What is Japanese Antique Pottery

Japanese antique pottery dates back thousands and thousands of years to the Joman culture, from about 10,000 BC to about 300 BC. Earthenware was the pottery of choice during those times. Through contacts with other cultures, conquests over other countries and periods of isolation, Japanese pottery alternately was influenced by outsiders and developed nuances all of its own.

Antique Japanese Pottery
The tea ceremony was one of the most important occasions in Japanese life. The rituals of the tea ceremony developed over time. By the early Edo Period (1603 -1867), the tea ceremony had grown greatly in importance, resulting in more production of pottery.

In the early 1600s, someone, perhaps Korean potter Lie Sanpei, discovered kaolin, the clay used to make porcelain, in northern Kyushu. Korean potters had been in Japan since the late 1590s. Porcelain pottery gave new strength to the Japanese pottery industry.

Another event during this time had an impact not only on pottery, but Japan as a whole. By 1639, the Japanese government had severely restricted the movements of foreigners, particularly Christians. Many foreign nationals had to leave the country. Japan restricted trade to only the Dutch and the Chinese. This trade could only occur at the port of Nagasaki. This isolation would last about 200 years.

During the time of isolation, Japan produced magnificent pottery and porcelain. Imari-arita emerged at the end of the 16th century and was, and is, highly prized. In the early 19th century, Kutani, a revival of Kokutani, which had not been produced after the end of the 17th century, swept the country. Traditional styles are still produced today.

World War II was a disaster for Japan. After the war was over, the Allies limited the number of industries that could be reopened to prevent Japan from rearming. One of the industries that did reemerge was the ceramic industry. Today, objects marked "Made in Occupied Japan" are very collectible.

Arty ceramics also survived the war. Artists and craftsmen such as Kitaoji Rosanjin (1883-1959) and Mineo Okabe (1919-1990) fired stunning art pottery that will be enjoyed for generations to come.

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