Ceramic tiger production begins in Japan's Amakusa

A pottery workshop in the Amakusa region of Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan, has recently begun producing figurines of next year's Chinese zodiac sign, the tiger.

Amakusa ware is designated a national traditional craft. Work on the tiger figurines began last month at one of the main kilns, Uchidasarayamayaki.

The process involves pulverizing Amakusa porcelain stone, mixing it with water, molding and bisque-firing.

Crafters then paint facial features and stripes on the figurines, apply glaze and bake them to create roughly seven-by-seven centimeter tigers.

The workshop plans to bake 3,000 tiger figurines in three different transparent shades.

The head of the workshop, Kiyama Kentaro, says he hopes the figurines will help people feel happy.