history about TOKONAME, a pottery town

Tokoname (常滑), south of Nagoya on the Chita Peninschula near Chubu International Airport, was a center of pottery production for long time going back to the Heian Period of Japanese history and remains Japan's foremost producer of Maneki-neko figures.  


Tokoname is one of Japan's six most important ancient kiln towns - the others are Bizen (備前), Echizen (越前), Seto (瀬戸), Shigaraki (信楽) and Tanba (丹波) - had the largest output of ceramics of any kiln town in the Edo Period (1600-1868).

In particular, Tokoname was a major producer of ceramic water pipes and is known for its signature "redware" and fine Japanese teapots.

Green tea became popular during the late Edo period, but the only teapots were imported from China, until a Tokoname potter named Mr. Jumon SUGIE started the first production of shudei (red clay) teapots in Japan. Eventually, Tokoname solidified its status as a pottery town.


TOKONAME in recent years

This pottery tradition and its culture can be sensed everywhere around Tokoname town, as for example in "Tokoname Maneki-neko street", "Pottery roads" and the sight of kiln chimneys.  Visiting Tokoname town is highly recommended for a Pottery, especially for cat lover & Maneki-neko fan!


Most ceramic "Maneki-neko" is produced in Tokoname, where the gigantic cat "Toko-nyan,”

6,3 m width and 3,2 m height watches over the town with its giant eyes.

"Tokoname Maneki-neko street". There are 39 unique ceramic cats along the street.


Take a stroll through a town of chimneys!

"Pottery roads" goes up and down a few low hills which take you through kilns and brick chimneys, past ceramic

pipes and roofing tiles, and all the other scenes of a thriving pottery town. These sights of Tokoname leaves you

a fantastic impression.

A Photo shown left is "Dokan-zaka" (Earthen pipe slope) at the "Pottery roads".

The walls and the path itself are constructed from old ceramic pipes, Shochu bottles

and the clay rings ceramic debris from kiln.


Along the path are a number of brick chimneys that have been preserved

from the Meiji Period. The slope is one of the postcard views of Tokoname.

It is the place where most of the tourists take memorial photos. 

    "Nobori-gama"(climbing kiln):

    Even the 60 such kilns once operated in Tokoname. This is the only one left and is the largest in Japan.

    It was in operation from 1887 to 1974 and has eight firing chambers on 17 degrees slope and ten chimneys of

    varying height.     You can go inside the firing chambers and try to make your own pottery at a modern kiln.