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Hiroshima for Global Peace

Pottery Glazed with the Ashes of Origami Cranes; Spreading the Desire for Peace to the World

“Origami Crane Lamp” is beautiful with a flickering orange flame and flying origami cranes.

Origami cranes (orizuru) given to Hiroshima from all over the world are “cremated” at Daisho-in Temple, the oldest temple on Miyajima island. These paper cranes instilled with people’s desire for peace is turned into ash. This ash is then blended in the glaze applied on the pottery. The “Orizuru Ash-Glazed Incense Burner Inori” and “Orizuru Lamp Akari” with paper crane designs were made by Yamane Kosai, the third-generation head of “Taigendo,” a pottery studio making Miyajima Osuna-yaki pottery.

To learn more about these pottery pieces, we visited Taigendo Salon gallery, a five-minute walk from JR Miyajimaguchi Station (South Exit) along National Highway Route 2 going to Iwakuni.

Miyajima Osuna-yaki originated during the Edo Period (1603–1867). When people in Aki Province (western Hiroshima Prefecture) went on a trip, they first went to Itsukushima Shrine and took some sacred osuna sand under the shrine’s Honden Main Shrine as a talisman for a safe trip. When they returned safely, they brought back the osuna sand mixed with the same amount of sand from their travel destination. Returning this doubled amount of sand to Itsukushima Shrine is a tradition known as “osuna-gaeshi” (returning the osuna sand).

This osuna sand was blended in the clay used to make ceremonial pottery pieces for Itsukushima Shrine. This was the start of Miyajima Osuna-yaki pottery.

At the time, Miyajima had pottery studios which made pottery for auspicious occasions. However, during its long history, Osuna-yaki pottery was on the brink of extinction a number of times.

Thinking that Miyajima Osuna-yaki pottery for making auspicious items, talismans, and ceremonial pieces must never die out, the first-generation Yamane Kosai founded a pottery studio in Miyajimaguchi named “Yamane Taigendo” (now called “Taigendo”) in 1912.

To this day, Taigendo continues the Miyajima Osuna-yaki pottery history and tradition. The osuna sand we take from under Itsukushima Shrine’s Honden Main Shrine is blessed with prayers by the shrine. We then mix the sand into the clay. As Kosai III and a pottery artisan, I make pottery gift items and everyday containers. I also create my own artistic pottery pieces.

 Besides making historical and traditional pieces, Taigendo has recently expanded its role as a pottery kiln used by Itsukushima Shrine. We also concentrate on producing story-making pieces unique to Hiroshima. One such piece is “Orizuru Ash-Glazed Incense Burner Inori” covered with a glaze blended with the ashes of origami cranes from Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The paper cranes were “cremated” at Daisho-in Temple.

 Every year, the city of Hiroshima receives 10 million origami cranes (10 tons) instilled with people’s strong desire for peace. The city is making use of these cranes in various ways such as recycling them into picture postcards and wrapping paper. Amid such efforts, Daisho-in Temple on Mt. Misen, Miyajima’s oldest Buddhist temple, “cremates” origami cranes. The fire for the cremation comes from the temple’s “Eternal Flame” burning continuously for 1,200 years on Mt. Misen. This flame was also used to light the Peace Flame at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Daisho-in Temple’s head priest gives us the ashes of the cremated origami cranes and we use them in the glaze on our pottery.

 Ashes used in ordinary glaze are from wood, but the ashes we use are from paper. The origami cranes come from all over the world, made with different kinds of paper and strung together with different kinds of string. Since they include many non-paper impurities, we spend days removing the impurities, refining, and blending the ash into the glaze. It is a trial-and-error process to produce the “Origami Crane Ash Glaze.

Orizuru Ash-Glazed Incense Burner Inori

 Although I perfected the glaze, I had a hard time deciding what to make for it. The glaze was instilled with the thoughts of people all over the world. I wanted to create something that would make people feel peaceful, give prayers, and pray for peace. I eventually came up with the idea of creating an incense burner that people can use to pray for peace with the burning incense. The first incense burner I made was first offered to Daisho-in Temple.

 Due to the specialized skills and processes involved in making these incense burners, they are made only when we receive a special order for it. It takes about one year to produce it.

 Since one year is a long time to wait, I also created “Orizuru Lamp Akari” which is easily available. It’s a candle light lamp. The top cover is shaped like the Children’s Peace Monument at the Peace Memorial Park. It has an unglazed, matte finish. Only the pan for the candle has the origami crane ash glaze. The provided candle is made of beeswax made by bees in the forest of Miyajima, the island of the gods. The warm orange glow is soothing.

Orizuru Lamp Akari

 The ashes of origami cranes instilled with people’s thoughts are very special. We made the glaze with great care and was able to give physical form to people’s thoughts for peace. This is truly the power of making crafts. It makes a great gift for someone special or overseas. A gift wishing for world peace.

 From Hiroshima, spreading our wish for peace and Miyajima’s 1,200-year history is not really a grand scheme for our local community. It is rather our mission as a pottery maker in Miyajimaguchi, Hiroshima for over 100 years. We shall continue to actively think about ideas for our craft and do it. Then it becomes meaningful and significant.

・Orizuru Ash-Glazed Incense Burner Inori (includes incense, origami crane ash, and square stand), ¥77,000 *By special order only.

・Orizuru Lamp Akari (includes Miyajima beeswax candle), ¥13,200

 Part of the profits are donated to the city of Hiroshima to promote peace.

Miyajima Osuna-yaki Pottery   Taigendo Salon

Address: 1-3-39 Miyajimaguchi, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima

Phone: 0829-56-0027

Hours: 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.

Closed: Wednesdays


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