Bizen has a history dating back a thousand years. It became very popular in ritual tea ceremonies among generals during the late 16th century wars, and was often given as gifts for the emperor or shogun in the 17th century.
Bizen clay has a high iron content, giving it a traditional red base colour. The unique and various patterns on the pottery is created when brown ash from burnt pine tree logs moulds itself onto the pieces in a kiln reaching 1200℃. This high temperature causes the ash to disintegrate and a chemical reaction turns it into glass, producing earthenware that is incredibly hard. The patient craftsmen of Bizen find pride in creating their pottery then placing them in the kiln, keeping the logs burning for two weeks day and night, all the while praying to the god of fire. This humble tradition has carried Bizen’s artisans for over a thousand years, and you will never see the same pattern in any Bizen pottery. The individual pottery design you see here is the only one in the world! Basic simplicity, warmth, and the feel of the earth: these are the key facets to the love of Bizen.
During the Edo era (1603–1868), Ikeda, the daimyo (lord) of the Bizen domain, established the system of 'Warrant of Appointment' for Bizen pottery, whereby only six potteries were permitted to produce Bizen pottery, secured and protected by the daimyo. Today, Toukei Do is one of the original six permitted that was run by the Kimura family several hundred years ago. Hideaki Kimura is of the 18th generation and carries into the future the history and traditions of Bizen.