Japanese Porcelain In Home Decorating – Before the early 17th century, all the porcelain used in Japan was imported from China, but the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate in Japan wanted to he free of the Chinese merchants and, during raids carried out on Korea, captured their native potters.They brought them back to Japan and settled them inland at Arita, which became the main area of production after 1616 when the correct type of clay was found locally.
Between the collapse of the Chinese Ming dynasty in 1644 and the establishment of the Ch’ing dynasty in 1682, many of the imperial kilns were destroyed. The main traders in Chinese wares, the Dutch, turned to Japan to replace the vast quantities of porcelain that arrived in Europe by the shipload.
By the time the Chinese had re-established their porcelain industry, the Japanese had begun to retreat into a long period of self-imposed isolation. Between the late 17th century and about 1860, only small quantities of wares were exported from Japan by Westerners who managed to retain a small trading post in Nagasaki in the south. After the reopening of trade in the 1860s, the West was flooded with lmari, Kutani and Satsuma wares and the fashion for Japanese goods took off under the banner of the Aesthetic movement.
Kakiemon vase, late 17th century – The milky white body of this vase, its matt surface and slightly greasy looking sheen, are typical of Kakiemon wares. This piece is typically restrained, using a palette of turqouise, iron red, gray, blue and yellow enamels painted on the glaze.
Collectors are spoilt for choice because of the sheer volume of porcelain exported to Europe and the United States from the mid-19th century until the outbreak of the Second World War. Many of the pieces are still very affordable: if you hunt carefully you could find a 19th-century Imari vase and cover of middling size in good condition for under £100. If you become a committed collector the sky’s the limit: from a Nabeshima dish for £10,000 to a rare Kakiemon bowl for £40,000.
Imari plate, 18th century – flowering plant design in underglaze blue and overglaze enamel
Japanese Satsuma porcelain vase with peacock
Kutani porcelain tea set