuations in shape and texture. This is a very difficult process that requires a lot of strength. He makes sure that the clay is always finished in a circular pattern so that it is easy to use during the subsequent molding process. The potter's clay is selected in accordance with the image of the finished tea ware, and the distribution of clay is different for each type of tea ware. The distribution of clay for each type of tea ware is different, and the time for kneading also varies.

TEBINERI hand-forming process:
One-of-a-kind Matcha bowls are formed by layering long strands of ceramic clay on top of a spiral. In a process called TEBINERI, these hand-formed Matcha bowls leave an almost horizontal mark on the surface, which is a sign of authenticity. Dipping the potter's clay in water and molding it gently and flexibly with the TEBINERI process seems to require no force at all, giving the impression of the flow of water in a quiet stream. However, when the Matcha bowl is actually formed by the TEBINERI process, force is applied to create the intended form, and so that its shape does not collapse. On the other hand, if too much force is applied, the shape will be distorted, so the balance of the force is important. This one process determines the shape of the finished Matcha bowl and the quality of its design. TEBINERI is a process in which the molding technique Mr. Eizan Okuda has mastered in his long years of training can be utilized to the maximum extent.

Trimming process:
He uses his own wooden spatula, a plane, and a file made from deerskin for the molding process. These tools are made by his own hands and used separately for each type of tea ware.

The bottom part of the inside of the Matcha bowl is called CHADAMARI. Mr. Eizan Okuda is very careful about the angle of the CHADAMARI so that the beautiful green color of the Matcha will show up when the Matcha bubbles are left in the CHADAMARI.

On the other hand, the unevenness of the upper part of the bowl is made by considering the overall form and ease of use. He makes the unevenness of the upper part of the bowl, so that the Matcha spoon can be neatly placed there. This is the thoughtfulness of one who knows the tea ceremony.

The small pebble left on the surface of the Matcha bowl will be fired in the kiln and remain on the surface of the bowl itself. For ANAGAMA pottery, this small pebble alone is an important material for the unique expression of the bowl.

At the end of the molding process, Mr. Eizan Okuda scrapes off the excess clay with an original spatula at the KOHDAI bottom of the bowl. Even the KOHDAI determines the quality of the Matcha bowl. When he scrapes the KOHDAI, he takes care of the angle of the base and accentuates the form of the entire bowl by scraping it at a slight angle. Finally, he puts an original stamp on the bowl to prove that it is his work.

He creates his work in silence in his quiet studio. His work seems to be done single-mindedly, but he always imagines the final KESHIKI appearance of each Matcha bowl. His goal is to make each piece enjoyable to use in the tea ceremony.

On a particularly hot summer day, Mr.Eizan Okuda began working in his studio.

The clay is blended specifically for ANAGAMA.

KONRENKI remove the air from the clay.

He further kneads the clay by hand into a potter's clay appropriate for the product. This is very hard work.

It takes a high level of skill to do TEBINERI.

He's highly skilled.

Even deerskin is used in the shaping process.

A variety of the potter's original tools are used.

Each potter has a different expression when cutting with a spatula.


Approached the finish line, He carefully checks the workmanship.

Finally, he stamps a seal certifying that it is his work, and that's it.

(2) Kiln Preparation, Placement of Works inside the Kiln

ANAGAMA pottery is usually fired continuously for 4 days (96 hours) or more, using approximately 400 batches of firewood. Each batch has around 20 logs of firewood made from acicular trees. Japanese red pine makes a good natural glaze, however all bark must be removed because ash from bark does not create good glaze. It is not a simple task to prepare firewood for the kiln.

One of the most important steps before firing the kiln, is the arrangement or placement of the pottery inside the kiln. This is a trade secret of each artisan. The color and pattern of each ANAGAMA ceramic is created by fire in the ANAGAMA kiln and completely depends on where it is placed in relation to the flames. Each work is carefully placed, considering the path and direction of the fire in the kiln. The artisan positions the ceramics in the kiln, using his knowledge of how the flame will affect the color and pattern, and depending on how he wants the work to evolve.

