The warm grey tones of fired clay is the focus of Japanese company Koyo Seiga. This raw material is from Himeji in an area serviced by the clear Ichi-kawa River which hosts an abundance of high-quality clay. The clay is first oxidation fired and subsequently reduction smoked in a Koyo kiln to produce beautiful and highly durable Ibushi Kawara tiles.
Koyo Seiga, established in 1923, inherits a proud tile heritage from their location. The industry was first established by the lord of Himeji Castle in 1805 to make use of the natural resources of the area and it is in the nearby historical village of Funatsu-cho where the company resides.
To maintain a traditional appearance, the company has also been sought out to produce Ibushi Kawara tiles for the large scale renovation of Himeji Castle, and have done similar work for various shrines and temples. On a consumer basis the deep grey tiles created through traditional techniques (allegedly up to 5,000 years old) easily meld with the modern to create features, external cladding, or simply to preserve something of the old within the new.
They offer seven ranges in a variety of sizes and shapes from multi-level mosaics to classic brick form. Due to the smoking technique that occurs at the end of the firing process a metallic lustre is produced which reflects light gradually changes in appearance over time.
A new post by Hanna Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, May 2019