Traditional Japanese Crafts: The Complete Guide to Japanese Ceramics

There are many original types of ceramics that have come out of Japan, most of them classified as “Imari ware” or “Bizen ware.” However, they can be grouped into the even larger categories of “toki” (pottery) and “jiki” (porcelain), and each have their own characteristics. Different areas across Japan produce their own versions of ceramics, including Kutani ware, Satsuma ware, Hagi ware, Mino ware, Shigaraki ware, and Mashiko ware, all of them gaining popularity both within Japan and overseas. This article will introduce these ceramics, including their charms, history, and characteristics.


Japanese Culture

Types of Jiki

Kutani Ware

The History of Kutani Ware

Kutani ware, known as “Kutani-Yaki” in Japanese, is a traditional Japanese craft that originated from Ishikawa Prefecture in the Hokuriku region, which is located in northern mainland Japan. Its history spans over 360 years.

It is believed that Kutani ware was first created in 1655 in the early Edo period. As with many other styles of ceramics, Kutani ware was named after the place it was created in, Kutani Village. People found pottery stone there, and from it created many porcelain works.

The above picture shows the Yoshidaya Kiln which was built in the latter half of the Edo Period (1781 - 1867). Even now, it remains exactly as it was at the time of excavation and is open to the general public.

Since its creation, Kutani ware designs have constantly adapted with the latest trends of the time, from the bold and colorful Ko-Kutani style to the Aochibu style (pictured above) of the Meiji Era that incorporated blue and white dotted patterns. It’s truly interesting observing the significant differences in the designs and colors based on the artist and the era. 

For example, there are Kutani ware with extraordinary designs depicting nature scenes such as the mountains, sea, flowers, and birds. At the same time, there are also Kutani ware that mainly feature animals or people, dragons and other creatures of myth, or abstract patterns. Every piece of Kutani ware has a history that you can see just by looking at it, and by doing this you can unearth an entirely new perspective.

It can even be said that the reason why Kutani ware has persevered until today is because it incorporates traditional crafting techniques yet allows for freedom of expression.

The Characteristics of Kutani Ware

“Sometsuke” is a method of decorating ceramics which are painted on with a brush. With Kutani ware, this typically starts with a dark navy underglaze known as “gosu.” From there, red, yellow, green, purple, and blue are painted over the underglaze.

The process of applying these five colors over the underglaze is known as “overglaze,” and the result is magnificent. The finished design is bold, and when you take a closer look, you can clearly see that all the smaller details have been properly painted in.

This is an even more astounding feat when you realize that Kutani ware artisans are painting not just on flat surfaces like large flat plates, but containers, cups, and intricate ornaments!

Another type of painting method that has been growing in popularity since the Meiji Era (1868 - 1911) is “mori.” This technique involves thickly applying the paint, resulting in an almost 3D effect.

The plethora of painting methods being invented for Kutani ware is impressive, but one should also not fail to recognize the immeasurable skill, knowledge, and effort needed by artisans to create these.

When applying the paint, Kutani ware artisans need to consider not just the tone of the overall piece, but also what sort of design and finish they want the piece to have after it’s been fired for a second time. Since it’s not just about how well you can paint, it takes a lot of time and consideration to get the results you want.

Kutani Ware Today

Kutani ware is a craft that both carries on tradition while ever evolving. Since 1990, two Kutani ware artisans have been designated as Living National Treasures. Kutani ware has taken on a wide variety of expressions over time, and today you can even see it painted with sophisticated designs decorating modern rooms. Demand for Kutani ware eating utensils, ornaments, and interior goods has also risen.

Amazingly, more women have also become Kutani ware artisans. The delicate finishes and intricate beauty that they add to their Kutani ware works will surely give this traditional Japanese craft a new form of beauty.

Mino Ware

The History of Mino Ware

Mino ware (Mino-yaki) is a kind of Japanese pottery made in the cities of Tajimi, Toki, and Kani in southeastern Gifu Prefecture, which is situated in the Chubu Region at the center of mainland Japan. The craft began in the 5th century, when the potter’s wheel and “ana-gama” (an old type of kiln made by digging a hole into the side of a hill) were introduced to Japan from the Korean Peninsula.

There are records of Mino ware with a color as white as the white ceramics of China being gifted to the Emperor of Japan during the Heian Period (10th century).

