d7ad1e09d5Introduction of pottery Zen priests are linked with two very characteristic elements of Japanese culture: the exquisite simplicity of Japanese ceramics; and the polite formalities of the Tea Ceremony for which much of the pottery is designed. In 1223 a Zen monk takes a Japanese potter, Kato Shirozaemon, to China to study the manufacture of ceramics. This is a period, in the Song dynasty, when the Chinese potters have achieved a perfection of simplicity. The Japanese, in the same vein, will evolve their own styles to rival this perfection. The Japanese potter, returning home, establishes himself at Seto. This rapidly becomes a center for the manufacture of pottery, with as many as 200 kilns in the dtrict. Seto has retained ever since the status of the classical pottery region of Japan. Much of the early Seto output is temmoku – stoneware cups and bowls with a black or iron-brown glaze, in direct imitation of the contemporary Chinese style. This becomes much in demand with the increasing popularity in the samurai class of the Tea Ceremony, in which a mood of rustic simplicity is required.

Introduction of porcelain In the early 17th century potters succeeded in firing the first soft paste porcelain after the discovery of suitable raw materials in Arita. Within just 30 years, the production of blue-white porcelain was flourishing. Between 1643-1647, Sakaida Kaiemon developed the technique of polychrome over glaze enamel for porcelain. This porcelain with polychrome painting was appearing in various styles, such as ko-imari, with its sumptuous brocade style. In accordance with the changing wishes of the aristocracy to have an elaborately equipped tea ceremony, as well as the requirements of the urban elites for high-quality domestic wares, an innovation followed in Kyoto in the mid 17 century in the form of overglaze-decorated stoneware by Nonomura Ninsei and Ogata Kenzan. With their decorative styles, both artists and their pupils influenced the development of ceramics far beyond the bounds of Kyoto. Many potters from provinces were sent by their feudal loads or by rich merchants to be trained in Kyoto, or the Kyoto masters were invited to the provinces