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Development of Japanese Pottery


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Outside Timeline

Outside Reference

Outside Glossary
Jomon, Yayoi





Before 300 B.C.


Jomon pottery, made using coils or slabs, and fired in outdoor bonfires/ditches; characterized by chord-marked pottery; hunting and gathering lifestyle; see photos from Nigata Pref. Musuem; or learn more by clicking here.

300 B.C.
to 300 A.D.


Introduction of iron/bronze; development of coil-built pottery known as Yayoi (see photos from Kyoto National Museum); use of finer alluvial clays to produce thinner-walled shapes; techniques may have come from Korea or China; rice cultivation; Eastern Han and Three Kingdoms Period in China

300 A.D.
to 710 A.D.

(552 to 645 AD)

or Yamato

(Asuka Period)

Introduction of anagama (sloping tunnel kiln) from Korea; introduction of the potter's wheel; introduction from Korea of Sueki ware (see below); introduction from Korea of three-color ware (green, brown, white); introduction of Buddhism 552 A.D.; Sui and Tang Dynastys in China

710 A.D.
to 794 A.D.

or Tenpyo

Nara Sansai style (three-color glaze); Japanese fully start using glaze to decorate their wares with colors; flowering of Buddhism

794 A.D.
to 1192 A.D.


Major period of creativity; introduction of Tokoname (9th century); spread of China's celadon and green glaze (ryokuyuto) to Japan during China's Sung Dynasty (960-1270); introduction of Bizen; Shiki-style pottery introduced (see below); Korea's Korai jawan style (slip inlay, or zogan) appears (see Mishima); green glaze and ash glaze become more popular than three-color glaze; Sanage ware (green glaze) becomes widespread 

1192 A.D.
to 1333 A.D.


Introduction of Shigaraki style and Seto style; further development of Bizen; new Buddhist sects introduced, including Zen and Lotus Sutra sect of Nichiren; Yuan Dynasty China; Magna Carta signed in England

The Sueki Tradition (or Sue Tradition), from the 5th to 12th centuries, plays a major role in the styles and aesthetics of Japanese pottery up to this point. Sueki ware was typically gray and vitreous. It was introduced to Japan from Korean in the middle of the 5th century. Sueki was fired to yellow heat, between 1100 - 1200 degrees centigrade, in a reduction atmosphere, and generally made on the wheel. The Bizen, Shigaraki, and Tamba styles (all from western Japan, each considered to be one of Japan's six old potting centers) stem from the Sueki Tradition. For more, please see Shiho Kanzaki's review.

The Hajiki and Shiki Traditions
Two other major traditional influences on Japanese pottery up to this point were the Hajiki and Shiki traditions. Hajiki-style pottery began in the Kofun period (around 300 A.D.). Hajiki was typically reddish bisque ware fired at lower temperatures (from 600 to 800 centigrade). Shiki-style pottery is the oldest glazed bisque ware in Japan, often using a three-color lead glaze (sansai-enyu), and fired at around 800 centigrade. Again, see Shiho Kanzaki's web site.

1333 - 1573



North/South Courts
Warring States

Seto ware reaches its golden age in early 14th century; Bizen enters golden age in late Muromachi Period; Mishima-style chawan first mentioned in Japanese records; Japanese tea ceremony becomes major conduit of cultural taste, and together with Zen, causes great interest in Bizen, Tanba, Shigaraki and Echizen tea ware; Columbus discovers America


Azuchi Periods

Golden Age of Bizen pottery continues; introduction of Hagi style; tea utensils become more popular; introduction of Iga; introduction of Karatsu, Takatori, Agano, and Satsuma wares; start of Mino Ware (Shino, Oribe, Ki-Seto, Setoguro)

1603 - 1867

(1688 - 1703)


(Genroku period)

Introduction of porcelain with Imari, Ko-Kutani, Nabeshima, Kutani, and Sometsuke); start of Kyo-yaki style by Ninsei and Kenzan; nobirigama kilns and porcelain kilns largely replace the anagama (see Kilns); popularity of Mino and Bizen wares declines

1868 to 1912


Japan undergoes industrialization

1912 to 1926


World War I; representative potters include Kusube Yaichi (1897-1984), Kawai Kanjiro (1890-1966) and Hamada Shoji (1894-1978)

1926 to 1988


World War II; start of Mingei Movement in 1926 (folk craft movement); start of Sodeisha Movement in 1948 and its focus on sculptural forms, led by Yagi Kazuo (1918-1979) and Suzuki Osamu (1926-); revival of anagama kilns starting in the 1960s; representive potters of Showa Era include Itaya Hazan (1872-1963), Tomimoto Kenkichi (1886-1963), Kanashige Toyo (1896-1967), Arakwa Toyozo (1894-1985), and Kato Tokuro (1898-1985)

1989 to Present


Current Period


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