Thursday, March 15, 2012

BANKO YAKI (万古焼き)-Ceramics of Mie Prefecture

Bankoyaki is pottery from Mie Prefecture.  This is also called Yokkaichi Banko. A pottery merchant, Nunami Rozan, started a kiln near Ise Shrine 1736 and 1741. Annnelise Crueger, in her book "Modern Japanese Ceramics" p. 158, gives a brief but clear history. Rozan was summoned to Edo (Tokyo) to be the potter for the shogun. His work is called Ko-Banko, or old Banko.  He had no successor, but years later Mori Yusetsu bought the Banko seal from the family and began a kiln in Mie Prefecture where he created the light tea ware that became popular in the 1800's. Now days it is most famous for brown tea pots and the cookware for nabemono.

The Banko pottery that westerners are more familiar with was produced for export in Tokyo in the late 1800's through the mid 1900's. This Banko, also known as Asakusa Banko, is grouped with Sumida ware, and Poo ware. These are the Banko vases with the 3D carved shrine designs, as well as the "see, hear and speak no evil" monkey figurines. 

Earthy Banko-yaki kyusuu tea pot
I have seen a book on Amazon "Fanciful Images: Japanese Banko Ceramics" by Barry Till.  I have not read it but thought I would  put it out there for those interested in Banko.

Banko-yaki makes a lot of everyday ware in Mishima design.  The kiln name for this piece is Ginpo.

Seishu Gama 勢州窯  太楽老作

Banko export ware Made in Japan mark


  1. I recently purchased a Japanese teapot in Japan and I am now searching for matching teacups. The only information I have is Yokkaichi which is where the teapot was made, banko yaki, kakutani. Please help if at all possible. Thanks so much

  2. It is hard to give any help without seeing your tea pot. Do you have a Pinterest or other site you could send me the link to? Was it new? If so, you could try Rakuten, a Japanese site which also has English. If it is old you could try Rinkya auction site. Sometimes you can luck out on ebay. You might even try cups that compliment the pot rather than match it.

  3. I opened an email account for this blog:

  4. I have been informed more than once by Japanese antique dealers that the 3D carved shrine items (usually vases or tea ware), often listed on eBay and elsewhere as Banko ware, are actually Miyajima yaki. I had a friend from Hiroshima visit the Itsukushima shrine recently and was able to confirm this from one of the local potters. What do you think?


  5. Gerry,

    I have an email account for this blog now You can send me samples of your pieces if you want. I have tried to confirm your hypothesis by researching the Japanese sites but have not found ANY indication that those "3D" pieces come from Miyajima. Why would the information not be posted? Wouldn't there be some record of the existence of the pottery even if it is no longer produced? Surely the museums would have samples of the ware. I have not checked in a while so maybe I will try again if your friend says the potters there have confirmed it.

  6. Gerry, A little something more for you to chew on......I was checking a Tobe pottery site for another mark when I happened upon some 3D style pottery similar to what we have been discussing, but a little different. It seems that there was a Tobe kiln in Ehime Prefecture in the 1960's that made the cut-out 3D design in vases called (波六窯) Naroku-gama...not sure if this is the correct reading but the kanji is correct. See and look under SK601, and also

    While looking for Miyajima pottery I did come across a form of pottery made of clay that has the 3D design of the red Tori but was made as small souvenirs in Miyajima. These were made after the war and are called Miyajima Dorei (宮島土鈴).

  7. Hi. This helps, a little. I have about 10 pieces in the 3D shadow-box style. Several have incised "Made in Japan." Several have no markings. Only two have kanji, but they don't seem to match either of your examples above. The Cruegers discuss Miyajima yaki on p. 106 of their book but no mention of this particular style. A teapot in my group, which appears to be the oldest, uses a very grainy clay, which matches the report from the Tosai Kiln (licensed by the shrine) of lucky sand being a characteristic before they were forced to change clays. More food for thought.

    1. Gerry,
      Interesting! Now that I have an email for this blog why don't you send me pictures of the tea pots and marks and let me do some research and see if I can find anything.


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