What is the difference between pottery and porcelain? Explain the features and history!

February 21, 2021

陶器と磁器の違いって何?特徴や歴史について解説!

Tableware made of various materials such as pottery and porcelain is lined up on the Japanese dining table.
It's a common sight now, but did you know that the history of pottery and porcelain is old?

In this article, we will explain the differences and history of pottery and porcelain, as well as introduce how to wash and care for them, and recommended products for each of pottery and porcelain.

table of contents

  1. What is pottery?
  2. What is porcelain?
  3. Differences between the characteristics of pottery and porcelain
  4. History of pottery and porcelain
  5. How to wash and care for pottery and porcelain
  6. Pottery is recommended for these people
  7. Shoyo Kiln Ao Shinogi Free Cup
  8. Furuya Ceramics Co., Ltd. Rust glaze ring flower small bowl
  9. Tsugaru Kanayama Yaki Oval Curry Bowl Large Apple Forest
  10. Tsuchimoto Ceramics UZU Plate M Antique White
  11. Yachimun Pottery Kiln 6 inch plate Dyed dots (Ameolibe)
  12. Porcelain is recommended for these people
  13. Arita porcelain Kinshodou Rin LIN NEW YORK EARTH mug
  14. Hasami ware indigo dyeing kiln bronze oval bowl blue
  15. Kaneko Kohyo Pottery Giyaman Pottery Eggplant Navy Blue 4 inch Plate
  16. Usuki-yaki Rinka Goblet
  17. Banko ware indigo kiln morning plate (Bedro)
  18. Summary Know the difference between pottery and porcelain, and create a dish that will color your life

| What is pottery?

Pottery hot water

Pottery uses clay as the main raw material and is baked at 800 to 1,300 ° C.
Because it uses clay, it is also called "earthenware".

The characteristic of pottery is that it is hard to heat and cool.
Due to its low thermal conductivity, it is recommended for hot drinks.

It also has higher water absorption than porcelain, but it does not allow water to pass through.
The reason is that glaze is applied.

The following are some of the famous Japanese pottery.

Shigaraki ware Banko ware Mino ware Karatsu ware
Seto ware Mashiko ware Hagi ware Bizen ware
Tamba ware Onta ware

[What is glaze?]
A chemical applied to the surface of unglazed pottery. If you apply it, it will become glassy by baking. It is possible to give a glossy finish and prevent the penetration of water.

| What is porcelain?

Porcelain hot water

Porcelain uses porcelain as the main raw material and is baked at about 1,200 to 1,400 ° C.
Specifically, we use stone powder that is crushed and pulverized from pottery stone.
Therefore, it is also called a "stone" by another name.

Compared to pottery, it features extremely low water absorption and high hardness.
Another characteristic of porcelain is that it has high thermal conductivity and is "easy to heat and cool".

The following are some of the famous porcelains in Japan.

Kutani ware Tobe ware Kyo ware Arita ware (Imari ware)

| Differences between pottery and porcelain

Porcelain coffee cup

As I mentioned above, pottery and porcelain have different characteristics.
There are differences not only in the materials and production areas used, but also in the manufacturing method and finish.

Below, we will introduce the differences between pottery and porcelain from various angles.

Differences between pottery and porcelain manufacturing methods

Pottery and porcelain are collectively called "porcelain".
The basic manufacturing method of this pottery is as follows.

  1. Raw material preparation
  2. Earth kneading
  3. Molding
  4. Baking
  5. Kiln opening


In these five processes, there is a difference between pottery and porcelain in "(1) preparation of raw materials" and "(4) firing".
First, the preparation of raw materials is as follows.

Pottery porcelain
① Dig out clay ① Dig out pottery stone
② Dry and crush ② Crush the pottery stone into small pieces
② Dissolve in water and let it air dry ② Mix water to make clay

As you can see, there are differences in the raw materials themselves and in the preparation process.
As for the base material, pottery is softer and less glassy, ​​so it is more porous.
Porcelain is hard-baked and has less pores due to its glassiness.

Next is the difference in firing.
Pottery is generally baked at a temperature of 800 to 1,300 ° C for 10 to 48 hours.
Porcelain is hotter than pottery at 1,200-1,400 ° C.
For porcelain, bake at a lower temperature after painting.

Due to these differences in the process, the finish will also differ.

Difference in finish between pottery and porcelain

Basically, the main components of pottery are feldspar, silica stone, and clay.
By changing the ratio of each, the texture and texture of each pottery and porcelain will be different.

For example, the ratio is as follows.

Pottery porcelain
Feldspar 10% 30%
Silica stone 40% 40%
clay 50% 30%

Pottery has less glass than porcelain.
Less glass makes it easier to absorb water.
Therefore, pottery has a higher water absorption rate than porcelain, and porcelain has a water absorption rate of almost 0%.

There is also a difference in the sound when played with a finger.
Pottery does not burn as much as porcelain, so it makes a dull sound.
On the other hand, porcelain is hardened, so it makes a high-pitched sound.

