Modern Kutani

Only during a short period, at the beginning of the century, Kutani ceramics have been exported to Europe. Therefore Kutani ceramics are barely known overseas. It means that it was and remains a really typical Japanese ceramic.Today the production is mainly concentrated around Terai. Kutani village, in Terai is very representative of the local success of this pottery. Kanazawa and more specially Yamashiro areas are very famous for the ’Onsen’ or hot thermal sources, and all year around quantity of tourists are coming to visit the area and of course will buy souvenirs. The main roads from Kanazawa to Daishoji or Yamashiro are full of Kutani souvenir shops or kilns which are selling pottery. We can even found easily in these shops pottery made by famous modern potters. The whole area is living partially on Kutani business and more than 700 potters are today operating in the areas.

If we look at today pottery style, one can find almost every imaginable colors and designs from ultra modern to exact replica of old Kutani. A good example of modern Kutani style can be seen in Terai in the Asakura Isokichi museum where pottery of uncommon shape, size and colors can be found. Of course some other famous potters have also experimented, I can not say to improve, but to give an other direction or volume to their art. This is also the case for Kitade Fujio.

On the other hand there are still many potters who try to continue in the original Kutani style, and succeed very well in completing beautiful pieces in some case using slightly different colors than the 5 original Kutani colors, Mitsui Tamekichi the 3rd has very well succeeded in giving a touch of modern style but in keeping the original feeling one can have in looking or touching a beautiful piece. Nakamura Tochito excels in using modern colors such as brown, white.. with original or at least in keeping the essence of the original Kutani.

One other technic which has developed recently is to paint on flat square or rectangular plates or tiles used mainly for decoration. Asakura Isokichi has made in such a way a complete wall of several 10th of square meters in a famous Onsen in Yamashiro area. This is also the case today in the new Kanazawa Shinkansen station where a selection of modern painters are showing their technique and art on the wals of the station.

However may be the most "advanced" painter was certainly Tokuda Yasokichi 3rd (LNT) which has developed a completely different method where the colors are so bright and shining that there is no more comparison nor relation with the traditional 5 colors Kutani produced up to date.

A different style using bright colors and gold is Yoshida MInori also a LNT and a very popular but also very expensive painter.

Finally there is still a small number of potters who continue a very particular style of Kutani, I want to talk about ’red detail paint’ or in Japanese Akae saimitsubyo, their are painstakingly pursuing and maintaining the old style and there is almost no way to distinguish a modern copy from an old original one, except that may be their are too beautiful, too regular or too perfect, the small irregularities or defects found on old pieces are therefore not there. But their are not so common as the time required to complete a piece is so long that their price is quite prohibitive and out of the range of most of the collectors. An exceptional artist is today Fukushima Buzan who has reached perfection in Akae style.