How to make a Kohiki Plate

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Kohiki is a traditional style of pottery with a rich history in the Asian continent. Kohiki has a long history in Japan and is now part of several cultures around the world. It has a shiny dark clay body covered in porcelain, as is famous in pots and teacups that emanate from Japan.


Characteristics of traditional Kohiki Tableware

  • A soft white color
  • The pottery develops more character with continued usage – these changes are known as ‘keshiki,’ which means, appreciation of scenery
  • The body’s covering is an ash glaze and white slip, which resembles the surface of a sprinkled powder

Variations of Kohiki

The various types of Kohiki are dependent on multiple factors. Takeo Kokaratsu is an original invention of the city adjoining Takeo. Other variations include Taku Kokaratsu and Hirado Kokaratsu.

Various types depend on the style of the pottery, such as the following:

  • Painted Kokaratsu
  • Mottled Kokaratsu
  • Snakeskin Karatsu
  • Carved Karatsu
  • White Slip Karatsu
  • Mishima Karatsu
  • Yellow Karatsu
  • Nisai Karatsu
  • Brushed Slip Karatsu
  • Combed Slip Karatsu
  • Okugōrai
  • Seto Karatsu
  • Green Karatsu
  • Korean Karatsu, is famous for its sturdy frame and style. Karatsu engineering was from a clay wit rich iron content that allows easy customization for decoration and redecoration. Karatsu has various types of simple natural styling and feel.

Types of Karatsu Kohiki

Brush decorated

This type has various images of birds, flowers, plants, and other mythological creatures. It has an earthy color and simple designs. The piece is a semitransparent gray and has excellent exposure for the underglaze decorations.

Chosen Karatsu

This traditional style became famous after its introduction to Japan, during the invasion by Korea by potters from the Joseon Dynasty. It has a black glaze under the white glaze that has a firing from straw. The two glazes run along the same lines of the decorations and give an impression of seamless and complementary opposition.

Truth of Iga

Kohiki originates from Iga and uses a coarse clay type that has a high content of fossilized microorganisms. Iga-yaki is handcrafted artistry that has the signature of wabi-sabi. The look has plenty of praise from pottery lovers from Japan who appreciate hand art.

Authentic Iga-yaki by Nagatani-en

This pottery style is one of Japan’s most highly sought traditional ceramics. It is the creation of an 1832 Iga=Yaki potter with an origin from Mie-Prefecture.


History of Japanese Ceramics

History reveals that the techniques used in pottery have an origin in the Korean Peninsula. The history of this age-defying world art has its trace back to more than 10,000 years ago, in the age of Jomon. The introduction of agriculture from Asia had the accompaniment of various kinds of unglazed earthenware.


Stoneware production began in Japan with the creation of Sue Ware. The necessary technology evolved to undertake the use of the potter’s wheel and kilns. Eventually, the makers had enough tools and know-how to create fire ash and iron glazes.


The subsequent period of Azuci Momoyana had the most rampant tea ceremonies. The emergence of new types of ceramics was a quest to reflect the aesthetics of the then-tea masters.


Benefits of Kohiki ware in ancient times

Creation of original everyday items like pitchers, tableware, and other household items

Production of foreign commercial and trade products

Tea ceremonies by relished members of the society, such as Samurai Warriors


How to make a Kohiki Plate

Visit a Japanese ceramics center

Many pottery stations around Japan have a specialty for the creation of Kohiki ware. You can check in to one of the touristic locations for a first-hand experience with the descendants of the original artistry. Here is a small list of places you can book:

  • Kominka at the Mashiko Tougei Club
  • Mashikoyako at Kobo Fuwari
  • Tokyo’s Shimatachi at YANESEN
  • Omotesando in Saideigama
  • The JIC ceramic studio
  • Studio Goen at Hakone and Izu resorts

Learn and do the techniques


  • Clay that fits into the palm of your hands
  • Two pairs of sticks with different and matching styles and measurements
  • Knife
  • Spatula
  • Black mica
  • Ash glaze – An impervious coat that fuses with the plate under high firing temperatures

Preparing ash glaze

  • Burn a large volume of wood or straw in a kiln
  • Put the ash through a sieve to eliminate lumps
  • Add water to the mixture and let it settle for a few hours
  • Drain and dry the solution to get an ash solution free of excess toxins

Preparing ash glaze to coat clay involves making an aqueous solution with water, aluminum, and a metal oxide like Chromium oxide or Lead Oxide. You can glaze the plate by dipping it into the solution, spraying it with an airbrush or applying it directly with another tool

Preparing clay

  • Prepare 1800g of clay for each plate
  • Scale 0.7 percent of clay for black mica and pour it between pieces of each clay separation to mark a black spot
  • Roll the mold by spiral wedging and rough wedging with your hands to get the air out

There are two ways of creating Kahoki plates with a wheel

Method 1

  • Flatten the clay mold on a flat table with the ball of your hand
  • Pat the clay gently to prevent stickiness to the table, then roll it over
  • Place the sticks on each side of the clay and roll out the flat could until it matches the thickness of the stick
  • Switch the clay on either side and continue the roll until you get the perfect thickness
  • Cut out the shape with the intended form of items such as a circular lid or a square paper
  • Smoothen the edges with a spatula
  • Place the cut-out on the center of the wheel and spin it to make sure it is in place
  • Spin the wheel and make a border marking with a pencil in a direction that will not cause damage to the surface
  • Remove the plate and decorate as you please. The most common decorations are pencil lines and texture
  • Cut out the border using a sharp tool
  • Tidy the edges with a spatula
  • Roll up the edges to imitate a real plate, and hold it in shape by placing small folded newspaper pieces underneath
  • Put the mold to the side and let it dry before glazing it


Method 2

  • Set a drying bat on the wheel with clay
  • Moisten the drying bat and place the ball of clay on top the spinning wheel
  • Center the clay on the rotating wheel and mold it upwards until you make a blunt cone
  • Push the clay downwards with the tip of your palm until it reaches the exact size of the desired plate
  • Open the center of the clay using a sponge
  • Flatten the surface using a spatula
  • Push the edge down to form the rim
  • Smoothen the surface using a spatula
  • Smooth the edges by cutting off the surface with a wire
  • Let the plate dry for a few days
  • Prepare the white slip after the waiting period and pour it onto the plate
  • Load the biscuit firing up to 800 Celsius
  • Prepare ash glaze to glaze the plate, then wait for it to dry for a few days
  • Remove the glaze on the rim at the bottom of the plate by rubbing it on a towel
  • Put the plate under reduced firing of 1230 degree Celsius
You can use a combination of dipping, pouring, and brushing to get the desired texture and color. What follows are glazing techniques that will improve your glazing results by a significant difference:
  • Work with clean hands to avoid creating resist spots that compromise the glaze’s evenness
  • Remove dust before each step
  • Remove rough spots using silicon carbide
  • Mix the glaze well before dipping the plate
  • Scrap off as much unwanted glaze as possible with a dental tool or a damp sponge
Inside information on making a Kohiki plate

Richard L. Wilson has a deeply researched paperback book on the techniques and traditions of Japanese ceramics. The practical manual is a hands-on guide that expresses all the details of making various types of tools and materials. The main concentration of the book helps a newbie potter learn major schemes and styles with ease – It has enough photos, line drawings, and techniques, to create a wide array of remarkable products.


The best part is you will not spend more than $30 for fifteen used copies, or $20 for 21 new copies. Purchasing the book means you get to enjoy the knowledge of more than how to make a Kohiki plate. Begin your Japanese cultural indulgence today by making pottery a sumptuous hobby with our easy-to-use guide.

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