Okinawa Craft Industry Promotion CenterOkinawa Craft Industry Promotion Center

Tsuboya-yaki (Tsuboya Pottery)

Brief Summary and History

Tsuboya-yaki refers to pottery produced using techniques refined across centuries of tradition, and is characterized by a quiet strength and simplicity. Tsuboya-yaki may be divided into two main categories – “kamiyaki”, which involves glazing and firing of pottery at high temperatures of about 1200 degree Celsius, remains the main form of Tsuboya-yaki and is mainly used to make tableware for daily use such as bowls and plates, and “arayaki”, also known as nanban-yaki, a form of unglazed pottery that is fired at around 1120 degree Celsius that is primarily used to produce larger sized urns and vessels.

The Ryukyu Kingdom, which conducted active overseas trade between the 14th to 16th centuries, served as a bustling center of pottery production in East Asia. As overseas trade gradually declined after Satsuma invaded the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1609, then-King Shoshin invited Korean potters from Satsuma in an effort to refine techniques in pottery-making. At this time, techniques that led to the production of arayaki were cultivated along with the incorporation of various pottery-making techniques from various regions within East Asia, which culminated in the birth of kamiyaki. In 1682, the kingdom officials integrated Chibana kiln of Misato Village, Takaraguchi Kiln of Shuri and Wakuta Kiln in Naha to the south of Makishi Village, a move that has led to tsuboya-yaki seen today.

Basic data

MaterialShimajiri clay, Kise clay, Kogachi clay, Ishikawa clay, Maeganeku clay, Afuso clay, Jāgaru clay, Bīmata clay
Place of manufactureNaha City, Onna Village, Yomitan Village
Main ProductsTableware, houseware, "tachibin" (vessel for containing "awamori", Okinawa liquor), shīsā (guardian lion dogs), "jīshi-gami" urns
Partnership name and date of establishmentTsuboya-yaki Business Cooperative Association, September 29th, 1975
Date designated by nationalJune 2nd, 1976
Date designated by prefecture11th June, 1974
Source*Source: "An Outline of Promotion Strategies for the Craft Industry"; official website of Tsuboya-yaki Business Cooperative Association (

Place of manufacture

Naha City, Onna Village, Yomitan Village

Tsuboya-yaki is currently produced in various regions of Okinawa Prefecture. Although most parts of Okinawa suffered severe damage due to WWII, the pottery industry was quick to initiate reconstruction efforts primarily in Tsuboya, Swift recovery of the industry paved the way for the establishment of the Tsuboya-yaki Business Cooperative Association in 1975, and the construction of a cooperative hall in 1976. However, as postwar recovery led to an increase in residential housing, smoke pollution from wood-fired kilns became a problem. In a move to protect public safety, the use of wood-fired kilns were banned in Naha City, and remaining kilns in Tsuboya were made to fire their kilns with gas or kerosene instead. Potters who preferred using wood-fired kilns moved northwards to Yomitan Village. Originally a region steep in traditional arts and craft, Yomitan has now become a major center of pottery production along with Tsuboya. Popular items in Tsuboya-yaki include shīsā (guardian lion dogs) as well as tableware and houseware.

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