Introduction to Japanese Ceramics

Kutani Ware from Ishikawa Prefecture

Crafts

The sight of elegant designs in muted colours on bright white pieces is often how people can recognize Japanese ceramics, yet not all of them follow that particular pattern. The beauty of colour is celebrated on Kutani ware, located in the modern Ishikawa prefecture. It is a brand of china that has been around for centuries, but economic issues closed down the kilns and production for nearly twenty years at one point. Even with the interruption, this beautiful china is still being made today.

Bold pigments were used to create the designs for this china, but they were not from local ingredients. The family creating it ran into economic troubles at one point, and they shut down their kiln when they were unable to obtain the right supplies to enhance their beautiful pieces. It took nearly two decades for them to recover, but they again began manufacturing their unique product and selling it across Japan and in other countries.

The oldest pieces made by the family are often referred to as Green Kutani, and it is due to the colour of the glaze they often used to finish their pieces. They would use bold lines to create a design in a black colour, and then the finishing glaze was green to offset it. Some of the glazes used were blue-green, and these are a part of the Green family of ceramics attributed to the same family.

While the oldest of their pieces are labelled for the green glaze used, it is not the only colour that made them famous. Their pieces were glazed in red, yellow, purple, and blue. A later innovation they introduced was using gold to create their design and then glazing it with a bright red coral colour that made it stand out. These ceramics were popular on the Japanese market, but they were also a welcome addition in many other countries around the world.