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Glossary

A

Aichi

A prefecture in Japan. Two of the Ancient Six Kilns (Seto and Tokoname, see Ancient Six Kilns) are located in Aichi. Nagoya, Japan's third biggest city is its prefectural capital.

Akazu

An area nestled in eastern Seto city (see Seto). In the mid-sixteen century, many of the potter families in Seto immigrated to neighbouring Mino region and the ceramics industry in Seto declined as a consequence. There are several theories and the reasons why this immigration happened has not been clear yet. The feudal lord of Owari Tokugawa domain (today's Aichi) made the potter families retun to Seto and settle in Akazu village in Seto in the early seventeenth century, which was after the Tokugawa family established the shogunate administration (see Edo period). Some of the potter families settled in Akazu served as purveyors of ceramics vessels to the Owari Tokugawa family in the Edo period. Production of Momoyama style wares has been preserved in Akazu for centuries.

Ancient Six Kilns

The term refers to six ceramics industry centres that have produced ceramics since the medieval ages. The Ancient Six Kilns are: Seto, Tokoname, Shigaraki, Echizen, Tanba and Bizen.

Ao-de Kutani

One of the painting styles of Kutani ware. It uses four coloured overglaze enamels: green, yellow, navy and aubergine, to cover entire surface of vessels. Ao-de Kutani is characterised by its deep green colour that represents authentic Kutani ware (ao means blue in modern Japanese). Ao-de kutani was originated from Ko Kutani ware (see Ko Kutani), which was produced between the mid-17th century and the early 18th century. About 120 years after the production of Ko Kutani ware ended, Yoshidaya kiln (see Yoshidaya kiln) revived Ko Kutani style and produced ao-de Kutani in the early 19th century. Despite its short production period, Yoshidaya kiln created ao-de masterpieces with richly applied enamels and bold designs. After Yoshidaya kiln ended its production, ao-de Kutani was mainly produced in Matsuyama kiln.

Arita

A city in Saga prefecture in Kyushu. Arita was the Japan's first porcelain production site and ceramics is still its main industry today. Arita produces high quality porcelain tableware.
The porcelain production started in the early 17th century in Arita when a Korean potter Yi Sam Pyeong discovered a deposit of pottery clay stone suitable for porcelain.
Arita was the production site of Ko Imari (old Imari) ware, which was largely exported to Europe from 1659 for about 100 years and attracted Europeans' interest at the export destinations.

D

Dachi

A town in Toki city, Mino region in Gifu prefecture. Ceramics is its major industry.

E

Edo priod (1603-1868)

A period in Japanese history. The Tokugawa family established a shogunate administration (feudal military government) in 1603 and ruled Japan for next two and a half centuries. Under Tokugawa's control, Japan enjoyed stable society without conflicts between feudal lords during the Edo period, which contributed to economic growth and cultural development.

G

Gifu

A prefecture in Japan. Southern part of Gifu prefecture borders northern Aichi.

Gosu

The pigment used for sometsuke (blue-and-white⁄underglaze blue) paintings. Gosu mainly consists of cobalt oxide, which contains a small amount of iron, copper and nickel as well as manganese. Chemically synthesised gosu is mainly used nowadays.

H

Hasami

A town in Nagasaki prefecture in Kyushu. Hasami is famous for its porcelain tableware production.

Hirado

Hirado is a port city located on the westernmost of Kyushu. With their trading and diplomatic talents, the Hirado feudal load of Matsura family developed the economy of the domain during the medieval and pre-modern times. Hirado was engaged in maritime trade and had connections with China since the ancient times. The first Portuguese ship arrived in Hirado in 1550. Until Japan's national seclusion policy was enacted, this small port city was an oversea trading port and trader's ships from China, Portugal, Spain, England and the Netherlands sailed in. Hirado in the early 17th century was a highly international city called "the capital in the west" which was open to foreign countries.

