Traditional Crafts of Tokyo 東京の伝統工芸品Traditional Crafts of Tokyo 東京の伝統工芸品

Imari Arita Yaki

Imari Arita Yaki Photo

The origins of Imari Arita Yaki date back to the end of the 16th century when the Saga clan, which had been involved in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's campaigns in Korea, brought back the potter, Li Sanpei who discovered porcelain stone at Mount Arita Izumi, in northern Kyushu. The porcelain that was subsequently made there was the first to be produced anywhere in Japan and was originally called Imari Yaki, simply because it was shipped through the port of Imari. There are a number of different qualities ranging from a simple blue and white ware to pieces over-glazed with brilliant colors. Out of the number of styles including Koimari, Kakiemon, Kinrande and Nabesima, it was the beauty of the Koimari and Kakiemon porcelains which really appealed to people in Europe. In fact, during the Edo period (1600-1868), large quantities of Imari Arita Yaki was exported through the trading facilities retained exclusively by the Dutch in Japan. Today as in the past, many fine pieces of Japanese and Western tableware are being produced along side some decorative items. Inevitably, however, it is the brilliance of the enamels and the beautiful white surfaces as well as its practicality, which continue to characterize Japan's most famous porcelain.