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Japanese Ceramics, Overview
Japanese ceramics, pottery, porcelain

1. Prehistory, Earthen ware

Two completely different types of ancient Japanese ceramics(earthenwares) are unearthed. The one is called Jyomon Doki (earthen ware) and the other Japanese ceramics is called Yayoi Doki (earthen ware). Jyomon Doki is older than Yayoi Doki. The reason why the transition from Jyomon to Yayoi happened has not been clear yet. One thing we can know from the change is some dynamic social change occured in the same time. For example, the change from collecting to cropping, a religious ware to a practical ware, one ethnic group to the other one, or etc. Anyway, Jyomon Doki and Yayoi Doki have completely different shapes. The former ceramics has excessive decorations, and being emotional. On the other hand, the latter ceramics is more practical and simple, seems robbed the social function of art or religion by other new ceramics. Okamoto Taro (1911-1996), Japanese famouse artist, said that the origin and the true nature, the passion of Japanese people is in Jyomon Doki, and not in Yayoi Doki.

2. Stone Ware

Features of Yayoi Doki are passed down to Sueki (stone Ware), which continued to produce in the recorded history. Sueki can be called the origin of Japanese ceramics. Today, Suzu Yaki (stone Ware) (Suzu, Ishikawa) remains the features of Sueki.
Bizen Yaki (stone Ware/pottery) (Bizen, Okayama) develops an earthen ceramics to an art. It seems to seal fire and earth in its body. Japanese ceramics has beautiful porcelain like Imari Yaki on the following text, but it is rubbed up with Japanese sense only for several hundred years. On the other hand, Bizen Yaki is rubbed up with deeper history, and fits the inner beauty of Japanese people.
Echizen Yaki (stone Ware/pottery) (Echizen, Fukui), Shigaraki Yaki (stone Ware/pottery) (Shigaraki, Koka, Shiga Prefecture) and Tokoname Yaki (stone Ware/pottery) (Tokoname, Aichi) are Japanese ceramics which has also remained a smell of an earth.

3. Pottery

Pottery and Sado

What polished and putted up Japanese ceramics is Sado, the Japanese way of tea established in the Momoyama Period, 16th century. Sado is developed from merely the manner of drinking tea, to the composite art. Chajin, who love drinking teas and being engaged into Sado, put much intensity into especially ceramics, but also everything surrounding them when they drink teas, such as tea-things, pictures, vases and flowers, rooms, huts and lodges, gardens, dining, etc., and put own personal philosophy into Japanese ceramics.

Compare to modern European craftsmen or today's Japanese craftsmen, the past Japanese craftsmen of ceramics were not so eager to achieve an individual artistic creation, and an artistic trend coming up from it. Instead, artistic creations achieved by Chajin influence and decide the direction of the past Japanese ceramics.

Senno Rikyu

Senno Rikyu is a founder of Sado. His sense of the beauty is called "Wabi Sabi", a value of simplicty and essentiality of life and nature with triming artifact, and influence Japanese ceramics determinately. You can feel this sense with Raku Yaki (pottery) (Raku Art Museum), Hagi Yaki (pottery) (Hagi, Yamaguchi), Karatsu Yaki (pottery) (Karatsu, Saga).

Furuta Oribe

Furuta Oribe is a disciple of Sennno Rikyu, and embody 'Doing different things from the others.', the words given by Rikyu. His sense of the beauty can be described as pleasantness of originality. You can touch this feeling with Mino Yaki (pottery) (Mino, Gifu), Seto Yaki (pottery) (Seto, Aichi). These two production areas accommodated Chajin's demands to Japanese ceramics in each age; ceramics of the Oribe likes called Oribe Gonomi. You can enjoy the other forms of ceramics in these productions, such as Shino Yaki (pottery), Kizeto (pottery), Setoguro (pottery).

Nonomura Ninsei

Nonomura Ninsei is a craftman who succeeded to produce a red color on pottery for the first time in Japan, and established colorful pictorial expressions on Japanese ceramics: Nonomura Ninsei works. You can enjoy his sense of the beauty with Kyo Yaki (pottery) (Kyoto, Kyoto).


Yanagi Munuyoshi, who is a thinker and artist in the Meiji period, propounded "You no Bi", the sense of the beauty in the practical craftworks making and using by nameless commoners. The movement is called "Mingei" in Japanese ceramics. Famous craftmen of Mingei are Hamada Shoji and Kawai Kanjiro. You can feel this sense of the beauty with Mashiko Yaki (pottery) (Mashiko, Tochigi).

4. Porcelain

In 1616, Japanese porcelain started to produce in Arita, Saga. Arita Yaki (porcelain), also called Imari Yaki (porcelain), developed as Japanese original porcelain, and got the world reputation in each age. Their skills spread to the other production areas in Japan. See Imari / Arita Porcelain Page for more details on.


When Japanese porcelain started to produce, only blue colors could be discribed on it. Because of its pleasant expressions, even now the blue color porcelain, Sometsuke, are produced. You can see them in Imari / Arita (porcelain) (Arita, Saga, Imari, Saga), Seto Yaki (porcelain) (Seto, Aichi), etc.


When a variety of colors could be described on Japanese porcelain, the old kutani style developed. Today, you can see its taste on Kutani Yaki (porcelain) (Kaga, Ishikawa).


Sakaida Kakiemon succeeded to produce red colors on Japanese porcelain, and established the kakiemon style. It embodied high-quality pictorial expressions on Japanese porcelain for the first time. Its sense of the beauty can be described as "the beauty of the white space on the margin". You can feel this beauty in Imari / Arita (porcelain) (Arita, Saga, Imari, Saga).


For presents between the riches, and exports for European countries, gorgeous Japanese ceramics used gold leaves, Kinrande, were produced. You can touch the beauty with Imari / Arita (porcelain) (Arita, Saga, Imari, Saga)


For presents to royalty and the aristocracy in Japan, the royal pottery of Nabeshima kingdom produced this type of Japanese porcelain. A balance of gentle blue colors is beautiful. You can touch these items with Imari / Arita(porcelain) (Arita, Saga, Imari, Saga)


In true meaning, Satsuma Yaki (pottery) (Satsuma, Kagoshima) is categoried in pottery, however its whiteness and preciseness can be called 'porcelain'.

A view of marjor productions
Arita / Imari (Arita, Saga Prefecture; Imari, Saga Prefecture)
Bizen (Bizen, Okayama Prefecture)
Echizen (Echizen, Fukui Prefecture)
Hagi (Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture)
Karatsu (Karatsu, Saga Prefecture)
Kutani (Kaga, Ishikawa Prefecture)
Kyo Yaki (Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture)
Mashiko (Mashiko, Tochigi Prefecture)
Raku (Raku Art Museum)
Satsuma Yaki (Satsuma, Kagoshima Prefecture)
Seto (Seto, Aichi Prefecture)
Shigaraki (Shigaraki, Shiga Prefecture)
Tokoname (Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture)
Tsuboya Yaki (Naha, Okinawa Prefecture)
A view of famous craftsmen

Items: Kimono Ceramics Satsuma Kiriko Ryukyu Glass

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