In the 1500s during the late Muromachi Period, a large kiln was built in a village within Mino (a former province in southern Gifu Prefecture), leading to innovations being made for adding color to the pottery. Subsequently, Mino ware saw its golden age during the 16th to the 17th centuries, or the Azuchi-Momoyama Period to the Edo Period.

After Mino was placed under the governance of the Japanese feudal lord Nobunaga Oda in 1567, Mino ware artists made great leaps and bounds in their work. Furthermore, Mino ware gained the favor of tea ceremony masters such as Sen no Rikyu and Oribe Furuta, boosting its popularity.

The tea bowls and tools used for tea ceremonies at the time were Mino ware, and many of the most iconic styles of Mino ware, such as Haishino, Shino, Oribe, Kizeto, and Setoburo were born during this period.

1603, the beginning of the Edo Period, was when Mino ware artists started making everyday tools and utensils such as bowls, plates, and sake bottles. White porcelain and items similar to China’s celadon porcelain started to be produced in this time as well.

From 1868 onwards, potters were able to give color to Mino ware using imported coloring pigments. New techniques for painting Mino ware such as transfer printing and screen printing were born, and production grew in scope.

The culmination of all this progress resulted in Mino ware being designated as a traditional japanese craft in 1978. Today, Mino ware is the most produced type of pottery in Japan, accounting for over 60% of all traditional Japanese tableware.

The Characteristics of Mino Ware

One of the most unique features of Mino ware is just how many varieties there are. The term “Mino ware” refers to not just one style of ceramics, but rather 15 different types, all of which are designated a traditional Japanese craft.

The most representative style is Oribe, made following the aesthetic sense of Oribe Furuta, a disciple of the tea ceremony master Sen no Rikyu. It made an appearance during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (16-17th centuries), showcasing innovation yet unseen at the time, and was novel for its distorted appearance and dark green geometrical design.

While Mino ware is widely appreciated all over the world for decoration purposes, it also gives a rustic beauty when used to serve food, and many famous chefs love to use it.

Another style of Mino ware born in the same period, Shino, was a revolutionary kind of pottery as it marked the first time that potters tried adding designs to the pottery before adding the overall glaze for color. Shino is characterized by tinges of fiery red color that appear over a milky white base, as well as its tiny bubble-like holes formed via adding glaze called “Chosekiyuu” to bring color to the piece. When combined, these two features give the pottery a beautiful natural appearance. Depending on the temperature used to fire it, the piece can take on different colors, including dark brown, red, or slate. Apart from tea ware and tools, Shino ware is popular as vases, pots, sake bottles, large sake cups, and incense holders.

Kizeto, another style of Mino ware that’s fired after being painted with an iron-based glaze, has a subtle and simple appearance and is known for its warm yellow color. Its dark green design is painted using a copper-based glaze. Kizeto ware can appear in many forms, including tea ceremony tools and ware, plates, pots, bowls, and vases.

Mino Ware Today

The cities of Tajimi, Toki, and Mizunami in Gifu Prefecture protect the culture surrounding Mino ware today. However, even though Gifu is Japan’s largest ceramics producing area today, there are several problems facing the craft. Not only is there a lack of craftsmen to carry on the work, but they are running out of clay due to over 1,000 years of pottery production.

The great features of Mino ware are the innovativeness and freedom of expression it grants. Many potters over the years have developed the craft in the most groundbreaking ways.

In the present day, there are several young potters specializing in Mino ware who have even created a group in order to spread the love for the craft in ways never tried before, by doing things such as holding workshops with demonstrations using the potter’s wheel.

The local Tono Shinkin Bank Ltd. has also been supporting these potters’ efforts by working together with different kilns and the Mino Ware Branding Council, as well as planning and holding the Minoyakisai (Mino Ware Festival) every mid-October around Tajimi Station*.

These collaborations with local organizations and young Mino ware artists are spreading the word about Mino ware in a way that we can more easily relate to.

*The Minoyakisai will not take place in 2020 due to the coronavirus.

Related article: ▶ Traditional Japanese Crafts: The Vivid, Changing Colors of Mino Ware Glasses

Imari-Arita Ware

The History of Imari-Arita Ware

The first porcelain to be made in Imari City and Arita Village was crafted in the beginning of the 17th century. These towns are located in west Saga, a prefecture in Kyushu's southwest. Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the shogun (military dictator) who first unified Japan, dispatched Japanese troops to the Korean peninsula towards the end of the 16th century, who then brought back Korean craftsmen. These craftsmen found a high-quality ceramic material called “Ryumongan” at Izumiyama (pictured above) in Arita, and proceeded to create Imari-Arita ware from this natural resource.

