Even those who are not familiar with pottery may have heard of Kutani ware.
The luxurious and gorgeous colors and painting decorations are simply unforgettable.
Now, we are going to introduce Kutani ware that has been highly valued in and out of Japan.
What is Kutani ware?
Kutani ware is the pottery produced in Kanazawa, Kaga, Mino and Komatsu in Ishikawa and famous for its brilliant teaware.
Kutani ware has been chosen as a gift from the Imperial Household Agency for foreign celebrities and royal families such as the wedding gift for Prince Charles.
But this doesn’t mean that the people can’t afford, Kutani ware has a variety of products for a wide range of prices, from masterpiece to household item.
Features of Kutani ware
There are a few features of Kutani ware, and these below are well-known.
Pottery and Porcelain, two different materials
Many porcelain products are generally classified as either clay pottery, or porcelain stone pottery. However, Kutani ware has both: Thick and chubby one, and thin and light one. Their appearance, characteristics and uses are different, and each one has excellent features.
Beautiful painting decoration
Kutani ware represents Japanese color-decorated pottery as it is said “No uwaetsuke (painting decoration), no Kutani.”
Uwaetsuke is a technique to paint with pigments after baking then rebake at about 800 ℃ to finish. The painting decoration becomes the one-and-only by rebaking.
Also, five color pigments are used for the technique, which are red, yellow, purple, green and navy. That’s why uwaetsuke is also called “gosaide (five colors method)”.
The decoration technique makes Kutani ware look luxurious and gorgeous enough to be chosen as a gift for someone special and celebrations.
History of Kutani ware
Kutani ware has different names and characteristics according to the eras, and it is said that it originated about 360 years ago in the Edo period.
Sudden disappearance in the early Edo period
Kutani ware had been recognized in 1665 as it is said that Goto Saijiro who had trained pottery in Arita first built his kiln in Kutani village.
Later, he had produced many Kutani ware masterpieces with brilliant decorations, and became famous in no time, but he suddenly “disappeared” at his very young age. The cause is unknown still now.
Comeback in the late Edo period.
100 years after the shutdown of the Kutani kiln, Yoshida-ya Denemon, a great merchant of Daishoji that was the birthplace of Kutani ware, took leadership to restore Kutani ware.
The Kutani ware products made during this period are called “Saiko (restored) Kutani”
Recognized worldwide in the Meiji era
In 1873, the Kutani ware was exhibited at the Vienna Expo and became famous worldwide as “Japan Kutani”
Later, the famous Kutani painting decorator Kutani Shoza took leadership to make Kutani ware products with brilliant red painting decoration, and the massive amount of the products were exported.
Living national treasure in the Showa era and present
In the late Showa era, the beauty of Kutani ware led to the times of producing Kutani ware as an art work. The tradition is valued in Kutani ware, but a variety of new designs were made as they were flexibly adapted to the times.
As a result, two living national treasures were designated:One is the 3rd Tokuda Yasokichi, who had developed the gradation painting method, in 1997. The other is Yoshida Minori, who has mastered the technique of gold leaf decoration, in 2001.
And now, Kutani ware continues to improve as they respect the tradition and integrate new designs and techniques.