Explore Arita City
WHAT IS ARITA WARE?
Arita ware is beautiful, porcelain products manufactured in Arita, Japan. Arita is a small town located in the northwestern area of Kyūshū Island, which was formerly known as the Hizen Province. That’s why you might know Arita Ware by another name - Hizen Ware, or even by a third, internationally recognized name - Imari Ware, which we’ll talk more about later.
Arita ware is a porcelain art form to be admired. For over four centuries, this fine decorative ware has won countless admirers, including royal and noble families from around the world. It was originally characterized by its thin translucent white finish and an overglaze that featured blue as the base color. This has evolved throughout the years into colorful, vibrantly painted artwork.
In this article, we will guide you through Japan’s fascinating pottery culture. We will discuss the rich history of Arita ware, from its humble origins to its worldwide recognition, the general manufacturing process of Arita porcelain, and its main uses over the years.
History of Arita Ware
Arita Ware’s history begins around the start of the 17th century when the people of Arita discovered a special white stone. This stone was the first raw porcelain material. Arita Ware’s origin is often associated with Yi Sam-Pyeong, a Korean potter who many consider the father of this craft.
Soon after the discovery, the first type of Arita porcelain products emerged in Japan. Somewhere around the latter half of the 17th century, the Arita ware craze took the world by storm. These luxurious products were in high demand all across Western Europe and the United Kingdom.
Arita isn’t close to the sea, so to meet the international demand, traders had to find another way to ship their product overseas. Luckily for them, the nearby port town of Imari provided an excellent solution to the problem. Arita Ware products were shipped around the world from Imari. This is why people who aren’t native to Japan recognize the Arita Ware by another name - Imari Ware.
Over its long history, Arita porcelain has developed a rich variety of styles, mostly influenced by the period and the artist behind it. Arita ware usually combines a general blue and white color style, but a famous ceramic artist named Kakiemon improvised a new style known as Akae - loosely translated as red painting. His technique features a colorful overglaze method that profusely uses red coloring.
Other styles that feature bright colors like red, yellow, and green hail from the Old Kutani style. Some techniques were even bolder, making use of gold plating. The richest and most prestigious of all Arita Ware styles was the Nabeshima style, which was strictly made in government-owned kilns.
The Process of Manufacturing
From generation to generation, the manufacturing of Arita ware has been dependant on teamwork. Dedicated artisans, masters, and apprentices all play a role in creating these magnificent porcelain products.
Here at Koransha, we strive to preserve this 400-year-old tradition. When it comes to colors, design, and aesthetics, our creativity and innovation help us to stand out from other manufacturers. At Koransha, we aspire to perfect the craft of Arita Ware manufacturing in every way, shape, and form.
The manufacturing process starts with the potters creating a vessel form out of clay. At Koransha, our process now includes computer-controlled systems that manufacture these vessels. Our unique combination of traditional craftsmanship and modern technology separates us from other Arita ware manufacturers.
The forming method differs depending on the vessel’s size and shape, with gypsum mold being convenient for the big ones. In order to prevent breakage, the dried vessels are fired at a relatively low temperature of 900˚C.
After that, a painter draws the design on tracing paper and then copies it onto the porcelain vessel. Next, an outline is drawn based on the same draft, and the artisans use numerous vibrant colors to trace the same outline. Fine, yet dynamic lines characterize this style. It’s a technique that the artisans have passed on for generations.
The next step is coloring, here the artist adds touches of paint to make the outline. The subtle shading produces that three-dimensional effect you see on Arita porcelain. The vividness of the colors comes alive when the vessel is removed from the fired-up kiln.
The unfinished ware is then dipped in a glaze, coating the whole surface with the vitreous liquid. This process gives Arita Ware the glossy look while making it stain-resistant and waterproof at the same time.
Finally, the Arita ware is ready to be fired. The process requires a high temperature of 1300˚C. After removing the vessels from the furnace, the artists perform an overglazing technique, decorating the porcelain with red, green, yellow colors, or gold. One final firing is done at a lower temperature of 700 ˚C to make the colors more durable. Now, we have a finished Arita ware product on our hands.
The Main Uses of Arita Ware
Over The Years
Arita wares have been useful items like bottle vases, mugs, bowls, pots, and saki flasks since the 1630s. After Arita ware’s introduction to Europe in the 17th century, it became an overnight sensation. The beauty of this porcelain intoxicated European royalties and nobles. The Arita ware products were admired greatly, some people even referred to it as “white gold.” Eventually, collecting Arita porcelain became like a hobby for the nobles, not to mention another way to flaunt their authority and wealth.
Today, these products are still associated with wealth and tradition. You will find fine Arita porcelain used at some of the most luxurious restaurants in the world.
On our website, you will find a range of unique Arita Ware products. Shop for decorative urns, bowls, cups, and vases, decorated in the prestigious Koransha style. Own one of these luxurious Arita ware products, today!