The Kutani areas


Ishikawa Prefecture is divided into three zones which reflect the districts or "Gun" where the kilns were located. These three areas have developed differently and we can almost say had a separate history. At end of Edo, beginning of Meiji it was frequent to call Kutani ceramics by the name of the district where they had been manufactured. But with the coming of the Meiji restoration these names slowly became forgotten or unused.

Enuma Kutani

This is may be the most famous of all Kutani areas, where the first Kutani ceramics have been produced in Suizaka and Ko-Kutani kilns. Enuma Gun was in Daishoji Han, and the different Lords from the Maeda family have promoted a lot the development of Kutani. This area includes what is today Kaga city, Yamanaka and Yamashiro villages.

The most famous of all the kilns is of course Yoshidaya-gama which restored the old Kutani style and in some sense restarted the ceramic industry in Kaga area. Miyamoto-gama which took over Yoshidaya-gama was also the first to succeed in a very fine and detailed minute red painting very characteristic of this style and which became very popular. Then Eiraku Zengoro, a Kyoto painter brought colors and style which had a big influence on development of Kutani wares. Matsuyama gama is well known as the ’good’ kiln which production was devoted at the beginning for the sole usage of the Han.

So we can easily recognize that Enuma Kutani has been the center of the development of Kutani. Almost all new styles have started from there and at end of Edo, Enuma Kutani was synonym of quality, style and may be class. However from end of Edo, the number of kilns has decreased and the production of painted pottery reduced quite a lot compared to the other areas which on the opposite were on the development side.

List of main kilns included in Enuma Kutani:

  • Ko-Kutani
  • Yoshidaya-gama
  • Miyamoto-gama
  • Kutanihon-gama
  • Kisaki-gama
  • Matsuyama-gama

Nomi Kutani

Nomi Kutani is also quite famous as it includes many well known kilns such as Wakasugi-gama, Ono-gama, Rendaiji-gama, Shoza-gama and Sano-gama. These kilns started also very early, for example, Wakasugi opened in 1811, that is to say almost 15 years before Yoshidaya. Nomi Gun had a high concentration of kilns compared to Enuma Gun and also these kilns generally speaking had a longer life time. As most of these kilns were concentrated around Komatsu and Terai villages, this place has became a big production center of Kutani ceramics.

Since early Meiji up to now, half of the total production of Ishikawa Prefecture is produced not only in Nomi Gun but in this small area located around these two villages. Today we can find in Terai what is called Kutani village, an huge area devoted only to Kutani, with museums, production and research centers, tourist information and many shops. A paradise for Kutani lovers.

List of main kilns included in Nomi Kutani:

  • Wakasugi-gama
  • Ono-gama
  • Rendaiji-gama
  • Aoya-gama,
  • Shoza-gama
  • Sanno-gama

Kaga Kutani

Kaga district covers the north part of the prefecture with Kanazawa as the main city. Kaga Kutani is also different. Kutani production started very early, in 1806 with the Kasugayama kiln. This is the first kiln to operate after the closure of ko-Kutani 80 years ago. This kiln became later Minsan kiln when Takeda Minsan reopened it under this name. But in 1844 he died and the kiln was closed down.

Then the production of pottery itself almost stopped. After a long empty period, the restoration of Kutani in Kanazawa from Meiji was mainly limited to paint work. Many painters were living there and were painting white pottery produced in other areas. As a result many nishiki kilns were opened very often in private houses operated by only one painter.

This is the case for example of the ex Samurai Abe Suikai who built in 1869 in his own house in Kojimachi a nishiki kiln. It is some time called Abe-gama. Uchiumi Yoshizo who was Abe-gama Chief worker had a lot of students, and enlarged the sales in and out of Kanazawa.

At the beginning Kaga Kutani was made in Hachiro Akae-tsuke style, but soon after the opening of Japan, the painters started around 1881 to use western paint material, and draw motifs such as persons, flowers and birds, mountain and water, they started also at that period under western influence to use gold paint.

The style and the technic was improved using a method with motifs in over thickness covered with gold paint. At the end of 19 century they started using a bokashi or flu technic with Turpentine oil and draw motifs such as snow, flower and moon, crane, Fuji mountain, fish...

Ishino Ryuzan and Tomada Yasukiyo were quite famous painters from this period.Tomada Yasukiyo established in 18xx Tomada-gumi which was a well known company which manufactured paint for pottery. This company still exist.

Ishino began a painting similar to underglaze painting for overglaze painting and got a good reputation. Kanazawa had a whole production size similar to Enuma, however mainly painted job was made in Kanazawa, at the beginning of Meiji which was may be the peak of the production more than xxx nishiki kilns were in operation.

List of main kilns included in Kaga Kutani:

  • Kasugayama-gama
  • Minsan-gama
  • Abbe-gama