This is not the only difference between pottery and porcelain.
I have summarized the features and differences of each in a table in an easy-to-understand manner.

Pottery porcelain
Main raw material Ceramic clay Pottery stone
Base material Roasted soft and porous Roasted and has few pores
Water absorption About 10% * Normally, the glaze does not allow water to pass through. Almost 0%
Transparency None Yes
Tint There are many light colors Pure white
Thickness It is thick and easy to break if dropped Hard and thin
surface Rough It's slippery
Sound when played with a finger Dull low sound Clear high sound

| History of pottery and porcelain

Porcelain tea set

Pottery and porcelain are now commonly used, but their history is said to have started more than 10,000 years ago.
By touching the history, you will be able to know more about its charm as a vessel.

From here, we will introduce the history of pottery and porcelain.

The beginning of pottery is more than 10,000 years ago

More than 10,000 years ago, when farming and livestock farming began, earthenware began to be made for cooking and stockpiling food.
Jomon pottery and Yayoi pottery are famous as pottery.

The Hajiki pottery that appeared after that was produced from the Kofun period (5th century) to the Nara and Heian periods.
There are various theories, but there is also a story that it was produced until the Edo period.
At the same time, there was also a ceramic pottery called Sueki.

During the Asuka and Nara periods, unglazed pottery using glaze began to be produced.
Green glaze pottery and Sansai pottery are famous as pottery of this era.

And during the Kamakura period, various kilns were built all over Japan.
These kilns still exist today and are venerable kilns called "Rokkoyo".

Six old kilns
Kiln name Origin
Seto ware Seto City, Aichi Prefecture
Tokoname kiln Chita Peninsula, Aichi Prefecture
Echizen kiln Ota Town, Fukui Prefecture
Shigaraki kiln Shigaraki Town, Shiga Prefecture
Tamba kiln Taki District, Hyogo Prefecture
Bizen kiln Bizen City, Okayama Prefecture

During the Azuchi-Momoyama period, tea ceremony became popular.
Partly because of this, Japanese pottery has developed independently.

Also, by this time, each production area will demand its own color.
Typical examples are "Seto Black", "Kiseto", "Shino White", and "Oribe Green".

The beginning of porcelain was in the Edo period

Porcelain began to be used in Japan in the Edo period, after pottery.
A potter "Yi Sam-pyeong" from Korea discovers pottery stones in Arita, Saga Prefecture.
He started by making porcelain called Imari using the pottery stone.

With the advent of porcelain, colored porcelain by Sakaida Kakiemon and others was founded.
In addition, it has come to be treated as a gift to the shogunate and generals.
In this way, the number of colorful porcelain increases, and porcelain production spreads throughout Japan from the latter half of the Edo period to the end of the Edo period.

In the Meiji era, the pottery industry developed further with the advent of Western culture.
It will be possible to mass-produce cheap and high-quality porcelain, and will continue to modern porcelain.

| How to wash and care for pottery and porcelain

Because pottery and porcelain are used on a daily basis, you need to be careful about how to wash them on a daily basis.
Also, if you treat historic pottery and porcelain carefully, you will become more attached to them.

Here, we will introduce how to wash and care for pottery and porcelain.

"Stop" before using

I talked about pottery having higher water absorption than porcelain.
Therefore, it has the characteristic that the water and oil of the dish easily soak into it.
Repeated use may cause stains and odors.

There is a "sealing" as a way to prevent such problems.
Follow the steps below to seal.

  1. Prepare rice soup
  2. Put a bowl on the soup
  3. Bring to a boil for 15 to 20 minutes

By sealing, you can prevent water and oil from seeping into the container.
Also, regardless of whether it is pottery or porcelain, it is necessary to be careful because cracks may occur in the glass layer on the surface, which is called "penetration".
When intrusion appears, water will permeate through the cracks and cause mold, so be careful.

Be careful not to rub when washing

Be careful not to rub the overpainted pottery and porcelain.
In particular, if the item is gold or silver, the picture may come off, so be careful.
Use a soft material such as a sponge to gently wash.

Also, for pottery with high water absorption, let's dry it thoroughly after washing to prevent mold.

If you slip your hand while washing or using it and break the vessel, you may be able to repair it with "kintsugi".
Kintsugi will give you a different texture, so if it breaks, don't throw it away immediately and consider kintsugi.

| Pottery is recommended for people like this

Pottery is recommended when you want to feel the warmth because it is characterized by its soft color.
Also, because of the nature of the soil, it has an excellent heat retention effect, so it is perfect for those who want to take a break.

And the rough surface has the effect of mellowing bubbles.
It is also recommended for those who like sparkling drinks such as carbonated drinks.

Then, I will introduce the recommended products of pottery.

| Shoyo Kiln Ao Shinogi Free Cup

It is a "Ao Shinogi Free Cup" from Tamba-yaki and Shoyo kiln.
This "Ao series" is a very popular series with a very beautiful matte blue-green color.
Its deep color is dignified and calm and wonderful.
The beautifully applied surface creates a gorgeous and elegant atmosphere on the dining table.

