What's a Raku Cremation Urn? 7 Types Explained

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After losing a loved one, you might find yourself shopping for a cremation urn. For most people, this isn’t a common shopping endeavor, so it’s understandable to have a lot of questions around the different types of urns, especially a handmade Raku cremation urn.

Jump ahead to these sections: 

One of the most common urns for ashes today is known as the Raku urn. This is a traditional urn that comes from Japan, involving a unique firing process. These unique urns are both eye-catching and beautiful, so it’s easy to see why they’re such a popular choice in modern times. 

If you’re wondering about the different types of Raku cremation urns as well as how to begin your own search, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to learn more about what makes these urns special as well as where to find them. 

Tip: If you're looking for something very unique (think a game, their motorcycle, or instrument of choice), you can custom order an urn from a store like Foreverence. You submit a design idea or sketch, then the company designs and 3D prints your urn, so you get a 100% unique container.

What’s a Raku Cremation Urn?

Raku cremation urns are a traditional type of urn originating from Japan. The word “raku” refers to a traditional, ancient Japanese firing process. The urn is removed from the kiln at its maximum temperature. It’s then placed in a container filled with leaves, straw, or other natural materials. 

The high heat of the urn ignites the organic material, and the container is sealed. Together, the smoke, fire, and oxygen-deprived urn make the unique textures and colors Raku is known for. 

Why is Raku so special?

What makes this process special compared to other types of ceramics and urn crafting? It comes down to the process itself. The organic combustible material affects the glaze and the clay, and this results in an unpredictable, entirely unique appearance.

While choosing an urn is a highly personal choice, many choose a Raku urn for the following:

  • Tradition: Connecting to this ancient Japanese tradition is a way to connect with the legacy of the past. 
  • Unique: Each urn created through this method is completely unique. Because it’s a chemical process between the high heat, lack of oxygen, and the organic material, it’s hard to predict how the urn will look. 
  • Elegant: Despite the seemingly random process and appearance, these urns are undeniably elegant. The beautiful glazing gives them a calm, classic appearance while not compromising on the originality. 
  • Discreet: Because these urns are notoriously colorful and fun, they’re a discreet, personal way to keep your loved one’s ashes close. They don’t often appear like regular urns, and this means they’re more versatile when it comes to fitting your existing home design. 

There are no right or wrong reasons to choose an urn. As long as it’s meaningful to you and within your budget, it’s the right urn. Many find that the Raku process tells a powerful story, and they like that to be a part of their loved one’s memory. 

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How Much Does a Raku Urn Cost?

How much does an urn cost exactly? Like with most things in life, there’s no one-size-fits-all price tag. The price of each urn depends on the following factors:

  • Material
  • Size
  • Decorations
  • Personalization
  • Weight

In general, a Raku urn won’t run you much more than a traditional urn. Most urns cost between $50-$300. The cost of a Raku urn depends on how it was made, whether it was individually crafted or made in bulk.

Depending on the size and design, you can expect to pay between $100 - $350+ for a Raku urn. 

What Are the Different Types of Raku Urns?

There are many different types of urns to know about if you’re in the market for a Raku urn. A cremation urn is a vessel designed to hold cremation ashes, but that doesn’t mean every urn is alike. While they serve a similar function, they take many different forms. 

What are the different types of Raku urns you can find on the market today? The variety might surprise you, but it’s never been easier to find exactly what you’re looking for. 

1. Individual Raku urn

The first and most common type is the individual raku urn. This is what the majority of Raku urns are, and it’s designed to hold an average adult human. These are typically ceramic urns with a glaze, giving it the typical Raku appearance. 

There are a variety of designs to choose from within individual Raku urns, each more unique than the rest. They come in natural, neutral tones or bolder colors depending on the particular style. 

2. Companion Raku urns

Companion urns are designed for the ashes of more than one person. These are usually larger urns or two separate urns connected by the same base. They comfortably hold the cremated ashes of two grown adults.

These are common for spouses or anyone who wants to be rest for all of eternity with someone they love. This is a powerful way to commemorate the legacy of parents, grandparents, a spouse, a sibling, or a child in a single vessel. 

3. Keepsake Raku urn

A keepsake Raku urn is a type of small urn. These are designed to be smaller, either for a portion of cremated remains or a child. This is common if you’re splitting ashes amongst family members or if you choose to scatter some of your loved one’s ashes. 

Though small, these Raku urns are equally as stunning. They share a loved one’s ashes in a discreet, simple way. The small size doesn’t mean having to compromise on style. 

4. Child Raku urns

Child and infant urns are specifically created to hold ashes in memory of a child. These are smaller than an adult urn, but they’re still just as gorgeous. 

A child or infant Raku urn uses the same materials, but it’s likely to be in a brighter, bolder color. These bold colors are a reminder that though their time spent on this earth was brief, it shined brightly. 

5. Pet Raku urns

Pets are a member of the family too, so it’s not uncommon to honor a pet’s memory with a cremation urn as well. Like child or keepsake urns, pet Raku urns are smaller than individual urns. 

Pet Raku urns have the same beloved colors, and they also frequently have additional elements. Other elements might be painted accents, engravings, and so on to honor the pet’s memory. 

6. Religious Raku urns

Thought Raku urns are traditionally Japanese, they’ve been adapted into western styles as well. It’s common to use this art form to showcase popular religious symbols as a way to honor someone’s beliefs. 

Raku urns are painted and adorned with prayers, religious symbols, and so on. These urns can be a touching tribute to the blending of cultures and someone’s passions.

7. Art Raku urns

Last but not least, many Raku urns resemble a work of art in their own right. This comes from the intense craftsmanship involved in the creation of each urn. They take a skilled, dedicated clay worker to perfect, and they often look like something you might find in an art museum. 

