About Zeze ware
— One of the seven Enshu kilns
Zeze ware started in the early Edo period(1603-1868) as the official kiln of the Shogun, based on the aesthetic sense of Enshu Kobori.
Early works were made as gifts for feudal lords, so many of the tea caddies and water jugs were crafted by skilled potters using carefully selected materials. The legendary tea containers of Oe and Hakuun are also featured in treasures from ancient to medieval eras which had pleased Enshu's fine sense of aesthetics eye. Zeze ware, which had flourished along with Zeze Castle, eventually declined as time passed by.
Regretting the demise of this famous kiln, Kenzo Iwasaki planned to revive it in 1919 with the help of artists such as Shunkyo Yamamoto. His successor, Shinjo Iwasaki, worked tirelessly to build the foundation of modern Zeze ware, while keeping the traditional aesthetics of Zeze ware in its original form and style.
We currently produce a wide variety of ceramics such as colored and dyed, based on the traditional techniques centering on Zeze glaze. As one of the seven Enshu kilns, we will continue striving to improve our tea ceremony ceramics.
The origin of the word "Zeze" is another way to pronounce the Kanji character "膳(zen)所(sho)", which literally means "cuisine""place". This origin led to the interpretation that it was the emperor's "place to prepare Zen(food)" when the Otsu Capital was built by the Emperor Tenji (AD 626 - 672) in 657. The origin of Zeze ware is not certain, but it is assumed to have existed since long ago, because people needed vessels from the earth cultivated in the Zeze area. After the Battle of Sekigahara, the Edo period of the Tokugawa government came and peace was restored. Kirei sabi is an aesthetic world created by Enshu Kobori. The essence of the word is simplicity and elegance. Sabi comes from the word sabishī (deserted), originally referring to the state of things being withered and old. Now Sabi connotes austere elegance that comes with age. Kirei (beauty) sabi embraces not only the spirits of Sabi with. beauty, brilliance, and abundance, it also expresses the elegant beauty seen objectively. This mindset of Kirei Sabi was the beginning of modern Zeze ware.
As for true historical proof, we have Enshu's letter addressed to the Lord of Zeze. The letters were written in the Kan-ei era in the 1620s, with detailed guidance about the Zeze Ware. In other words, Zeze ware has passed through more than 400 years of modern history to the present. Based on the guidance of Enshu Kobori, Zeze ware received a shogunal warrant. Reflecting the aesthetic sense of the Samurai, it was prized as tea ceremony ware, and existed until the late Edo period. After that, Zeze ware overcame a crisis of decline during the Meiji Restoration and was restored in 1919 by the local family, a prominent local family. Currently, it has been handed down by "Zeze Ware Kageroen Co., Ltd.".