about KINZAN

Kinzangama Kiln is a pottery located in Takando, Komatsu City in Ishikawa prefecture and specializes in over glazed paintings of Kutani-yaki (Kutani ware). The Kiln has continued since 1906 when the founder potter YOSHITA Shosaku started making ceramics here.

In the 17th century, Kutani-yaki was developed as purveyor ceramics to Kaga Lord and it is characterized by the delicate and refined paintings such as multicolored over glazed paintings iroe and Kinrande. They have been exported widely since Meiji period, being called ‘Japan Kutani’. Its technique and beautiful forms have been highly appreciated all over the world.

Kinzangama Kiln has inherited various techniques of Kutani-yaki so far and has used them in creating works. Among the traditional techniques of Kutani-yaki, the Kiln especially excels in kinsai , glaze painting with gold. The founder was proficient in multicolored Kinrande and since then the Kiln has been characterized by paintings with gold glaze for generations. Minori, the third generation of the Kiln, had improved the technique of ‘Yuri-kinsai’ and was designated as a holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure). Now I, as the fourth generation, have tried to explore a new expression of colored Kinrande which is suitable to the times, inheriting the traditional techniques.

The world of beauty special to Kutani-yaki, delicate and dense – it features excessive and detailed patterns and pictures drawn. These techniques have been supported by craftspeople’s patience and it proofs that they have been training and making efforts to achieve their higher goal in the Hokuriku region which is snowbound for a long time during winter.

I have edited this book with my wish to express the beauty of colors and the beauty of gold, which Kutani-yaki has been producing. In the process of making this book, I have noticed the attractiveness and possibilities of Kutani-yaki again by looking back over past works.

history of Kinzangama Kiln

The root of Yoshita Shosaku (1888-1948), founder of Kinzangama Kiln, originally goes back to Kosaka Isoemon (1833-1900) who was a pioneer of Kutani paintings in Takando-machi.

Isoemon learned from Saida Isaburo (1796-1868) at Sano Kiln and established his own kiln in 1859. Invited by Kutani Shoza who built a kiln in Terai, Isaburo worked with Shoza for several years as a painter and potter. His master Isaburo was from Wakasugi Kiln which produced many painters and potters. He accomplished a technique to fire overglaze paintings twice and contributed greatly to the development of overglaze red enamels and Kirande.

Ishiura Isaburo (birthdate unknown – 1897) and his disciple Tanaka Hideaki (1870-1951) in Araya (present Araya-machi, Komatsu city) were genealogically related to Isaburo and Isoemon, and Tanaka Hideaki (later he called himself Reizandou) was a master of Shosaku.

In Meiji era, Kutani-yaki got flourished as an industry and became a Japan’s premier export ceramics finally in 1887. In Nomi region, a factory for division of labor was built so that they could produce on a large scale for exports. There they promoted division of making potteries and applying paintings. It was just around this prosperous period of Kutani-yaki when Tanaka Hideaki built his own kiln. Hiring many disciples and workers, he started to engage in the field of paintings.

In 1900, Shosaku became a disciple of Hideaki and began to learn making pottery. After several years’ practice, he moved to Kanazawa and learned a gold decoration technique. Then in 1906 he opened his studio in Takando-machi.

Shosaku was skilled at handling with gold and good at landscape or nishiki-e (wood block color prints) style paintings with gold decoration. He also worked on hanazume technique that a pattern of auspicious flowers were painted in every direction, outlined in gold. A unique technique to draw classical poetry with micro calligraphy on ceramics called saiji was also popular at that time and skillful craftsmen emerged like Oda Seizan (1874-1960) and Tamura Kinsei (1896-1987). Shosaku also produced many works of painting figures on ‘hundred poets, one poem’ written with saiji technique by other craftsmen. Coincidentally the Great Kanto Earthquake occurred and trading companies of Kutani-yaki in Yokohama were hard hit. It was no choice to shift for domestic demands. This, however, resulted in an improvement of painting techniques and led to a prosperity of Takando paintings (applying various gold decoration techniques to fine and delicate paintings like nishiki-e ).

