Donabe is a traditional Japanese earthen cookware that means “clay pot” from the Kanji word—do (土) is "earth", and nabe (鍋) is "pot".
Donabe can be used in everyday cooking such as making soups, stews, hot pot, and rice as well as steaming fish and vegetables—others can even be used for stir-fry and grilling. Cooking with donabe promotes a healthy way of living and upholds Japanese tradition.
At MANZEN, we offer a very special kind of donabe made in Iga, Mie Prefecture, a 1300 year old province that’s located 400km southwest of Tokyo. Iga-Yaki—伊賀焼, a style of pottery from Iga, is one of the most highly regarded regional potteries in Japan.
Authentic Iga pottery is made from clay that comes from 4 million year old earth layers which used to be the bottom of Lake Biwa. The special soil from Iga delivers natural high absorbency and high heat retention to donabe and Iga-yaki pottery.
Natagani-en is a producer of artisinal donabe from Iga region. They were founded in 1832 and has been run by the Nagatani family for 8 generations. Donabe and pottery is handcrafted by skilled artisans—not machined—so the shape, color, and pattern will vary slightly from one another.
Donabe is baked in extreme high heat kiln twice and takes around 2 weeks to complete. Every donabe goes through strict quality checks to deliver the highest quality product.
Qualities of Japanese Pottery
Wabi-Sabi / 侘び寂び
This Japanese view embraces imperfection and individuality, with an understanding that “the universe is inherent of natural imperfections”. With pottery, each piece has its own character, story, and place in the world—truly one-of-a-kind.
Kan-Nyu / 貫入
Refers to the thin crevices—like leaf veins—formed in the glaze of pottery. It is a desired feature in Japanese pottery and a characteristic of wabi-sabi. Iga pottery is well known for its attractive kan-nyu. These thin cracks do not affect the functionality of the product.
As you use your donabe, wabi-sabi will appear. The outer bottom will change color and black spots will appear. Kan-nyu will become more noticeable as the donabe expands and shrinks from heating and cooling. This is part of the beauty of wabi-sabi and aging art of donabe.
We hope you will enjoy using your Iga pottery and appreciate the fine details of handcrafted artistry.