Mizuya, fine Japanese tableware

Shino-yaki is one of the most loved varieties of ceramics, both for the table and the tearoom. Named for its Shino glaze, which ranges from snowy white to deep cream and on to grey and even orange — and thick, curdled texture that often shows small holes, what’s not to love? Spiritual, ephemeral and other-worldly, Shino-yaki is certainly distinctive in its zen-like simplicity.

We like to use Shino ware in winter, as the glaze reminds us of snow and the thick glaze which covers usually thick vessels holds the heat of a cup of tea so well.

This was Japan’s first white glaze, and is made of ground feldspar mixed with clay. Where the glaze is thin, the feldspar sometimes stains the clay either deep brown, called okoge (scorch) or bright red, called hi-e (fire marks). These accidental marks — so beautiful, yet unpredictable — are loved by connoisseurs of tea.

Shino first appeared in the Momoyama era (1568-1600) but the glaze fell out of favor in the early 18th century when green and brown Oribe glazes became popular. In the 19th century, there was a brief resurgence, after which it disappeared until the 20th century.

Shino plate with pine motif
Above: Shino plate with subtle underpainting of pines.
Hi-e, red scorch marks on Shino glaze
Above: Detail of red hi-e fire marks. Left: Old e-shino chawan.
Shino teacup
Above: A beautiful curdled shino glaze covers this old teacup.


e-Shino Chawan

When Shino glazes cover drawings painted in iron oxide, they appear and disappear under the varying thickness of the glaze, creating a magnetic effect, as seen in the chawan (tea bowl) above and platter to the right. These are known as e-Shino (e means picture).

Nezumi Shino
When the drawings are etched into a layer of iron oxide which is then covered in Shino glaze, the result is a grey field with light drawings. This is known as nezumi (mouse) Shino.

Shino today
Shino ware is popular today, and the glaze covers tea cups, rice bowls, and a multitude of Japanese tableware. Modern potters using Shino glazes often intentionally exaggerate glaze imperfections to cause glaze skips and holes, which heighten the effect of the red marks, so the overall color looks orange.

We have a limited quantity of Shino ware at our Japanese tableware gallery, Mizuya.