During the 17th century, at the beginning of the Edo Period (1603 - 1868), Jingdezhen porcelain (pictured above), which was actively imported from China, was commonplace. However, due to a civil war that occurred in imperial China in 1644, the amount of exports sharply decreased. Attention was turned to the domestic Imari-Arita ware, and production increased exponentially. As a result, the type of porcelain that was used in Japan subsequently was mostly Imari-Akita ware.

Later, the Edo shogunate (the government body at the time) implemented the “sakoku” closed country policy. However, special trading exceptions were made for China and the Netherlands, and Imari-Arita ware began to be exported by ship. Doing this along with implementing Chinese porcelain-making techniques continued to increase the quality of Japanese porcelain.

One technique that improved considerably was the “iroe,” or overglaze enamel paintings. The famous “Kakiemon” type of painting that decorates Arita ware came about in the 1660s. During that time, European countries did not have a technique to create white porcelain, and highly favored porcelain with Kakiemon. In the 18th century, many areas across Europe started making porcelain that imitated the Kakiemon design, such as Meissen porcelain.

Imari ware and Arita ware continued to be exported to Europe for around 100 years until 1757, but after that, it began to change to better fit Japanese people’s tastes. Towards the end of the Edo Period, from the 18th to 19th centuries, food stalls and restaurants became quite active, and as the food culture among civilians flourished, Imari and Arita ware became indispensable in the Edo lifestyle.

The reason the name “Imari ware” is popular outside of Japan is because porcelain that was made in Arita was shipped out through Imari Port, so they were not distinguished as a separate type of porcelain and instead collectively called Imari ware.

The Characteristics of Imari-Arita Ware

The surface of Imari-Arita ware is such a clear white that Europeans aristocrats even nicknamed it “white gold.” After “gosu” (indigo pigment) is drawn onto the surface, vibrant overglaze enamels are drawn on in beautiful reds, greens, yellows, purples, and blues.

Imari-Arita ware is also light, hard, and durable. This is due to it being shaped from special clay made from pottery stone, glazed with yuyaku, and then fired at the extremely high temperature of 1,300°C for over seventeen hours.

Types of Imari-Arita Ware

Imari-Arita ware can be categorized into three main groups.

The first is “Ko-Imari-Yoshiki,” or “Old-Type Imari.” This type was made during the Edo Period. Dazzling decorations made of red and gold were laid atop the blue and white porcelain, creating vibrant pieces of art.

The second is the “Kakiemon” type. It uses a milky white for its base, and the designs drawn atop are in the Kakiemon style. Sakaida Kakiemon, the inventor of this technique, used red, yellow, green, and blue colors to delicately portray motifs such as Japanese flowers and birds. The highly beloved Kakiemon type of Japanese porcelain is a great representation of traditional Japanese aesthetics.

The third is the “Nabeshima” type. This porcelain was not meant for the common people to use, but was instead sold directly to the Nabeshima clan and was made as offering to many different daimyo (Japanese feudal lords). The porcelain is characterized by its bluish-white background with orderly and precisely drawn patterns. There are many dignified, luxuriously made Nabeshima pieces that are deservingly called pieces of art.

Imari-Arita Ware Today

2016 marked the 400-year anniversary since the inception of Imari ware and Arita ware. Pieces from the Edo Period are still being restored today, and modern artisans and creators are collaborating to create and test new designs. There are even businesses working on developing the world’s strongest porcelain for Imari-Akita ware!

Nowadays, Imari-Arita ware is not just beloved in Japan, but overseas as well, especially in Europe. The paintings decorating the clear white porcelain have varying beauties depending on the era and the artist, and in recent years, refined designs made with techniques such as openwork have garnered attention as well.

Imari-Arita ware decorates museums and palaces all over the world, and is even prized so highly in Japan that it is given as gifts by the Imperial household. The techniques that have been passed down may be old, but the designs have changed in recent times to fit modern aesthetics and lifestyles.

This innovation has increased even more so in recent years, with many in-house porcelain artisans working to create pieces that people can use in their daily lives today.

Every spring and autumn, 1.2 million people gather at the “Aritatoukiichi (*1)” (Arita Ware Market), where many pieces are displayed. Those who are unable to attend the event are able to make purchases through the event’s website, where customers are able to shop online (*2) and find many new pieces.

