Arita – Potter

Inoue Manji

Born in 1929 in Arita. An Arita Ware expert at the pottery wheel, Inoue was a master at white porcelain. In Arita, ornamental techniques exist for dyeing and painting, but that is not the case for white porcelain. It’s known simply for its softness and smooth texture, and expresses a noble, warm and dignified style.

Although his parents’ home was located inn a pottery town, Inoue intended to become a soldier and at 15, he entered naval flight training. In 1945, he was demobilized and at his father’s recommendation, he began working for the 14th Kakiemon Sakaida. After 7 years of tutelage, in 1952, he was affected by the works of Chuuemon Okugawa, a great teacher of the pottery wheel and then became his pupil, and learned about the wheel and white porcelain. In 1958, Inoue left the Kakiemon Kilns, and became a technical officer at the Arita Prefectural Kiln Industry Testing Facility. On the side, he researched the molding of porcelain and glazing, and strove to learn all he could about the methods of traditional white porcelain and individual design.

In 1968, he was first elected into the 15th Japan Traditional Industrial Arts Exhibition. In 1969, Inoue went to the United States at the invitation of Pennsylvania State University as a professor of Arita Ware for 5 months. He also held solo exhibitions overseas in countries like Germany and Hungary, and in March 2002, he participated in the exhibition commemorating the 45th anniversary of the ruler of Monaco’s accession. Inoue covered a lot of ground and built an extremely good reputation overseas.

In 1977, Inoue received the Ministry of International Trade and Industry Prize for National Traditional Handicrafts. On May 31 1995, he was bestowed the honor of Important Intangible Cultural Asset, and in 1997 was given the Medal with Purple Ribbon.

Currently, Inoue, along with his son Yasunori Inoue, have set up a kiln and a bungalow gallery in Arita. Within the vividly-painted world of Arita Ware, they are continuing the unique style of immersing themselves in white porcelain. Their students already numbering at 500 with over 150 of them from America, the Inoues are concentrating on cultivating the next generation.

Imaizumi Imaemon

“Nabeshima” is a pottery which originated from the specially dedicated kilns of the Nabeshima clan in Saga Prefecture, and its distinctive style is called Nabeshima Yoshiki.

The kilns of the Nabeshima clan were established in 1628 in Arita’s Iwatanigawauchi, and in 1675 were moved to Okawachiyama, Imari. In these kilns, clan goods, gifts to be given to important personages, and presentation articles to the Shogunate were fired. 31 of Arita’s public kiln potters of the highest skill were gathered here, and under strict supervision, the well-regulated structure, design, and painting of what was to become Nabeshima were born. From the painting and dyeing, the pattern outlines were taken, and because the three colors of red, yellow and green were used for the blue dye finish to create a certain nobility, the excellent completed works were dubbed Iro Nabeshima or “color Nabeshima”.

The dyes of dami and sumihajiki were characteristic of the pottery, and it could boast of a perfect art. In addition, there was the method of jointly using celadon pottery, known as Nabeshima celadon pottery, and long-esteemed dyeing techniques. Nabeshima, like the Old Imari Style, enjoyed its heyday in the Genroku Era (1688-1704).

In the 1640s, the methods of akae, red printing on ceramics, were brought over from China, and it is thought that starting from this period, the first Imaemon also worked in connection with akae. In the latter half of the 17th century, there were approximately 150 Arita Sarayama kilns, and in the Kanbun Era (1661-1673), the number of akae studios in Arita’s Uchiyama district numbered at 11 (later to grow to 16), and thus an akae town was established under the safeguard of the Nabeshima clan. Imaemon Imaizumi, who was the most technically proficient within this group, became the clan’s official akae instructor. Within the official akae studio of Imaemon’s home, painting and purification were carried out there, the akae kilns were wrapped in drapery printed with the crest of the Nabeshima clan, high lanterns were hoisted, and under the supervision of clan officials, in the akae town, the kilns continued to fire. Also, to prevent the secret formula of akae from leaking out to other clans, inheritance laws were established and the generational passing of the akae secrets was carefully safeguarded.

