Usukiyaki began life around 200 years ago in the later years of the Edo period.
Originally starting as a pottery managed by the government of the han (domain) of Usuki, it is also known as “Suehiroyaki” and “Sarayamayaki” after the location of the original workshop. Four families of potters were summoned to Usuki to create Usukiyaki, from Shimabara (in Nagasaki), Koishiwara (in Fukuoka), and Komine (in Miyazaki). After around ten years of prosperity, however, the pottery went into
decline, and eventually ceased operations entirely.
Work is now underway here at Usukiyaki’s Sarayama workshop to breathe life once again into Usuki’s once-forgotten ceramic tradition, creating new, modern works based on the few historical records that remain from the pottery’s original incarnation.
Many pottery studios handle the production of porcelain and earthenware entirely separately from one another, but here in Usuki we create both types of ceramics together
in the same workshop.
Many of the creations of the craftsmen who originally came to Usuki from Shimabara consisted of dyed blue and white porcelain, but they also produced a number of works
with a round, flower-like shape; we have taken inspiration from these works in particular for our white porcelain flower series called ‘rinca’.The craftsmen who came from Koishiwara and Komine made their earthenware out of earth from their home regions,
but today we utilize purified kawara (tiling) clay from the roof tile workshop that stands at the site of the original pottery in the Suehiro district of Usuki. The gentle purification
process we use on this iron-rich red clay gives it a distinct and unique natural appearance and texture.
Usukiyaki is created around the concept that “a dish is a frame for the food that is served on it. ” Our ceramics, inspired by natural forms and materials, are created with the aim of bringing out the beauty of Usuki’s traditional culinary culture: ingredients harvested from our rich ocean and mountains, organic crops, and our long-standing miso, soy sauce, and sake industries to name a few examples. It is this culinary culture, along with the natural beauty and creative spirit of the Usuki region, that we hope to bring to the dinner tables of people around the world through our creations.