We are going to tell you about the Anagama kiln, a firing system that has been used for thousands of years and that is an art in itself in achieving unique ceramic pieces.

What is an Anagama kiln?


Anagama kiln is an ancient type of ceramic kiln. It was introduced into Japan via Korea in the 5th century.

Anagama means in Japanese “cave oven.”

It is an adaptation of the climbing dragon kiln from southern China. It later evolved into the Nobori-gama kiln. It is a large furnace consisting of a sloping chamber.

The fire-breathing dragon


The Anagama kiln is the traditional kiln of Japanese pottery, which is compared to a huge fire-breathing dragon. It is a cave-like structure that maintains a high temperature for five days. It is part of an ancestral method of firing pottery. This type of kiln has been used in Korea and Japan for centuries.

The dragon kiln is a fusion of ancient Asian techniques. Its name derives from the Chinese word “tozan”, which means “eastern mountain”. Different types are still in use in Japan. This type of traditional oven has reached other countries, although its use is not widespread. For example, there are currently two of these fire-breathing Tozan dragon kilns in the United States, and their use is sometimes the subject of events attended by potters from different places.

What is an anagama kiln like?

Diagram of an Anagama kiln ©

Wood firing


Anagama kiln is a very old form of pottery kiln that was introduced to Japan from China via Korea in the 5th century. It is a variation of the climbing dragon kiln from southern China. This form was adapted over time into more modern step kilns that are still widely used today.

Anagama kiln fires produce a large amount of ash, which is drawn through the chamber into the chimney. As a result, anagama kiln fires reach temperatures in excess of 760º C/1400º F, and the ash forms a unique glaze on each piece.

The potter feeds the kiln with wood, constantly checking that there is enough wood and that the kiln is at the right temperature.



The temperature of the Anagama kiln is a vital factor in determining the final result of a stoneware or porcelain piece. Traditionally, the kiln is wood-fired, and must remain at a constant temperature because wood burns quickly and rapidly. The kiln must remain above cone 10, which is the temperature range in which stoneware and porcelain pieces are fired.

The use of an Anagama kiln requires a lot of time, effort and knowledge. In fact, the process is so laborious that it is generally only used a few times a year. In addition, the artist potter has to carefully control its temperatures to avoid damaging your pieces.

Anagama kiln

Ruin of the old kilns of Minamiyama. These Anagama kilns were used until the Kamakura period of the Heian period. Seto City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan.

© Image: KAMUI

How clay is used for firing


Anagama kilns use firewood to fire the clays, and are very different from the gas or electric kilns used by potters today. These kilns require a constant supply of firewood to maintain a high temperature, and must be fed continuously, preventing it from running out. In the electric or gas kiln, for example, this is not a problem.

An Anagama kiln has a single firing chamber, with a combustion chamber at one end and a flue at the other. Unlike other kilns, there is no physical structure separating the firing space from the ceramic space. Anagama kilns are usually single-chamber structures shaped like an inclined tunnel. In ancient times, potters built their kilns by digging tunnels in the clay banks.