Art urns are fine art pieces that are commonly used for cremation ashes. They often are chosen by the family as a way to reflect something about the deceased. These art Raku urns are a memorable, tasteful choice for someone who always saw the beauty in everything. 

How to Choose a Raku Cremation Urn

As you can see from the list above, there are many different types of raku cremation urns. With so many to choose from, how do you choose which urn is right for your loved one’s legacy? This is a highly personal decision, but it’s still one you can make with confidence. Here’s what to keep in mind when choosing a raku cremation urn:

  • Size: First, consider the particular urn size you need. Most adults need one cubic inch of space for each pound of body weight. There are smaller urns for children or pets and larger urns for adults. 
  • Use: Next, how will the urn be used? If you’re planning to keep the urn at home, you’ll have a lot of flexibility. However, if you want it to be outside or buried, you’ll want something more durable to hold up to the elements. 
  • Sharing: If you’re sharing cremation ashes amongst loved ones, you might choose a keepsake or smaller-sized urn. These are designed to hold only a small portion of ashes, and they’re more practical. 
  • Material: There are a variety of different materials raku urns are created out of. The material affects the durability, design, style, and price. 
  • Price: Last but not least, price is often the most important factor when choosing a cremation urn. While these are fairly affordable, you should still keep in mind your budget. 

If you consider all of the factors above, you’ll have no problem choosing a raku cremation urn. This is a keepsake many families hold for generations. As such, take this process seriously and give it a lot of thought. With so many options nowadays for cremation urns, it’s hard to go wrong. 

Where Can You Buy Raku Urns?

If you’re looking to buy a Raku urn, you’re in luck. There are numerous places to find them online and in-person depending on your needs and your budget. 

Crematorium or funeral home

Your crematorium or funeral home can be a great resource and starting point.

Not only can they assist you in finding the perfect Raku urn, but they are knowledgeable about local suppliers and options. 

Ceramics store or craft show

Believe it or not, you might want to head to your local ceramics store, studio, or craft show to find the perfect Raku urn.

This is a great resource for finding skilled Raku artists, and much of the existing pottery might be easily used as an urn. 

Etsy

Etsy has a number of Raku urns available. Better yet, this is a great way to work with an artist directly to make sure you get exactly what you are looking for.

Etsy has a surprisingly large variety of urns in all shapes, sizes, and materials. 

Funeral Direct

Funeral Direct has a large selection of different urns, including Raku urns. They connect with different hand makers, artists, and manufacturers to list the best Raku urns all in one place without the hassle. 

Amazon

Did you know you can even find specialty urns on Amazon? It’s true, the world’s largest online marketplace has a number of urns available.

There are many sellers who offer traditional Raku urns. However, it’s essential you verify reviews before making a purchase. 

What Are Good Alternatives to Raku Cremation Urns?

If you’ve decided a raku cremation urn isn’t right for you, there are many other options. Nowadays, it’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to cremation urns. There are many alternative styles and materials to choose from. Some of these might be more practical or affordable depending on your goals. 

  • Wooden urns: Wooden urns are created out of solid or soft wood. These are a natural, aesthetic way to store your loved one’s ashes, and they’re also very affordable. 
  • Cremation tube: A cremation tube is a temporary way to store your loved one’s ashes before a scattering ceremony. 
  • Bio urn: An alternative to a traditional urn is a bio urn. These are designed to be planted within the ground, sprouting into a living tree.
  • Vase urn: The most traditional type of urn is the vase urn. These are the styles most are familiar with when they think of urns, making them easy to find. 
  • Companion urn: A companion urn is designed to hold the ashes of multiple people. Perfect for couples or families, these urns hold loved one’s close into the afterlife. 
  • Stone urns: Lastly, a stone urn is created using granite or marble. Created with natural stone, this is a stunning tribute to someone’s legacy. 

What urn is right for your loved one? Again, it comes down to their wishes, your budget, and the factors we discussed above. As long as you keep their legacy and wishes in mind, you’re making the right decision. 

How to Transfer Ashes Into a Raku Urn

With all of these suggestions in mind, how do you actually transfer a loved one’s ashes into a raku urn? This can be an intimidating process. You don’t want to spill your loved one’s ashes by accident, and you also don’t want to risk breaking the urn. Raku urns can be fragile, so it’s important to act carefully. 

To transfer ashes into a burial urn, make sure you follow any specific instructions from the raku urn manufacturer. They might provide a special kit or tools to help you. Otherwise, you’ll need a funnel and a safe, clear area to work.

From there, open the raku urn at the top. Pour the ashes into the urn using the funnel. A good idea is to place a paper or cloth under the urn so you can catch any ashes that spill.

From there, make sure the lid is secured back onto the urn. There might be a locking pin or something to twist, but this depends on the specific urn. When you’re done, that’s all there is to it. Store your urn somewhere safe, preferably out of heat or direct sunlight which can damage the urn’s design. 

Is a Raku Urn Right for You?

Raku urns are truly a powerful way to honor a loved one’s memory. This unique glazing process ensures your loved one rests in a vessel that’s entirely their own. Like them, it’s a one-of-a-kind impression. 

No matter the type of cremation urn you choose, you’ll have a gorgeous, permanent reminder of your loved one’s memory. This is something you can hold close for years to come, so make sure you choose the right urn for you. 

Another beautiful option for keeping a loved one's memory alive is a memorial diamond created from ashes. Some companies, like Eterneva, create lab-grown diamonds and allow you to pick from several cuts and colors for your gemstone.


Sources

  1. Branfmann, Steven. “Successful Tips and Techniques for Raku Firing.” Ceramic Arts Network. 12 August 2020. CeremicArtsNetwork.org
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