Hirado ware

The porcelain ware which was produced in Mikawachi. It is currently called Mikawachi ware. Hirado ware was exported to the European countries and the United States from the early 19th century until sometime around 1950. Because of excellently executed works with requiring experienced technical skills, antique Hirado pieces are highly valued among collectors.

Hizen

The early name of a region in Kyushu, which covered current Saga and Nagasaki (excepting Iki and Tsushima islands). Hizen region has a long history of developing ceramics industry. The region includes Arita, the first porcelain production site in Japan, Mikawachi, Hasami and Karatsu.

J

Jingdezhen

A city in China, which is world-famous for its Jingdezhen porcelain ware. Jingdezhen had officially operated kilns to manufacture porcelain wares for imperial use during the periods of Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties.

K

Kaiseki

Meals accompanying the tea ceremony. It is served before having tea.
Different types and functions of vessels were developed for Kaiseki, and for tea ceremony overall, along with the establishment of formality of cha-no-yu (see sado).

Kameyama ware

Porcelain ware produced in Nagasaki in the late Edo period (see Edo period). Designs were painted on high quality white porcelain in sometsuke style (see sometsuke) by using gosu pigment that was imported from China (see gosu). Compared to other Japanese sometsuke ware, Kameyama ware used darker gosu pigment. After rather short production period of about 50 years, the Kameyama kiln was closed in 1865.

Kannyu

Crazing which is deliberately produced in glazing layer for decoration purpose. Kannyu is produced by using different heat shrinkage ratios of clay and glaze.

Karako-e

A traditional design painted on Mikawachi ware. Literal translation of karako in English is “Chinese children”, and “e” means painting. Karako-e is an auspicious design motif that represents prosperity. The production of karako-e porcelain ware is said to have been prohibited other than the kilns in Mikawachi during the Edo period. The karako-e wares on which seven children were painted were used as presentation wares exclusively for the shogun, the emperor and their families in the Edo period.

Katauchi

A throwing technique that has been practiced by Kutani potters for centuries.
Using drape moulds, the potters shape thrown pots while they are still wet. The procedure is as follows: Pots are thrown on wheel; thrown pots are placed on the drape moulds; the pots are shaped along the moulds; foot rings are trimmed when the pots are leather-hard.(See Ayatakado Notes: Katauchi)
Unlike simple moulding, katauchi technique requires throwing process. The potters throw pots in the exact sizes for placing them on drape moulds for shaping. Some drape moulds have carved patterns on their surface making impressed patterns in relief on the inner surface of the pots where katauchi is performed.
The traditional production style of Kutani ware has a clear division of labour between potters and painters and Katauchi skills has been passed down among the potters over generations.

Kato Shirozaemon (1168? -1249?)

Also known as Kato Kagemasa and Toshiro. A potter in the early Kamakura period (1185-1333) who is thought to have been the founder of pottery tradition in Seto. There are several theories on his life. According to one popular theory, he travelled to Chinese Son dynasty in 1223 to study ceramics production. After returning from China, he travelled over Japan to find a place appropriate for pottery and eventually settled in Seto to build a kiln in 1242 due to his discovery of good clay there. Another theory explains that he had already produced ceramics in Seto before he went to China. Many points in his real picture are yet to be certain.

Kiln modulation

Yohen (variation during firing) in Japanese. Also translated as “kiln change”. Unexpected effects on colour, pattern and texture are generated on the surface of ceramics, which are produced by changes in the atmosphere of kilns and composition of glazes. Kiln modulation can be produced deliberately for decoration purposes.

Ko Imari (Old Imari)

Ko Imari was a porcelain ware decorated with underglaze blue and⁄or polychrome enamel paintings. Although it was named Imari ware, the production was actually operated at kilns near Arita. Imari is the name of the port from which Ko Imari was largely exported to Europe from 1659 for about 100 years. Ko Imari attracted Europeans' attention at the export destinations and is highly popular among antique ceramics fans even now.

