Located in Sawara Ward, Mirakugama is Takatori ware kiln celebrating its 300th anniversary this year. Miraku Kamei, the 15th-generation owner, continues making traditional pottery together with his son, who is scheduled to succeed him. Takatori ware flourished in the Edo era under the patronage of the Kuroda Clan, and Mirakugama is now the only kiln that remains inside the city limits.
The stoneware traces its roots back to a potter named Hassan who was brought back from the Korean Peninsula by Nagamasa Kuroda, the first lord of the Fukuoka Domain. He opened his first kiln in 1606 at the foot of Mt. Takatori in what is now Nogata City. Hassan was granted samurai status and took the name Hachizo Takatori, and later, his stoneware would become known as Takatori ware.
The Takatori ware kiln moved several times over the years, and the potting style changed each time. The first generation of Takatori ware that was created near Mt. Takatori exudes a more rustic beauty, and these pieces are known as Old Takatori. When Tadayuki Kuroda succeeded his father as the second lord of the domain, he sent Hachizo to study teaware under the renowned potter Kobori Enshu. As such, Takatori ware from this period is called Enshu Takatori, and it is typified by a more refined style. Hachizo’s kiln soon came to be counted among Enshu’s top seven favorite kilns, the so-called Enshu Nanagama.
Later, the kiln was relocated to Toho Village in Asakura District, and pieces from this era are called Koishiwara Takatori. During the time of Tsunamasa, the domain’s fourth lord, the Takatori ware kiln moved again, this time to a spot not far from Fukuoka Castle. By this time, the kiln was being run by Hachizo’s descendants and pupils, and the current Mirakugama traces its history back to this time. Mirakugama has a museum space where it exhibits Old Takatori and other pieces, and it also offers occasional pottery classes. Why not stop by and try your hand at potting?
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn227, Nov. 2017)