1. About Kutani Ware
Kutani ware was first produced in 1655 (365 years ago) by Toshiharu, the second son of Maeda Toshitsune, the third lord of the Kaga domain (the largest feudal domain in Japan, known as Kaga Omote-ku Hyakumangoku), who had a kiln 34 meters long built in Kutani Village, about 20 kilometers from here in Yamashiro. The kiln was built in 1655.
Originally, the Maeda family of Kaga Hyakumangoku was interested in colored porcelain as they had been seeking various kinds of colored porcelain such as "Manryaku Akae" made in Jingdezhen, China. In addition, the wife of Toshiharu, the lord of the Daishyoji domain, was the granddaughter of the lord of the Saga Nabeshima domain, and Arita porcelain was often presented as a gift to the Maeda family, which had a very close relationship with Hizen (Arita and the Nabeshima family), the advanced area of colored porcelain.
In the village of Kutani, where the clan's gold mine is located, it was discovered that pottery stones could be obtained, and a kiln was built here to transmit the Hizen style. The Kutani ware produced at this kiln was produced in two styles: Iro-e (painted in five colors: red, blue, yellow, green, and purple) and Ao-te (painted in three or four colors other than red). The shapes and designs varied, but the paintings were massive and gorgeous, typical of the Maeda clan. The tradition that porcelain was first produced in 1655 and discontinued around 1705, about 50 years later, is consistent with scientific measurements. (Pottery that is thought to have been made during this period is referred to as "old Kutani.)
In 1806, the Kaga clan purchased 360,000 to 370,000 pieces of pottery from Kyoto and Hizen, so in order to prevent the clan's money from flowing out, the clan invited Aoki Kime, a master craftsman from Kyoto, to open the Kasugayama kiln, but Kime returned to Tokyo after only two years.
In 1811, the Wakasugi Kiln in Komatsu succeeded in its plan to increase production of pottery and porcelain by producing a large number of Imari-style pieces, many of which were dyed. The Ono and Minzang kilns also produced red paintings, but they did not intend to produce anything in the Old Kutani style.
In 1824, when he was 72 years old, Toyoda Denemon, an official of the Daishoji clan, invested a large sum of money to rebuild a kiln adjacent to the old Kutani kiln in the mountains in order to revive Kutani ware. However, it was inconvenient for him to stay in Kutani Village, so he moved his kiln here to Yamashiro about a year later. The Yoshidaya kiln, which he started with the hope of reviving old Kutani, inherited the techniques of blue handed old Kutani and created his own light and transparent style, which is considered to be the most highly regarded among the revived Kutani.
In 1832, Miyamoto-ya, who took over the Yoshidaya kiln, completed the fine red-painting process with painter Iidaya Hachiroemon. Although there have been many changes, the kiln built by Yoshidaya continued to be used until the Showa period (1926-1989), and is now on display as the "Kiln Site Exhibition Hall" with a variety of works for everyone to see. Recently, the Kutani Kiln Site in Kutani Village and the Kiln Site Exhibition Hall here in Yamashiro were designated as "National Historic Sites".
1914 (Taisho 3)
The Teramae family had been a merchant family in front of the Senkoji Temple in Yamashiro, Kaga City, since the Meiji era (1868-1912), producing and selling miso and soy sauce. Tamekichi I began painting and selling Kutani ware after receiving a supply of white cloth from his uncle Uyomon Kitade's kiln (from which potters Tojiro Kitade and Fujio Kitade were born).
1934 (Showa 9)
Exhibited his work at the Chicago World's Fair. Eiichi, the adopted son-in-law of Tamekichi I, opened a branch of Seizando in the Hyakkendana district of Shibuya, Tokyo. After the Great Kanto Earthquake, the Hyakkendana store disappears, and Eiichi begins operating Seizando in Yamashiro.
1945 (Showa 20)
The Teramae family's eldest son, Tamekazu, and his younger brother, Eiichi, founded Kutani Bitoen Co. Soon after, Tameichi, a graduate of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, became an independent artist.
1955 (Showa 30)
Eiichi took over Kutani Bitoen. At the request of his customers, he actively produced old Chinese blue and white ceramics, copies of old Japanese works, and Daishoji Imari. His careful and sincere work was recognized, and he was asked by Sazo Idemitsu, the owner of the Idemitsu Museum of Art and founder of Idemitsu, to make a copy of Yoshidaya for a company souvenir.
1955 to 1965 (Showa 30 to 1965)
There was a large demand for hand-ground fabric, which was sought after exclusively by artists. Eiichi was honored by the Minister of International Trade and Industry as a "Person of Merit in the Traditional Craft Industry. Eiichi remained in good health until the age of 93, and built an additional workshop with living quarters to employ the disabled. In 1973, he was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure, the current Order of the Sacred Treasure, and later received the Kaga City Cultural Merit Award in 1979.
1987 (Showa 62)
Hideo's eldest son, Hideo (who had worked in heavy industry in Tokyo), succeeded him as president of the Kaga City Kutani Ware Association. Hideo (Eio) rebuilt the showroom, moved the kiln, and introduced modern management, while his wife Mitsuko designed vessels that emphasized the importance of enjoying everyday life based on tradition.
1989 (Heisei 1)
When His Imperial Highness the Crown Prince (Emperor Imaizumi) visited Yamashiro Onsen, he personally purchased one of the Kutani ware on display at Shiraginya Ryokan.
The Maeda family, the former feudal lords of Kaga, presented us with gifts for their children's wedding three times. We received three orders for wedding gifts for children from the Maeda family, former lords of the Kaga domain, as well as an order for a commemorative gift (bonbonniere) for the mother.
Former West German Chancellor Weizsäcker took time to visit our showroom, and he and his wife bought a lot of Kutani ware.
The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology stopped by our showroom on his visit to Kaga City and chose some souvenirs for European countries.
2013 (Heisei 25)
Due to Hideo's death, his wife Mitsuko took over the business, and in 2015, his son Shinya took early retirement from his job in Tokyo to support the company in a new direction.
January 2019 (Heisei 31)
Nobuya, the eldest son, assumes the position of Representative Director and the name of Teramae Eisyo