Ko Kutani (old Kutani)

Porcelain richly decorated with polychrome enamel paintings, which is said to have been produced in Kutani village in Daishoji domain (in current day Ishikawa prefecture) between the mid-17th century and the early 18th century. There are some other theories regarding the production site of Ko Kutani ware. Lord Maeda Toshiharu, who encouraged new industries in his domain, ordered the construction of the kilns. The kilns were suddenly abandoned after about 50 years of production. The reason of abandonment remains unclear. About 120 years later, Yoshidaya kiln (see Yoshidaya kiln) revived Ko Kutani style.

Koseto

The style of ceramics produced in Seto region from the late Heian period (794-1185) to mid Muromachi period (1336-1573). Koseto was the only pottery style that used ash glaze in medieval Japan.

Kutani gosai

Also called gosai-de and iro-e. One of the painting style of Kutani ware, which basically uses five coloured overglaze enamels: red, green yellow, navy and aubergine. Like ao-de Kutani, gosai decoration style originated from Ko Kutani (old Kutani) that was produced between mid-17th century and early 18th century. Nowadays Kutani polychrome overglaze painting uses larger variety of colours.

Kutani ware

Porcelain wares decorated using polychrome overgraze enamels, which is produced in southern part of Ishikawa prefecture. The Kutani style of decoration applied to the body of porcelain usually uses bright colours with bold designs. The history of Kutani ware dates back to the latter half of the seventeenth century. The production started as a new industry introduced by the local government of the feudal domain of the time. The production, however, suddenly ended and all the kilns were abandoned at the beginning of the eighteenth century. There are some theories though the cause of decline has not been clarified yet. The Kutani ware produced during that period is called Ko Kutani (Old Kutani). In the early nineteenth century, the local government of Kaga province started to encourage the ceramics industry again and many kilns were established, which laid the foundation of contemporary Kutani ware. The ceramics industry in Kaga province developed rapidly and Kutani ware became a major export item in the Meiji period (1868-1912).
Kutani ware has several different styles: gosai-de (five-colour enamels using red, green, blue yellow and aubergine), ao-de (see ao-de Kutani), aka-e (red painting), kinran-de (polychrome enamels with gold painting) and sometsuke (see sometsuke).

Kyo-yaki (Kyoto ware)

The term comprehensively refers to porcelain and stoneware produced in Kyoto. The term is not associated with specific production sites, methods or materials.

Kyushu

One of Japan's four main islands which is located most south-westerly.

M

Meiji period (1868-1912)

A period in Japanese history. The Meiji Restoration (1868) abolished the Tokugawa shogunate administration, which ended feudal times and started modern Japan. The Meiji government modernized the nation in great haste, introducing Western political and economic systems, cultures, and technologies to Japan. During the Meiji period, developed capitalism resulted in an industrial revolution in Japan.

Meiji Restoration

A series of events that happened in 1868, which resulted in the end of Edo period (see Edo period) and the beginning of the Meiji period (see Meiji period).

Mikawachi

A town located in Sasebo city in Nagasaki prefecture. Ceramics production is the main industry and their porcelain products are called Mikawachi ware.
In the Edo period (1603-1868), Mikawachi was in Hirado domain ruled by Matsura family, the feudal lord of Hirado. The porcelain ware produced in Mikawachi was called Hirado ware during the Edo period. Some of the kilns in Mikawachi were officially assigned as purveying potters to the Hirado government, and they produced artistic and high quality porcelain pieces under the Matsura family's patronage.
From the first half of the 19th century until 1950s, Hirado⁄Mikawachi ware was exported.

