The Tetsuo Watanuki Exhibition at the Ayumi Gallery will start on the last day of January 2014. While it might seem like it’s a little early to start thinking about things like that, this exhibition is going to be very large. It will feature eighty different examples of delicate ceramics made by firing in a snake kiln.

The exhibition will include some very rare items. While things like rice-white porcelain bowls might not seem unusual, fewer people have had the opportunity to view those made in a snake kiln. For that matter, celadon porcelain also promises to be a prominent attraction at the exhibition. Some more natural shades will more than likely been seen in addition to these, judging by some of the photographs that are being used to promote the exhibition. Whatever fans get they’ll certainly love.

Small snake kiln fired ceramic bowl

The Ayumi Gallery will be hosting eighty different ceramic pieces fired in a snake kiln.

While the snake or dragon kiln is closely related to the waritake, noborigama and anagama style of kilns, it was primarily used in China for most of its history. Jagama snake kilns are shaped like long tubes. One can imagine that a long tube-shaped fiery kiln might certainly look very much like an angry dragon.

Jagama are generally fueled by firewood. Though they are side stoked and partitioned apart, jagama kilns lack partition walls. Artists improvise their own walls by stacking up pottery at various intervals.

As the result of the high costs associated with wood fired kilns, most Japanese artists no longer use them. They are only ever really seen in rather rural areas. The pots that are produced in this fashion tend to be quite expensive, and few people would ever try this as a hobby.

Image of ceramic pot undergoing the firing process

Firing pottery is a delicate art, though the flames themselves certainly look anything but delicate. Ceramics need to be fired at a high temperature.

Pots that come out of these kilns are often considered to be rather rare. Even those who aren’t living national treasures but work in this field have a tendency to fetch a hefty sum for pots baked in a snake kiln. Then again, artists who insist on using a traditional snake kiln might spend around a million yen in high-quality wood for each firing.

There are many different ways that pottery can be fired, but these techniques produce unique pieces of art that can’t really be replicated with any other style of firing. As a result, they’re a type of yakimono that can’t really be seen anywhere else. That might explain why so many people are getting ready for this exhibition a month ahead of time.