Placement also affects the shape of each work. For example, if a Matcha bowl is set up sideways in the kiln, it naturally flattens when it is fired and the top face becomes a natural oval. When the Matcha bowl is placed sideways in the kiln, the fire makes contact with the inside of the Matcha bowl. So, the scene inside of the Matcha bowl becomes quite unique and excellent.

Shells are often used to add patterns on the works or adjust the burnt color. Shells are calcareous, containing high levels of calcium carbonate, so that they react to fire and create beautiful and intense color. Clam, abalone, and scallop are used as the situation demands.

As above, placement of each piece of pottery is one of the most important steps before firing the kiln. During placement, artisans carefully consider the color and pattern of the finished works. It is not unusual for the artisan to change and rearrange the position of the works several times before firing the kiln.

Batches of firewood. This is just part of the 400 batches of firewood which are burned for 4 days (96 hours) or more continuously without break.

Fireproof stones are used not only to hold the bowl in place during firing, but to add patterns to the work or to adjust the burnt color.

The inside of the kiln is very small and the work is hard for the potterShells used for adding patterns or adjusting the burned color. To add patterns, works are placed on the shells.

The inside of the kiln is very small and the work is hard for the potterThe inside of the kiln is very small and the work is hard for the artisan.

Fireproof stones are used not only to hold the bowl in place during firing, but to add patterns to the work or to adjust the burnt color.



All the potteries are set. All of them are arranged based on his vision.

Gradually, autumn is in the air.

(3) Firing the Kiln

ANAGAMA pottery is usually fired for 4 days (96 hours) or more continuously without break. Firewood is carefully placed in the kiln every 5 minutes. The burning temperature starts at 2,190F (1,200C) and peaks at 2,370F (1,300C) on the third or fourth day. The flame of the kiln is managed by Mr. Eizan Okuda and his assistants in turn, every six hours. During the four days of firing, the artisan can hardly sleep due to anticipation and the arduous process.

The artisan is able to precisely gauge and adjust the temperature in the kiln by watching the color of the smoke and changing the way of closing the mouth of the kiln and lid of the chimney. He can gauge the temperature in the kiln by the kinds of smoke coming out from the chimney. When black smoke emerges, the temperature is relatively low. Gray smoke means the temperature is in the middle range, while transparent smoke means the kiln is very hot.

The kiln can be closed using bricks, firewood, and an iron lid. If the iron lid is used, very little air can enter the kiln and the temperature does not rise. If bricks or firewood are used, air can easily enter the kiln, and the amount of air also can be precisely controlled.

In order to create the intended color and pattern, the artisan adjusts the conditions inside the ANAGAMA kiln, using an iron rod. It is not an easy task to change the position of works, using an iron rod through the small mouth of the kiln, which is only 11.8in x 11.8in (30cm x 30cm). It is also important work to control the flow of flames and ashes in the kiln.

At the last stage, on the third or fourth day, when the temperature in the kiln peaks at 2,370F (1,300C), a pillar of fire bursts forth from the chimney with an amazing sound. The scene is awesome and dramatic.

Mr. Eizan Okuda built his own ANAGAMA kiln in the traditional style with a steep incline and low ceiling. Fire can quickly and fully race around inside his ANAGAMA kiln, because of the strong air flow that can more easily enter the kiln by the steep incline and low ceiling. So, the unique and excellent color and pattern can be created. However, his style of ANAGAMA kiln requires highly skilled precision and enormous effort. Adjusting the temperature in the kiln is especially difficult. If the artisan loses his concentration even for a moment during the kiln firing, all of his works would be ruined.

Firing the kiln has just started.

Gray smoke emerging from the chimney

Putting woods on a fire

The kiln mouth is closed with a thick stone lid.

In order to create the intended color and pattern, the artisan adjusts the conditions inside the ANAGAMA kiln, using an iron rod.

It's slowly getting darker around the ANAGAMA kiln.

Controlling the flames and ashes requires a high level of skill.

A thermometer is used to confirm the temperature.

