Skip to content
Your one-stop shop of Japanese and Korean cookware and tableware
Your one-stop shop of Japanese and Korean cookware and tableware
Embracing Time: How Does a Donabe Age?

Embracing Time: How Does a Donabe Age?

Modern cookware, including plastic, silicone, and coated items, retains its appearance even after extensive use. However, a change in colour often indicates that it's time for a replacement. In contrast, traditional cookware like the Japanese clay pot donabe ages beautifully, undergoing a visible transformation.


In many old Japanese restaurants, ordering miso-simmered udon might result in it being served in an earthenware pot that has seen many years of service, its cracks and wear adding to its charm. I have always wished for a pot like this, one that has absorbed a wealth of flavours and the aesthetic beauty of aging.

Not every donabe is capable of developing such character; only genuine, high-quality donabe pots exhibit significant signs of aging. Unfortunately, modern donabe pots, including popular types like Kikka and Hana Mishima, often undergo treatments to simplify maintenance, limiting their ability to age gracefully.

The Character of Iga Donabe

This led us to offer the Iga donabe, free from modern treatments, allowing it to age naturally. Despite initial challenges, the joy of watching this pot age, coupled with the exceptional taste of the food it produces, makes it irreplaceable in my kitchen.

Based on my experiences, I have compiled some care tips below:

  • Initial maintenance with rice porridge
  • Be cautious of heat
  • Handling crackling

What is Iga Clay?

Sourced from Iga, a region with a deep pottery tradition dating back to the Edo period, this clay is renowned for its high organic material content, including ancient plankton.

The firing process creates a porous structure ideal for earthenware pots, enhancing heat retention and ensuring thorough, flavourful cooking.

Initial maintenance with rice porridge

Begin by sealing the pot with rice porridge; let it sit overnight before discarding the porridge. This process allows the donabe to absorb starch and water, helping to prevent odour absorption, especially before cooking dishes with strong flavours.

Be cautious of heat

Plastic trivets can melt, and wooden ones can burn, so it is important to allow the donabe to cool down a bit before placing it on the table for serving.

Avoid sudden temperature changes, and always allow the pot to cool down thoroughly before cleaning.


Handling crackling

While the appearance of cracks might concern some, it is a natural part of the aging process that adds character to the pot. In my experience, these imperfections are not just acceptable but often cherished.

I have included a few images of an aging donabe for those interested in seeing the beauty of this process.

Click here to see all Japanese dobabe clay pots.

*Kai is the author of the article. Kai is our product specialist at My Cookware®.

COPYRIGHT WARNING: Content theft of any kind is immediately reported to Google, which results in ranking penalties. Original texts can be verified in internet archives. My Cookware Australia® holds the copyrights for all the content on this site, including articles, product descriptions, and user guides.

Next article Why Is Binchotan (Japanese White Charcoal) Special?