Bizen Pottery Festival, Okayama Pref., Japan

Every year in October, the Festival of Bizen Pottery (備前焼まつり, Bizen-yaki Matsuri) is held in the small town of Imbe (伊部) in the former Bizen province, now part of Okayama Prefecture.

Bizenware (備前焼, Bizen-yaki) is a type of Japanese pottery most identifiable by its ironlike hardness, reddish brown color, absence of glaze, and markings resulting from wood-burning kiln firing. It is Japan’s oldest pottery making technique, introduced in the Heian period (794-1185). Because of the clay composition, Bizen wares are fired slowly over a long period of time. Firings take place only once or twice a year, requiring the wood fire to be kept burning for 10-14 days at a temperature of about 1,300°C.

All photos in this story shot with Nikon D7000 and Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. Edited in Lightroom 5.7.

Emerging from JR Imbe Station, dancers were just getting ready for their parade.

Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan Photo
Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan

An engaging group consisting of very young performers …

Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan Photo
Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan

… and still-young performers 🙂 –

Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan Photo
Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan

dressed in colorful costumes, and …

Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan Photo
Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan

… displaying a rather elaborate sequence of dance moves.

Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan Photo
Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan

After watching the parade, it was time to look around the tents and stands, where local potters presented their works of Bizen pottery. A myriad of beautifully shaped and colored tea cups, sake bottles, beer mugs, dishes, vases and decorative items.

Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan Photo
Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan

The level of interest in those pottery items seemed to loosely correlate to the visitors’ age, …

Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan Photo
Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan

… and upon closer look, many a bargain was to be found.

Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan Photo
Bizen Pottery Festival, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan

Imbe is also home to a lovely small shrine, Amatsu Jinja (天津神社).

Amatsu Shrine, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan Photo
Amatsu Jinja, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan

As one might expect at this location, the shrine features a unique set of decorative elements and ornate details made of Bizen-yaki.

Amatsu Shrine, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan Photo
Amatsu Jinja, Imbe (Bizen), Okayama, Japan

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