This email is not displayed correctly?
Published on : 26 December 2018
This title seems at first rather awkward, how ceramics produced in Yokohama could be considered as Kutani which are produced on the other side of the Island of Honshu. Well the story began early Meiji, Kutani producers were getting stronger, the demand was high, especially for export thanks to the success of the different Universal Exhibitions. London in 1862 had the first attendance of a Japanese official delegation, but no official exhibits. Some Japanese pieces were presented from the personal collection of R. Alcock first British Ambassador to Japan and this created a general interest in the west for the art of Japan.
Then came Paris in 1867, Vienna in 1873, Philadelphia in 1876, again Paris in 1878 and so on. This is the period of ‘’Japonisme’’ in Europe and US. It is consequently the peak period of production for Kutani and his gorgeous Meiji style.
It was Meiji period and the opening of Japan, it was also the end of financial support made by the feudal clans, in fact a kind of privatization of activities. Many ex samurais who had lost their job saw this opportunity to make business and established companies, shops and kilns. But Kutani is far from everywhere! At this period the only port available for export was Kobe, and to transport painted ceramics all the way was a hard and long task.
The first one who moved was Watano Genuemon (綿野 源右衛門). He was a merchant and had a shop in Terai. He had started his Kutani business in 1860 and in 1876 he opened a branch office in Kobe, the Watano Shoten (綿野商店) - Shoten means Shop. I believe that pieces signed Watano (綿埜製) belong to this period.
Tokyo city was growing fast, so was Tokyo port which is in fact in Yokohama. In 1880 Watano Kichiji decided to moved his shop from Kobe to Yokohama in order to reach more easily Tokyo market and also expand his export business as Yokohama was getting more important than Kobe. Incidentally we can find some Kutani which are marked made in Kobe! Not so many and looks like only one producer did so.
This is what happened for the most famous export merchant but many other did the same and opened either branch offices or painting studios in Yokohama. Motomachi was the central street and it seems that everybody had a shop there.
To name a few others amongst the most famous classified by opening date:
1875 - Matsubara Kanshiro (松原 勘四郎) opened the Shokan Shoten (松勘商店) in Kutani in 1865. He started export business from the beginning of Meiji and tried mainly to sale Kutani ceramics to foreign company which had been established in Yokohama. In 1875 he established a branch office in Yokohama (closed 1945).
1876 - Matsuishiya (松石屋) This company belongs to Imura Toki Kaisha and was exporting ceramic from different area from Japan (Seto, Imari, Kutani.. (closed 1912).
He used this yago sign as trade mark with a double mountain over Matsu in Kanji.
1883 - Watatani Heibei (綿谷平兵衛) with Iwata (岩田以定) and other potters opened in Yokohama in 1883 the Ishikawaken Bussan Kyodoten (石川県物産共同店) - Shop for Ishikawa Prefecture products cooperation. This company was aimed at exporting Kutani production from the Ishikawa prefecture.
1885 - Watano Yasutaro started the Watano Yasutaro Shoten (綿野 安太郎) in Yokohama in 1885. Pieces are signed Watayasu (綿 安).
1896 - Taniguchi Kinyodo Shoten (谷口金陽堂商店) (1875 – 1954). TaniguchKichijiro had painters and kilns in Kutani. He opened branch office in Kobe in 1896. He succeeded to export directly to Europe and US by sending representative overseas. We can find many pieces signed Taniguchi exported some with a very high quality.
Unfortunately this activity did not last too long. In 1923 the big Kanto earthquake devastated Tokyo and Yokohama destroying all pottery in stock and making almost a stop to all Kutani activities. Most of the painters and decorators were out of job and scattered all over Japan. Then came the big depression in 1929, then soon the war. Kutani activity practically ceased.
All photos shown here are courtesy of their owner and can be found, for the Kutani site members, in the data base for more detailed information.
|You have received this message as member of The Kutani Ceramic Website|