Fire is quickly racing around inside the kiln. The scene is very dynamic and completely captivating to anyone who sees it firsthand.

He has very earnest eyes for his dearest potteries.

He works with the staff to manage the kiln.

A pillar of fire bursts forth from the chimney in the silent night. The scene is dramatic.

(4) Unloading ANAGAMA Pottery from the Kiln

The process of unloading the kiln is one of the most important tasks in the creation of ANAGAMA pottery. This process, along with the temperature in the kiln and the cooling time, profoundly impacts the glaze color and its texture. When the kiln is cooled down by opening the chimney to circulate the air, the temperature in the kiln decreases, and a glassy texture of pottery is created. In contrast, when the temperature of the kiln is decreased only by the outdoor temperature, it takes more time to cool, and a muddy texture is created.
In general, ceramics fired in the kiln should be cooled for the same amount of time in which they were fired. Even though the kiln is cooled down for more than 4 days, the air in the kiln, the bricks, and the surface of the earth are still hot. Inside the kiln is very hot, like a sauna. Of course, each piece of pottery is also warm, and the artisan wears long sleeves, long pants, and work gloves even in the hot summer season. Everyone is soaked with sweat.
When the artisan is finished placing wood on the fire during the firing process, the kiln mouth is covered with mud in order not to lose the temperature, and only the chimney is opened. The kiln mouth is later broken down with great care.
Before the firing process, Mr. Eizan Okuda carefully places each piece of ANAGAMA pottery, based on its clay texture and size in order, so that all are created according to his vision. When the mouth of the kiln is opened, he evaluates and checks if all items are created as he imagined. His repetition of trial and error over many years has allowed him to produce his own unique natural glaze flow and texture.

When the kiln is unloaded, a blanket is spread over the ground in order to avoid breakage. A blanket is also useful to avoid the heat from the ground near the kiln. The room in the kiln is very small and its width is about 27.5 inches (70cm), so Mr. Eizan Okuda needs to curl up his body, to remove the pottery from the kiln. It is very hard work.

The kiln is tightly covered.

After the temperature drops, the blocked stone is crushed with a hammer.

Piled up ashes are put into dustpan.


The room in the kiln is very small, so the artisan Mr. Eizan Okuda needs to curl up his body, to remove the pottery from the kiln.

He carefully check the firing process one by one.

This is the moment when the hard work of these artists is rewarded and their joy is overflowing.

When the kiln is unloaded, a blanket is spread over the ground in order to avoid breakage. A blanket is also useful to avoid the heat from the ground near the kiln.

Various types of pottery are fired in long ANAGAMA kiln at one time.

(5) Finishing

The main process during finishing is polishing, which requires not only utmost attention but also patience and much time. The surface of recently fired works is very coarse, created by burst saltpeter and the rough texture of the clay. In order to smooth out the surface, the works must be carefully polished. However, if polished too much, the atmosphere is spoiled. If polished too little, the surface remains overly rough.

At first, the artisan very carefully polishes using a grindstone. In this phase, one must be extremely cautious to avoid removing too much burst saltpeter, otherwise it ruins the work.

Next, the unique finish of the piece is created in several stages, using rough sandpaper, a file made from deerskin, and coconut fiber at first and gradually transitioning to finer, more delicate papers and techniques. In this way, the surface of each piece evolves uniquely over time. The end result shows that the artisan has transferred his heart and soul into the work.

Above, we have described the main finishing process, which is completed by the artisan. But the final and supreme finishing is completed over many years by the person who takes the work into their home. The atmosphere of the appearance of ANAGAMA pottery deepens over time with use. A piece of fine ANAGAMA pottery, such as that created by Mr. Eizan Okuda, becomes a partner throughout the life of the individual who takes the work into their home.

The polishing process requires utmost attention, patience, and much time. It is one reason why very few artisans are able to produce ANAGAMA pottery.

Gently polish with rough sandpaper and a file made from deerskin.

Coconut fiber is also used as a finishing touch.

His signature stamped with a seal, it can also be found.

The finish working adds more depth to the look and feel of the product.

You can see his work in the attached gallery.