Shosaku had no successor and his youngest brother Seiichi (1905-1941) became a second generation of Kinzangama Kiln around 1933. Seiichi was good at fine and minute paintings of natural motifs such as peonies and peacocks with gold decoration. During the war time gold was only delivered in a rationing system. So he produced works of aode-Kutani under the instruction of Ishikawa prefectural Crafts Education Center established in 1936. He also produced many new works with improved design of Kutani and awarded at various Crafts and Art Exhibitions.

When Minori took over the Kiln as a third generation after early death of Seiichi in 1941, the recovery in the post-war period was progressing. He studied design around 1960’ s when the crafts movement became prosperous. He also exhibited modern style works with gold decoration. Around 1970’s, he established Asahi Kiln with local potters and engaged in developing design of new products (see p.55).

Attracted by Yuri-kinsai works by Living National Treasure Kato Hajime (1900-1968) in 1972, Minori began to make trial products. He was selected at Japan Traditional Crafts and Art Exhibition for the first time in 1974 and established an original world of Yuri-kinsai with concrete motifs such as flowers and butterflies. In 2001 he was designated as an important intangible cultural asset of Japan.

In 2007, Minori’s eldest son Yukio took over the Kiln as a fourth generation. Yukio produces works with gold applied to pail-painted overglaze enamels of geometric design. Thus Yukio has been also searching for a new expression and possibility of Kinrande technique.

He improved a traditional way of making gold powder called kinkeshi and has been producing fine and high-quality gold materials, drawing by hand with brushes carefully. This technique has been succeeded from generation to generation via various craftsmen since Revival Kutani. The history of Kinzangama Kiln is a process of developing original gold decoration which has been handed down generation after generation, making use of traditional techniques.

Kinzangama Kiln, with about one hundred years of its long history, nurtured and inherited a lot of things. It is not only a traditional technique. The way to make materials and tools, various patterns and molds, and many works which were fired in the Kiln and stored as useful reference such as small sake cups like a flower petal to large jars which might be too large to hold – these are all the Kiln’s inheritances. The next task is to hand in these inheritances to coming one hundred years. Facing this mission, the Kiln has started new attempts.

Developing a new collection ‘Shugu’ is a main attempt among them. Reviewing traditional techniques, the Kiln tries to find ways which are appropriate for modern life now. At the same time, the Kiln would support and nurture staff members. So, the Kiln thought that it is necessary to propose a new collection. Furushou Yoshimasa, who is a designer and takes part in branding of Kinzangama Kiln, and Yoshita Yukio from the Kiln have talked and talked a lot. Finally they decided to produce a new collection of drinking vessels.

Yukio said, ‘Because we use a material gold in producing works of Kinzangama Kiln, there is a limit to be reduced in price. I would like to make something outstanding in taste and delightful to use in a daily life. Considering in this way, I decided to make drinking vessels.’ In the process of producing a new collection, Yoshita Moritaka, who is a younger brother of Yukio and product designer, has joined this project. Thus in the summer of 2013, a new endeavor started in earnest.

history of Kinzangama Kiln
YOSHITA Shosaku established a Kiln in Takando,Komatsu city
Minori was born as the first son of Seiichi,a youngest brother of Shosaku
Seiichi took over the Kiln
Minori took over Kinzangama Kiln and began his career as a potter
Yukio graduated from Kanazawa College of Art,fully joined Kinzangama Kiln, and began creating ceramics
Minori was recognized as intangible cultual asset as a holder of Kutaniyaki techniques by Ishikawa prefecture
Minori received Shijuhosho, or the Purple Ribbon Medal, and was recognized as an important intangible culture asset of Japan.He received the Cultual Order Award from Ishikawa prefecture
Yukio become the delegate of Kinzangama Kiln in place of his father Minori