Kutani-ware 九谷焼

The first Kutani-ware porcelain is said to date back to 1655, when a kiln opened in Kutani village under the orders of the local feudal lord Maeda Toshiharu.

The old Kutani pieces, known for their bold and dynamic outlines decorated with thick over-glazing by the classical five “gosai” colors epitomize the lavish aesthetics of the day.

It is theorized that the long, harsh and grey winters of the Hokuriku region led to a desire among people living there for ceramic to show strong and bold colors like deep green, yellow ochre, bold blue, vermilion red and purple made for this signature look.

The Kutani kiln suddenly closed less than a century later, for reasons that remain unknown.

About a century after the closure of the Kutani kiln, the Kaga clan launched efforts to revive the lost art, and opened the Kasugayama kiln in the castle town of Kanazawa. Other kilns soon opened across the region, letting rise to new decorative styles of Kutani-ware.

Kanazawa castle the former residence of Kaga domain ruler, Maeda Toshiharu

Then for centuries to follow, many new styles of Kutani-ware have emerged. Here is a collection of some of my favorites. Enjoy.

Kutani Tile

The photograph above is a tiled wall inside the public bath (sento) “Konparu” which was an amazing retreat in Ginza. For more than one-hundred years, it served as an essential place for merchants, employees, and residents alike. It was my favorite place to visit on days with an open schedule, to spend some precious time relaxing in the hot spring waters.

I visited the back street just two weeks ago and found a four-story modern office building had taken its place.

You can imagine the void I felt.