Kyo Ware, Kyoto Ware, or Kyo-yaki.
High-fired ceramics and porcelain wares produced in Kyoto. The style originated in the 17th century and is associated with the work of two men in particular -- Ninsei Nonomura and his student, Kenzan Ogata (see photo at right; photo courtesy Suntory Museum of Art).
Kyoto wares are typically painted with overglaze enamel pigments, a technique that appeared in both Arita and Kyoto around 1640, and one that is still a hallmark of Kyoto ware today. But unlike Arita ware, which was made by anonymous artisans and mostly exported abroad, Kyoto ware was made for the domestic market, and its artisans typically signed their work, which was often stoneware made in the tea-ceremony style.
Kyoto at the time of Ninsei and Kenzan was a flourishing hub of crafts and culture. Although the capital had moved to Edo (Tokyo) in 1600, Kyoto was still the cultural axis of the nation and the home to a thriving and highly skilled craft industry. Kyoto itself had been Japan's capital for 800 years.
Nonomura Ninsei, Ogata Kenzan, and Aoki Mokubei (1767-1833) are known as "The Three Great Masters" of Kyo-yaki. According to Masahiko Sato (in his book "Kyoto Ceramics"), the two basic features of Kyo-yaki are "the technique of covering one area of a piece solidly and thickly with a monochrome glaze, most often green or deep blue," and "the low-relief effect of many overglaze designs."
Ninsei Style (named after Ninsei Nonomura). One of Kyoto's greatest potters, Ninsei Nonomura (1574-1666) was born in Tamba (one of Japan's earliest pottery centers). Not much is known about him until he moves late in life to Kyoto -- sometime in the 1640s. In Kyoto he established the Omuro Kiln, and maintained close ties with Sowa Kawamori (1585-1656), a renowned tea master of that age, and one who believed that Ninsei's ceramics embodied the concept of kirei-sabi (refined beauty). For much more on Ninsei, click here.. Photo courtesy of Suntory Museum of Art.
Kenzan Style (named after Kenzan Ogata). Kenzan Ogata (1663-1743) was a student of Ninsei, and like Ninsei, he signed his own work. He was also renowned as a painter, poet, and calligrapher. Kenzan's elegant brushwork was often featured on his ceramics, and his style incorporated images from literature, painting and other crafts. Photo courtesy of the Asia Society.