See details of Shoyo Kiln Ao Shinogi Free Cup

| Furuya Ceramics Co., Ltd. Rust glaze ring flower small bowl

It is a "rust glaze flower small bowl" from Shigaraki ware and Furuya Ceramics.
The matte texture gives warmth, making it a very rustic vessel.
The antique design will make your dining table look fashionable.

Furuya Ceramics Co., Ltd. See details of rust glaze ring flower small bowl

| Tsugaru Kanayama Yaki Oval Curry Bowl Large Apple Forest

This is Tsugaru Kanayama Yaki's "Oval Curry Bowl Large Apple Forest".
It is a curry bowl with a cute pattern of polka dots.
It is a product that combines the simplicity of baking and the ease of use of glaze.

Tsugaru Kanayama Yaki Oval Curry Pot See details of the large apple forest

| Tsuchimoto Ceramics UZU Plate M Antique White

It is "UZU plate M antique white" of Banko ware and Tsuchimoto pottery.
A beautiful product with a slightly creamy white in an antique atmosphere.
It is a color that complements the dishes, and you can feel the warmth of the earthenware.

Tsuchimoto Ceramics UZU Plate M See details of antique white

| Yachimun Pottery Kiln 6 inch plate Dyed dots (Ameolibe)

It is "6 inch plate dyed dot (Ameoribe)" of Yachimun pottery and pottery kiln.
The round pattern is a lovely product that gives you a feeling of Yachimun.
You can put toast for breakfast or use it as a large plate.

Yachimun Pottery Kiln 6 inch plate See details of dyed dots (Ameolibe)

| Porcelain is recommended for these people

Many porcelains give a cool impression.
Therefore, it is perfect when you want to create a cool atmosphere.

In addition, because the mouth is thin, the porcelain has a clean mouthfeel.
Recommended for those who want to enjoy the original taste of tea.
If it is made of white porcelain, it is also good to enjoy the light blue color of Ochanomizu.

Then, I will introduce the recommended products of porcelain.

| Arita porcelain Kinshodou Rin LIN NEW YORK EARTH mug

"Rin LIN NEW YORK EARTH mug" from Arita porcelain and Kinshodou.
It has a metallic impression and an antique design.
It is a fun product that shows various expressions depending on the angle and just looks at it.

View details of Arita porcelain Kinshodou Rin LIN NEW YORK EARTH mug

| Hasami ware indigo dyeing kiln bronze oval bowl blue

"Bronze oval bowl blue" from Hasami ware and Aizen kiln.
The bronze series of indigo dyeing kilns has become a very popular product due to its vintage feel.
The matte and slightly rough texture creates a unique atmosphere and is very unique.
Bright yet calm blue colors the table.

See details of Hasami ware Aizen kiln bronze oval bowl blue

| Kaneko Kohyo Pottery Giyaman Pottery Eggplant Navy Blue 4 inch Plate

"Giyaman pottery eggplant navy blue blue four-inch plate" from Mino ware and Kaneko Kohyo Pottery.
"Giyaman" means glass used from the Edo period to the early Meiji period.
It is a product that expresses a graceful texture like glass and a texture like lacquer ware.
The deep blue is very beautiful and has a luxurious atmosphere.

Kaneko Kohyo Pottery Factory Giyaman Pottery Eggplant Navy Blue Blue See details of 4 inch plate

| Usuki-yaki Rinka Goblet

It is "Rinka Goblet" of Usuki-yaki / USUKIYAKI Research Institute.
It is a goblet with an antique and sophisticated atmosphere.
It is recommended not only for drinks but also for serving cut fruits.

See details of Usuki-yaki Rinka Goblet

Banko ware indigo kiln morning plate (Bedro)

"Morning plate (Bedro)" from Banko ware and Ai kiln Horiuchi Ceramics.
With a light green color, it is a perfect container for a refreshing morning time.
The simple design makes it a perfect match for any dish.

View details of Banko ware indigo kiln morning plate (Bedro)

| Summary Know the difference between pottery and porcelain, and create a dish that will color your life

Porcelain small plate

This time, we introduced the historical pottery and porcelain.
Its history began more than 10,000 years ago and has supported Japanese life to the present day.
With the passage of time, various kilns were born in various places, and vessels with different characteristics were made in each area.

Generally, pottery and porcelain are often collectively referred to as "pottery", but in reality there are many differences in the manufacturing method, raw materials, and finish.
If you actually compare them with your hands, you will be able to feel the difference more.

Why don't you take this opportunity to pick up pottery and porcelain and make it a colorful dining table.

You can see the products of pottery and porcelain from here.

Yachimun
Arita porcelain
Hasami ware
Tamba ware
Shigaraki ware
Kyo ware and Kiyomizu ware
Tsugaru ware
Mino ware
Banko ware
Usuki-yaki
Kasama ware




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