*1) Spring 2020 cancelled due to COVID-19
*2) Online shopping only available for a certain amount of time (April 29 - May 5, 2020; autumn TBD)

Satsuma Ware

The History of Satsuma Ware

Satsuma ware (Satsuma-yaki) is a form of pottery that originated from a place called Satsuma, in what is now Kagoshima Prefecture in the southern part of the island of Kyushu. It is believed to have been created around the year 1598. At that time, the commander of the Satsuma Domain, Shimazu Yoshihiro (whose statue is pictured below), on returning from a military campaign in Korea, brought a group of skilled potters back to Japan with him. Although the potters numbered only a few dozen, the craft spread to various parts of the region.

Taking advantage of the blessings of their natural surroundings, the potters soon developed their own styles of Satsuma ware. Various schools or styles of pottery now exist under the umbrella of “Satsuma ware,” including the “Katano style,” “Ryumonji style,” “Naeshirogawa style,”  “Nishimochida style,” and “Hirasa style.” Each style is based in a different region and features a distinct appearance. It is this variety within the world of Satsuma ware that makes it so interesting.

Interestingly, Satsuma ware first became known to the rest of the world quite a while ago. In 1867, the International Exposition was held in Paris, where Satsuma ware was featured in its own exhibition. This was the moment that the name “Satsuma” took flight in Europe. It seems that many people were captivated by the charm of the pottery, even though it was on display so far from its native country. 

The Characteristics of Satsuma Ware

Satsuma ware can be divided into two broad categories: “Shiro Satsuma” and “Kuro Satsuma.” In the world of ceramics, the surface of the ceramic work is often covered with a glaze known as “yuyaku” that, when fired, takes on a glass-like sheen. These two categories of Satsuma ware differ in the type of glaze used.

Shiro Satsuma (pictured above) is typically made with clear, colorless or pale yellow glaze. Another common characteristic is the fine cracks that appear on the surface, called “kannyu.” Shiro Satsuma is also sometimes referred to as “Shiromon.” The term “Noble Shiromon” (Koki-na-Shiromon) is a testament to the historical value of the pottery, as it was formerly the property of only the nobility and was unavailable to the general public. The pottery often features extravagant, colorful designs and is recognized overseas as its own art form.

On the other hand, Kuro Satsuma, or “Kuromon” is most commonly treated with a colored glaze. In contrast to Shiromon, this kind of pottery was called “The People’s Kuromon” (Shomin-no-Kuromon) and was loved and used by the masses. Kuromon is used to make a variety of common tableware, among which the “kurojoga” tea pot stands out in particular. This earthenware vessel (shown on the left side of the picture above) is used for heating shochu (a kind of Japanese distilled spirit). By delving into the details of various wares, it’s possible to glimpse into history and imagine scenes from an older time, such as common Japanese people enjoying a hot drink as a part of their daily lives.

Satsuma Ware Today

With a rich history of more than 400 years, Satsuma ware continues to live on, with a number of Satsuma ware workshops still existing today. The styles that have been passed down vary, but include several of the aforementioned schools, including the oft-gifted Katano style, Kuromon-specializing Ryumonji style, and the elaborately gold-painted Naeshirogawa style. All are made using different techniques and are worth exploring.

One workshop to focus your attention on is the famous pottery workshop Chin Jukan Kiln, located in the Miyama region of Kagoshima Prefecture. It has continued the legacy of Naeshirogawa pottery from the time when Satsuma ware was created to the present day. Although the techniques used to create this type of pottery have advanced over the years and the workshop does utilize modern technology such as electric kilns, it also continues the tradition of firing some pieces in old-fashioned “Noborigama” kilns (pictured above). As of 2020, the thirteenth generation of potters continues the legacy of the Chin Jukan founders. The intricate, hand-crafted line carvings decorating some of their pieces are particularly stunning.

Kyo Ware/Kiyomizu Ware

The History of Kyo Ware/Kiyomizu Ware

The current form of Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware (“Kyo-yaki/Kiyomizu-yaki”) emerged between the Momoyama Period (16-17th centuries) to the beginning of the Edo Period (1603-1868). A merchant in Kyoto invited artisans from all over the country to create tea ceremony utensils and tea cups. These items eventually became gifts for nobles and feudal lords.