Mino ware

Generic name of ceramics produced in Mino region which includes Toki, Tajimi, Mizunami and Kani in Gifu prefecture. The types and styles of Mino ware referred to as today were established during the Momoyama period (1537-1615), and that is the reason why it is also known as “Momoyama style”. Large number of potters in Seto immigrated to Mino region in the sixteenth century with the techniques and technologies of pottery, which consequently developed Mino ceramics industry. At the same time, large demand of ceramics utensils for cha-no-yu (tea ceremony) made Mino a centre of ceramics industry at that time. Traditional Mino ware includes Shino, Oribe, Yellow Seto (Ki-Seto) and Black Seto (Seto-Guro) whose styles and techniques are widely applied to today's ceramics production.

Momoyama period

A period in Japanese history, which lasted from 1573 to 1615 (it lasted until 1615 on the basis of art history whereas it ended in 1603 in history books). It was an era where Japan had dynamic development in its art fields, and ceramics production was an industry which underwent drastic changes. Passion for cha-no-yu (tea ceremony, see sado) among war lords and newly emerging power of prosperous urban merchant class generated large demand of ceramics utensils used for tea and kaiseki meals, which stimulated Japan's ceramics industry and became a driving force behind the improvement in techniques and technologies of ceramics production in the late sixteenth and the early seventeenth centuries in Japan.

Myosen Tobo

One of the most successful contemporary Kutani ware studios run by Yamamoto Choza, a kutani painter specialising in underglaze blue, and Yamamoto Atsushi, a potter.

N

Nagasaki

Nagasaki is a port city located in northwestern kyushu. During the Edo period Japan where overseas trading was strictly restricted due to the national isolation policy, Nagasaki had a port which was the only place for the Dutch traders to sail and settle in. Nagasaki was the sole gateway opened to Europe. The Japanese were interested in and admired imported goods the European traders brought to their trading houses in Dejima, where their settlement was permitted. Also, Nagasaki was a place where trading with China was carried out since ancient times and it was not interrupted even in the period of Japan's national isolation. Nagasaki has been much influenced by overseas cultures for centuries and has fused such influences into its own culture.

O

Okiage

Okiage is one of the traditional Hirado ware decoration techniques. Okiage is not carved relief but uses pasty porcelain clay and places it bit by bit to apply relief designs on the surface of porcelain. Okiage is a technique that requires time and skill. Hirado ware established this technique earlier than pate-sur-pate, which is a decoration style of Sevre ware manufactured in France.

Old Seto

The style of ceramics produced in Seto region from the late Heian period (794-1185) to the mid Muromachi period (1336-1573). Old Seto was the only the pottery style that used ash glaze in medieval Japan.

Oribe

A style of Mino ware. It was named after Furuta Oribe (1543⁄44 - 1615), a feudal lord and prominent tea master in the Momoyama period (see Momoyama period), though it has not been clearly known whether Furuta Oribe was engaged in the creation of Oribe ware. Unlike precedent styles of ceramic tea utensils, Oribe ware is characterized by its purposefully deformed avant-garde vessel forms, eccentric paintings with iron pigment and several different glazes which classify the types of Oribe ware. Main types of Oribe are: So-Oribe, Green Oribe, Black Oribe, Narumi Oribe, Red Oribe, Shino Oribe, Yahichida Oribe and Oribe Black.
The glaze referred to as Oribe is a copper glaze colouring in green or dark green under oxidation firing.

glossary_001

Oribe ware by Kato Tsunasuke
Left: Yahichida Oribe, Right: Black Oribe

S

Sado

Japanese tea ceremony. Also called “cha-no-yu” in Japanese. The style of sado practiced today was established in the Momoyama period (1537-1615) by Sen-no-Rikyu. Cha-no-yu was greatly popular among aristocracy, feudal lords and wealthy merchant class, and the tremendous popularity cha-no-yu gained in the late sixteenth century played an important role for the development of Japanese ceramics industry, especially in Mino region (see Mino ware).

Sarayama

The term used in Kyushu (see Kyushu) to refer to the places producing ceramics. Literal translation in English is “dish hill”.

