What’s “Blue and White” pottery and it’s history

“Blue and white pottery” are called “Sometsuke” in Japanese. Pottery and porcelain are decorated under the glaze with a blue pigment, generally cobalt oxide.

The following gallery shows my recent “Sometuke” works.

What is the “Gosu”

The cobalt pigment is one if of the very few that can withstand the highest firing temperatures that are required. Historically, many other colors required over glaze decoration and then a second firing at a lower temperature to fix it. This painting method is called “Uwaetsuke” (Over glaze painting)


The origin of this decorative style was imported from China.  White Chinese  stoneware with their own glazed, white pottery and added decorative motifs in blue glazes.

Blue and white decoration first became widely used in Chinese porcelain the 14th century.

Blue and white ware making is appearance in Japan.   Where it was known as sometsuke. Various forms and decorations were highly influenced by China, but later developed its own forms and styles.

Gosu and how to use of it

A variety of the “Gosu” are available from pottery supplier.  Blue, Black and also various colors of the gosu  is available.  Some of them are come as powder or paste.

In kyoto (Kiyomizu Yaki), a gosu is crushed by the grinding ball mill for a month.

How to use the gosu:                                                                                                              Use the gosu with tapped water or green tea.   Some pro pottery painter prefer using green tea over the water. If green tea is used, make sure that all tea waste are removed.

Green tea contains “tannin” component. This main green tea component will combine with cobalt oxide and become tannin oxide. The tannin oxide will work as adhesive.

How to mix own “Gosu” -Formulation example

Here’s formulation example:

  •  Cobalt oxide    20
  • Nickel oxide    10
  • Manganese dioxide 10
  • Kaolin 50

Please use as reference only and be careful to make at your own risk. The final results are not guaranteed. 

How to practice “Sometuke”  YouTube


How to improve your “Sometsuke” techniques

  • Use quality paint brush, need high quality fine point brush for line drawing (Known as “Kotsugaki”) and “Dami ” brush–a fat brush to paint wide area.
  • Grind gosu well with a mortar and pestle
  • Decorate a lot of works–More you do, become better

Pottery Gallery | Have a fun with cray works. Ultimate goals of pottery work for amateur potters

Our family treasure of  pottery works.

This cry elephant was made by our son Kiyoshi at the kinder Garden at the age of around five in many moons ago.

Zodiac Symbol of years

Objet de’art   OBJECT


Japanese Imperial Dolls for “Hinamatsuri”

Miscellaneous goods

Make a Japanese Samurai Helmet for the “Boy’s Day” | Easy pottery for everyone with a slab building

The Gosekku, also known as sekku are the five annual ceremonies that were traditionally held in Japan. The origins were adapted from Chinese practices and celebrated in Japan since the Nara period in the 8-10th century. Some of them are still celebrated by the public today.

Jinjitsu:  on Jan. 7th “Nanakusa-gayu” Rice porridge with 7 herbs
Hinamatsuri: on March 3rd  “Girls Day or Doll Festival”
Tango: on May 5th “Children’s Day or Boys Day”
Tanabata :  on July 7th ” Tanabata Festival”
Chōyō:  on September 9th “Chrysanthemum Festival”

Children’s Day is a Japanese national holiday which takes place annually on May 5,
It is a day set aside to respect children’s personalities and to celebrate their happiness. It was designated a national holiday.

The day was originally called Tango no Sekku and was celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth moon in the lunar calendar or Chinese calendar. After Japan switched to the Gregorian calendar, the date was moved to May 5.

Until recently, Tango no sekku was known as Boys’ Day (also known as Feast of Banners) while Girls’ Day (Hinamatsuri) was celebrated on March 3.

On this day, families raise the carp-shaped koinobori flags (carp because of the Chinese legend that a carp that swims upstream becomes a dragon, and the way the flags blow in the wind looks like they are swimming), with one carp for the father, one for the mother, and one carp for each child (traditionally each son).

Families also display a” Kintarō” doll usually riding on a large carp.



My pottery work on a Samurai Helmet

Traditional Japanese Samurai (warrior) helmet,” kabuto” which is traditionally symbols of strength and vitality.

Mochi rice cakes wrapped in oak leaves—kashiwa-mochi (mochi filled with red bean jam) and chimaki (a kind of “sweet rice paste”, wrapped in an iris or bamboo leaf)—are traditionally served on this day.

YouTube Video on “How to make a Japanese Samurai helmet” for the “Children’s Day on May 5th.

Final works after the fire

Here are final works of Japanese samurai helmet for the Boy’s Day on May 5th. Helmets are painted with under-graze paints.

This one is another set of the helmet. The shape and design of the Samurai helmet are similar.

Travel to Tanba-pottery | One of six ancient pottery in Japan


Tanba Pottery is also named Tachikui Pottery after Tachikui, the place of its origin, with its origination being as far back as the last Heian-the early Kamakura period (1180-1230).

It is counted as one of the ancient six potteries in Japan with Seto, Tokoname, Shigaraki, Bizen and Echizen. Everyone is very fond of Tanba Pottery.

Indeed, anyone can see something of solid and elegant simplicity , coming from its simple and calm appearance and its typical dark brown or black glazing.

The “Sueno-Sato”  (Tanba Pottery village)  has very beautiful scenery, with green hills in the east and west, and cultivated fields between them, through which a stream, the Shitodani, runs down from north to south.

The kiln used here is of very unusual shape and is built on the sloping surface of a hill. It is inclined, and they call it “Nobori Gama”(Inclined-kiln).

Modern Tanba Pottery

A variety of pottery from 50 studios are on display for sale from traditional Tanba-yaki wares to modern artistic works at the “Kamamoto-Yokocho” (Ceramic Shop)

Ancient Tanba Pottery works

Some ancient Tanba pottery works are displayed at Hyougo Pottery Art museum in Tachikui.

Some of works were made back in 800 years ago at the Muromachi period.

Oldest Kilin in Tachikui district

The special kiln, “Nobori Gama”, which has been used here since Momoyama period, can be found nowhere else but Tachikui, and is so unique and old that the Government has added it to the Intangible Cultural Properties, so that this may remain forever.


The pottery makers at Tachikui are working with modesty and sincerity, living their lives as farmers, and as artists, keeping in their minds the pride of having inherited this kiln and soil for 800 years.

Pottery Tableware Gallery

Tea Ceremony Bowl Gallery

Today, making “Tea Ceremony” bowls are popular item for pottery school students.
A tea bowl was imported from China in the 16th century as a rice bowl which was known as Tenmoku.

They were the preferred tea bowl for the Japanese tea ceremony up until the 16th century.
With the rise of the wabi tea ceremony in the late Muromachi (1336–1573), Korean Ido chawan bowls also became highly prized because of their rough simplicity.

Japanese Tea pot and Tea Things Gallery

A Japanese teapot is most difficult pottery one to make. There are so many components involved such as lid, handle, mouse and main body etc.,

Here’s some my works of Japanese teapots.

Mugcup and tea cup Gallery

The basic pottery item of mugcups and teacup.

If is fun to draw under glaze painting.