Around 1635, kilns were constructed in various parts of Kyoto to produce Kyo ware, Awataguchi ware (Awataguchi-yaki), Yasaka ware (Yasaka-yaki), and Mizoro ware (Mizoro-yaki). It was around this time when the art of Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware became established. Ninsei Nonomura and Kenzan Ogata are two individuals who enhanced the artistic qualities of Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware.

Ninsei, known as one of the best Kyo ware potters, had an excellent technique for drawing patterns on vessels. A lot of the Kyo ware vessels that are currently designated as national treasures or important cultural properties have been made using techniques created by Ninsei. These wares were gifted to the Tokugawa shogunate during the Edo Period, and continue to be highly regarded today. 

Alongside Ninsei was Kenzan Ogata (1663-1743), a skillful Kyo ware artisan. He gained popularity for his innovative technique of adding bold drawings and characters, which was unprecedented in Kyo ware.
Following Ninsei and Kenzan, other master artisans of Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware emerged, including Rokubei Kiyomizu I (1738-1799), who established a kiln in Gojozaka, Kyoto in 1771; Dohachi Takahashi I; and Ensei Okuda (1753-1812).

Located before the gates of Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Gojozaka in Kyoto—where a kiln was established by Rokubei Kiyomizu I—became a thriving area. Pottery produced in this area soon became souvenirs for worshipers and gained popularity among the public.

When the Meiji Era began in 1868 and the capital moved from Kyoto to Tokyo, Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware kilns closed one after another. However, Kyo ware artisans sought to survive by exporting porcelain that had gorgeous golden drawings to Europe and the United States, where Japonisme (the influence of Japanese art, culture, and aesthetics in the West) was gaining popularity.

While mass production by machines began across the country after the 20th century, distinguished artisans moved to Kyoto, where they continued to produce tea utensils and other items that required a high degree of skill.

After the Pacific War, Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware underwent further developments by Rokubei Kiyomizu VI and Yaichi Kusube. Many potters trained under these two masters, and they provided the foundation for the Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware that we see today.

The Characteristics of Kyo Ware/Kiyomizu Ware

Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware are works of art that illustrate the scenery of the four seasons in Kyoto or feature drawings that bring good luck.
A lot of the vessels are made by using the technique wherein the clay is baked once before being painted. They are known for beautifully showcasing the individuality of each artist. On the other hand, there are artisans who specialize in copying the designs of master creators from the Edo Period, such as Kenzan and Ninsei.

As Kyoto was the capital of Japan for a long time, many Kyo wares/Kiyomizu wares were presented to tea masters, military leaders’ families, imperial families, and samurai families. Therefore, it can be said that Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware hold a sense of luxury and are highly decorative, which are two characteristics that cannot be seen in other ceramics.
In addition, as skillful artisans from all over the country gathered in Kyoto, the characteristics of various ceramics are mixed together in Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware. That said, one unique characteristic is that most of the production process is done by hand, and that none of the works are mass produced.

Therefore, each product is very unique and rare. Oftentimes, if you miss an opportunity, you will never be able to find the same product again. This is another reason why Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware is so popular.

Kyo Ware/Kiyomizu Ware Today

Today, Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware is in danger of disappearing as the number of artisans and kilns are declining due to plummeting sales. To combat this, Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware artisans, chambers of commerce, and designers have been seriously exploring future possibilities to keep the craft going.
These efforts have led to Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware being actively employed at hotels and other facilities that are being built rapidly in response to the increasing number of foreign tourists.

When attempting to expand overseas, Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware was highly praised for not being mass-produced. To develop this characteristic further, and by collaborating with architectural designers, recently, new products such as Kyo ware/Kiyomizu ware lighting equipment and wash basins have been produced.

Hasami Ware

The History of Hasami Ware

Hasami ware (known in Japan as Hasami-Yaki) is pottery that developed in northwestern Kyushu around the town of Hasami in Higashisonogi, Nagasaki Prefecture.

Its history goes back more than 400 years to the Imjin War (the Japanese invasion of Korea) which lasted from 1592 to 1598. The feudal lord of Hasami Village (the present-day town of Hasami), Yoshiaki Omura, participated in that war and upon his return, brought a Korean potter with him back to Japan. This potter then taught the locals the art of Korean pottery, and Omura constructed multi-chamber climbing kilns (where a series of connected kiln chambers are built on a slope, one on top of the other) in Hatanohara, Furusaraya, and Yamanita, marking the beginning of Hasami ware. 

