Japanese Pottery Styles

By Tao Schencks | Submitted On July 27, 2010

Japanese pottery can be divided in to 4 main categories - earthenware, porcelain, glazed and un-glazed stoneware. These 4 kinds of pottery have been made in Japan since prehistoric times, but it is more recently that it has become so widespread. Most pottery that has been made in Japan is used for practical purposes, such as bowls, vases or plates. Although this fact is true, the decoration of the pottery pieces has always been of the highest quality. As with many other Japanese customs and rituals, the art of making pottery and porcelain has been refined and mastered over hundreds of years.

Satsuma Pottery
One of the most popular kinds is called Satsuma and was made around 400 years ago from a brown clay found in the Satsuma region. Some say that it is a cross between pottery and porcelain, due to the fact that it is fired at a very low temperature. The tell-tale markings of a piece of Satsuma is the creamy color and the crackled glaze.

Arita Pottery
Around the same time that Satsuma pottery was created, the blue and white porcelain called Arita was also being made. These pieces are white in color with an ink like blue under glaze. They are also often decorated with figures of Japanese gods or important people. This became a very popular style in Japan, so much so that it could not be produced quickly enough to satisfy demand. Skilled workers in China were used to create Arita and ship it over for sale.

Imari Pottery
The word Imari, which is actually the name of a port near the town of Arita, is often given as a term to describe all pottery coming from Japan from 1600 onwards. The name was given due to the fact that the port was used to export pottery all over the world and therefore the term Imari pottery was born. The real names for the different types or styles of Imari pottery relate to either the places they were made in, the potter who made them or the family name.

Made In Occupied Japan
In 1945, Japan was occupied by the Allied forces as part of World War 2. During the 7 year occupation, any porcelain or pottery that was being exported out of the country had to be marked as being from Occupied Japan. Most of the pieces that were sold abroad were cheaper kitchenware or pottery pieces such as vases. Any of the good and fine pieces stayed in the country. The idea was that the mass export of these kinds of goods would help build Japan's economy and stabilize the country after the war.

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