Tajimi tile makers are versed in a variety of techniques for production, glazing and firing. The resulting Tajimi tiles are characterised by a warm, hand-made look. Their slight irregularities in colour and texture are distinctive, and valued as embodiments of Japanese aesthetics. Tile firing methods strongly influence appearance, as does the foundational substance of the tile. Globally, most mass-produced tiles are fired in roller heath kilns, providing a completely uniform output. In Tajimi however, tunnel and shuttle kilns are used. The fluctuating firing temperature and long firing times of these kilns, result in variations in colour among the same tiles, giving them their representative, vivid appearance. In addition, a method known as reduction firing (as opposed to oxidation firing) can be used with special glazes to create unique textures and colour effects, like those found in traditional Japanese pottery.
Clay extrusion is a characteristic Tajimi method that has been used for many decades. In this process, clay is continuously extruded through a die, producing a tile section that is then cut to the desired length by wire. The process is partially automated and is also suitable for middle to large quantities. Extruded tiles, with their variations in colour and texture, have a particularly warm, hand-made look that is perceived as typical of Japanese aesthetics.
Worldwide, dry press is the most common tile production method. In this method, dry clay powder is used instead of regular clay. Large steel moulds compress the powder and form the tiles under high pressure, before tiles are glazed and fired in a tunnel kiln. The process is highly automated and suitable for the efficient and economic production of very large quantities of tiles with low tolerances. Dry pressed tiles are highly standardised and have a neutral, clean appearance.
Pressure moulding is a technique often used in Japanese pottery production. Clay is liquified and pressed into closed plaster moulds which absorb humidity from the clay, making the clay firm. The resulting tiles are removed from the mould individually. The process is suitable for small to medium quantities and offers very high detailing for complex designs.
Wet press is an old, almost extinct, technique that is still sometimes used in Tajimi. In the wet press technique, tiles are made one by one by pressing clay into a single mould. The process requires a lot of time-consuming handwork. It is only suitable for very particular designs in small quantities. Every tile is unique, so will show slight variations.