At first, they produced glazed earthenware made from clay, but later turned to porcelain after porcelain stone deposits were discovered in Hasami. In 1630, all of the local production switched completely from earthenware to porcelain, which came in two varieties: “sometsuke,” a white porcelain base painted with patterns which are then covered with transparent glaze and fired, and “aoji” (celadon porcelain), porcelain coated with a green-colored glaze.

In the mid-17th century, a civil war stopped China from exporting their porcelain abroad. That’s when the world turned their attention to Japan, and Hasami ware exports began to climb. Soon, the porcelain became famous around the world. However, 1690 marked the end of China’s civil war and a return to pottery exports, which caused a dip in the sale of Hasami products, prompting makers to again turn their attention to the domestic market. In 1655, Omura’s domain set up the Sarayama public office to manage the production of Hasami porcelain and help make it the region’s specialty product. As a result, in the late Edo Period (1781 – 1867), the domain became the biggest producer of sometsuke porcelain in all of Japan.

With the development of railway lines in the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912), it became commonplace to transport products via trains. Hasami took advantage of that, using the Arita shipping station to deliver their products to every corner of the country. Soon, people started referring to porcelain from the Hasami and Arita regions (another famous porcelain-producing region) collectively as “Arita ware” (“Arita-Yaki” in Japanese). However, around the year 2000, Japan struggled with an influx of counterfeit goods, necessitating stricter authentication measures regarding a product’s place of production. Since then, all pottery from Hasami has been required to be identified as “Hasami ware.”

Some of the most famous examples of historical Hasami ware include the kurawanka bowl and the konpura bottle (pictured above). The origin of the name “kurawanka” goes back to the Edo Period, when merchants in boats would approach ships on the Yodo River and try to sell them food and alcohol by asking “Mochi kurawanka? Sake kurawanka?” meaning “Won’t you buy some mochi (rice cake)? Won’t you buy some sake?” in the local dialect. At the time, porcelain was considered a luxury product, but the kurawanka bowls were mass produced, so they were quite affordable and thus beloved by commoners.

Konpura bottles are Hasami ceramics produced from around the end of the Edo Period. They were mainly used to preserve alcohol and soy sauce meant for exports. Initially, those products were transported in wooden casks, but due to spending a long time at sea, the cask-stored soy sauce started to lose its taste, so Hasami craftsmen created a special bottle that would help keep it fresh.

Characteristics of Hasami Ware

Most types of pottery tend to have specific characteristics depending on where they are produced, but not Hasami ware. It’s even said that the characteristic of Hasami ware is that it has no specific characteristics. Indeed, the ceramics produced in Hasami have never been held back by tradition or production method and instead have continued to change and update through the years. This has made it a favorite of the common folk for over 400 years. From old-timey patterns and simple designs to wares featuring more American or northern European motifs, there is a Hasami dish out there for anyone.

By employing a system of specialization, where each craftsman handles just one part of the production process, high-quality Hasami ware is able to be produced at a large scale. The whole process is broken into four stages: the “kataya” handles the production of plaster molds, the “kijiya” creates the porcelain clay, the “kamamoto” fires the porcelain, and the “uwaeya” creates and applies designs to the fired pieces. It was this division of labor, with a specialist handling each individual step in the process, that enabled Hasami ware to be produced in high quantities while guaranteeing an equally high quality. Even today, these wares are very popular in Japan, making up 16% of all domestic tableware dishes. 

In 1978, Hasami ware was designated as a Traditional Japanese Craft by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Hasami Ware Today

In 2010, Maruhiro, a Hasami ware assembling wholesaler, announced a new brand called “HASAMI” and instantly helped bring the porcelain back into the spotlight. Their mugs with never-before-seen modern pop designs became a hit all over Japan, being sold everywhere from general to apparel stores and attracting plenty of young buyers. This led to an increase in sales of Hasami ware and a revitalization of the areas that produce them. As a result, the annual Hasami Pottery Festival* attracted around 300,000 people, and that number has been growing every year since then.

People used to think of Hasami wares as luxury items but now they’ve become known as sturdy, everyday dishes sold at affordable prices. It’s why so many people love them. Because it isn’t limited to any one design or production method, Hasami ware can change with the times and fit the lifestyles of people in any time period. Currently it has become quite popular among young people and women.

* The 2020 festival was canceled. The 2021 festival is planned for late April (unconfirmed as of yet).


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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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