Seto

A city in north-eastern Aichi prefecture. The word “Seto-mono” (things from Seto) is generally used as a synonym of ceramics in Japanese language. This fact proves that Seto has been one of the biggest ceramics industry centres in Japan for centuries. At the location close to Sanage where Sueki stoneware was produced in ancient ages, the history of ceramics production in Seto is long, dating back to mid-Heian period (794-1185). The first ash glazed stoneware in Japanat was produced at ancient Sanage kilns. The subsequently constructed kilns in Seto inherited the ash glazing technique from Sanage. Seto is one of the Ancient Six Kilns (See Ancient Six Kilns) and only Seto ware traditionally uses glazes since medieval times.
In modern times in Seto, industrialization has modernized ceramics workshops with motors and machines to pave the way for mass production since the late 1800s, pursuing cost-efficiency. Meanwhile, many potters and artisans in Seto have been engaged in creation to increase artistic quality of Seto pottery.

Shigaraki

A town in Shiga prefecture. Shigaraki is one of the Ancient Six Kilns (see Ancient Six Kilns) and has a tradition of Shigaraki ware.

Shino

A style of Mino ware (see Mino ware). It is characterised by feldspar white glaze covering the surface. By the use of this feldspar glaze, potters in the Momoyama period achieved the first Japanese-made white ceramics after the long pursuit of the technique to reproduce Chinese celadon. Although Shino ware was not celadon, the white translucent glaze was applied to tea utensils on which underglaze simple pictures and patterns were painted with iron pigment. Shino ware has several classifications: Plain Shino, Picture Shino, Red Shino, Gray Shino, and so on.

Shinsha

Copper red glaze fired in reduction, which is also called oxblood.

Shosoin

The treasure house of Todaiji temple in Nara, which stores numbers of artefacts from the Tempyo period (see Tempyo period). Some of the treasures were brought from China, including the items came from India, Iran, Greece, Rome and Egypt through the Silk Road.

Sometsuke

The term refers to blue-and-white (underglaze blue) in Japanese. Sometsuke is a type of technique that decorates white porcelain with gosu pigment (see Gosu). Reduction firing is required to turn gosu pigment in bright cobalt blue.

T

Tempyo period (729-749)

A period of Japanese history. In the Tempyo period, Chinese cultural style was actively introduced, and it largely influenced Japanese culture.

Tobe

A city in Ehime prefecture. Tobe is the production area of Tobe ware. Tobe ware features bold and rather simple brushwork designs painted with gosu (see Gosu) on white porcelain ware.

Tokako

A copper glaze which is called peach bloom in English. Reduction fire yields pink colour.

Toki

A city in south eastern Gifu prefecture. Toki, a part of Mino region, is famous for its Mino ware tradition as well as is known as Japan's biggest ceramics production area.

Y

Yellow Seto

A type of Mino ware. Typical Yellow Seto, or kizeto in Japanese, has yellowish coloured thin walls with green copper-dioxide spots called tanpan. In the Momoyama period (see Momoyama period), Yellow Seto vessels with incised flower or radish motifs and also with the glaze to make crinkled texture (aburage-de) were produced.

Yoshidaya kiln

A kiln produced ao-de Ko Kutani style ware (see Ko Kutani). A wealthy merchant, Yoshidaya Denemon, funded and established the kiln, which was originally constructed in Kutani village but later moved to Yamashiro in Daishoji domain (in present day Ishikawa prefecture). Yoshidaya kiln successfully reproduced the glazes that were applied to Ko Kutani ware, whose production was stopped more than a century earlier. Their masterpieces were decorated with rich enamels and elaborate paintings in Ko Kutani style. Although Yoshidaya kiln ended its production only after 7 years from its establishment, they revived Ko Kutani style and paved the way of prosperity of Kutani ware.

Yuriko

Underglaze copper red fired in reduction.

Yusu

An evergreen tree, which is also called isu. The scientific name is distylium racemosum. Yusu ash is used as a fusing agent to make glaze which is commonly applied on porcelain in Hizen region.

Yuzen

A traditional dying technique.