Japanese Potter & kiln names

One first point to understand is that Japanese painters or potters are using several types of names. Each one has a Family name. But this family name may change in the first part of his life. Adoption was a common practice in the 19 century up to 18 or 20 years old.

Then the artist will select or receive a potter or painter name, called "Go" or 号 in kanji. He may use several Go in his life. We refer here in the database as a Pen name.

Be careful with identical English potter name, Kanji writing might be different and therefore belonging to different persons.

In this database you will find 3 main kinds of name classified in specific tables:

  • Potter (by Family Name & Pen Name)
  • Producers (Kilns, Trading shop & other producers)
  • Calligraphists, (by Family Name & Pen Name)

Note: Blank manufacturers are included in Producers list and are kilns dedicated to produce only blank pots.

If you are looking in the database for a particular name and you do not know where to look for, you should check first in the list marked "Potter by Family Name ", then by "Potter by Pen Name" and finally in the "Producers" list.

If you do not find anything the name is not in the data base.

Some of the painters are also calligraphist, in this case they are listed in the 2 tables (potter and calligraphist).

The list Producers is then separated in 3 different lists:

  • Kilns
  • Trading/Shop/Factory/Merchant/Studio
  • Other producers or not yet classified.

Most of the potters/painters are known under their potter’s name, but family name is also widely used. So, this is one of the known difficulties in identifying painters or potters.

When a marking indicates just a name (example Made by Yamamoto) and I cannot link clearly this to a particular potter, painter, kiln or Trading, the name is added in the kiln and Trading list with mark "Other producers". Once he is identified, he will be transferred to the proper field.

Important remark:

  • We refer here to potters, but in fact 90% are only painters, who buy their blanks to specialized kilns. Very few kilns have been able to produce both blank and enamel over glaze.
  • You may notice that some painters are using the term’’Do’’ - 堂 which generally stands for Trading/shop, but in fact it is only their Pen name. Therefore not easy to make difference between Pen name and a real Trading shop.