Shigaraki, one of the six famous Japanese kiln sites, has a history which dates from the Nara-era (710-794), but became noted after the Momoyama-era (1582-1598) for the production of tea ceremony wares such as tea bowls, tea pots and vases. Shigaraki today is supported by industrially mass-produced ceramic goods. Almost 20 years ago, Otsuka Kagaku Yakuhin Co. and Ohmi Tile, a local Shigaraki business, formed a joint venture to study and develop the manufacture or large ceramic plates. To produce thin, large, undistorted and strong ceramic plates, it was necessary to study both the properties of clay as well as the techniques of firing. Furthermore, glazes were researched in order to be able to provide a wide selection of colors previously unavailable. Currently it is reported that they can produce any desired color. In an additional research effort, they have installed an extra-large camera to examine the possibilities of transferring photographic images onto these large plates. Artistic printmaking forms another area of interest to the company. The ceramic plates created by this new process are now available in two sizes, both with a thickness of 2 cm (0.78"): 60 cm (23.6") x 300 cm (118.1") and 90 cm (35.4") x 250 cm (98.4"), but the technology exists to make still larger plates.