The 13th Imaemon Imaizumi from a young age strove to make creative Iro Nabeshima from a contemporary angle. He received his name in 1975 and established the Iro Nabeshima Imaemon Technique Preservation Society and became an Important Intangible Cultural Asset. He devoted himself to creating works befitting his style, set up methods of blow dyeing and light blow dyeing, and won an award of excellence for his works at the Traditional Industrial Arts Exhibition, and at the Japan Ceramics Exhibition, he also won the Prince Chichibu Cup, the Mainichi Prize for the Arts, the Japan Ceramics and Porcelain Association Gold Prize, etc, thereby gaining great prestige for himself. In 1988, Imaemon became an Important Intangible Cultural Asset for “Painted Porcelain Goods”.

The current 14th Imaemon Imaizumi gained his name in 2002 and has inherited the generations-long work for Nabeshima as the president of the Iro Nabeshima Imaemon Technique Preservation Society. He has paid attention to the method known as “sumihajiki”, used during the creation of the pattern outline way of dyeing dating from the Edo Era, and is producing new, contemporary, stimulating and highly dignified Nabeshima works known as indigo sumihajiki, charcoal sumihajiki, sozo sumihajiki and snow flower sumihajiki.

Sakaida Kakiemon

At the beginning of the 17th century, Enzai Sakaida, a potter who had been discovered for his superior quality and moved to Arita Town, Saga Prefecture, manufactured ceramics, white porcelain and dyed porcelain goods with his son, Kizaemon.

Soon after in 1647, Kizaemon succeeded in firing Japan’s first examples of akae pottery and acceded to the name, Kakiemon. And then, the first generation of Kakiemon Sakaida established the style of porcelain goods known as Kakiemon Yoshiki. Kakiemon Yoshiki mainly contained the theme of yamato-e-like flower-and-bird design with warm colors and asymmetrical drawings. Also, it had a characteristic of abundant milky-white spaces. Its painting involved colors of red, yellow and green, followed by blue, purple and gold. In addition, around the lip of some of the works, “kuchisabi”, or a rust glaze was commonly seen. Unlike its contemporaries within Arita Ware such as the delicate Nabeshima Yoshiki or Old Imari Yoshiki with its lack of white spaces, Kakiemon Yoshiki had a tender and warm feel.

Kakiemon Yoshiki goods were imported to places like Europe. There, kilns for Germany’s Meissen and France’s Chantille created copies, namely “faux-Kakiemon” in great quantities, and even now, famous kilns around the world have taken over the design aspects. The white porcelain material is called nigoshide because of its soft milky-white color and for the fact that the word nigoshi is Saga Prefecture’s dialectal term for the cloudy white water remaining after washing rice. The usual white porcelain material of Arita Ware has a fairly bluish tinge but in comparison, nigoshide is actually pure white.

In the latter half of the Edo Era, the production of nigoshide was stopped but thanks to the efforts of both the 12th Sakaida Kakiemon (1878-1963) and 13th Sakaida Kakiemon (1906-1982), the restoration of this production was successfully accomplished in 1953. The manufacturing technique of nigoshide was designated as an Intangible Cultural Asset in 1955, and later became an Important Intangible Cultural Asset in 1971. After the death of the 13th Kakiemon, the 14th Sakaida Kakiemon inherited his predecessor’s work which continues to the present day.

The current 14th Sakaida Kakiemon was born in Arita in 1934 and graduated from the Japanese Paintings department of Tama University. In 1982, he acceded to the title of the 14th Sakaida Kakiemon, and in 1984, he won the Japan Ceramics and Porcelain Association Prize. In 1986 and 1992, he also won Honorable Mention at the Japan Traditional Industrial Arts Exhibition. In 1997, he became the president of the Saga Prefecture Ceramics Association and currently serves as the director of the Japan Industrial Arts Association as well as being a full-time lecturer at Kyushu Industrial University Graduate School’s Fine Arts Research Department. He is also the principal of Arita Kiln Industrial School. While preserving the traditions and techniques, the 14th Sakaida Kakiemon is also showing his originality based on the needs of the time.

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