Kutani Ware Porcelain Painting Experience
Kutani ware is a type of porcelain characterized by its intricate designs painted in vivid colors. With no better way to appreciate the artistry than trying it yourself, head to the oldest remaining kutani kiln in Kanazawa for the perfect souvenir to take home.
Originating from the Hokuriku region, it’s hard to miss the ever popular eye-catching hues of kutani ware around Kanazawa. While the style of kutani has morphed over the centuries, it was originally founded as kutani-yaki, as it’s known in Japanese, in the early Edo period in the 17th century. What makes the porcelain so distinctive is the colorful designs which tend to stick to a palette of green, blue, red, yellow and purple. The surroundings of Kanazawa area depicted in the designs of landscapes and nature, said to be painted in bright tones as a means of adding color into the dark, cold winters of the region.
The Kutani Kosen Kiln is found to the west of the Sai river just a short walk from the Tera-machi Temple district and accessed via the Nomachi bus stop. Built in 1870, the kiln has created countless rich and delicate pieces with the process remaining relatively unchanged for the past 150 years. The center that houses the Kutani Kosen Kiln runs a workshop which includes a tour of the potters studio where you can see the pots formed from clay, as long as your tour coincides with the potters’ working hours, followed by a guided painting experience to create your own colorful kutani-style designs.
The production process for making kutani ceramics is a long and thorough one: After shaping the pots they are biscuit fired then glazed before being fired again and are fired a final time after being painted. On the tour of the Kutani Kosen Kiln, you can see the different stages of the firing process and how the material changes in texture and color throughout. Once the white porcelain is complete, it’s time to start painting. There are a number of pots to choose from including bowls, plates, mugs, and sake jugs which are priced according to size starting at 1,300 to 5,400 yen which includes the price of the painting workshop.
The porcelain acquires its deep hues from the final glaze which is to thank for its popularity to this day with kutani ware shops an unavoidable presence up and down the streets of Kanazawa. After seeing the production of the ceramics, you are taken to the workshop room to be guided through the painting of your own, unique kutani design outline. Examples around the room and the knowledgeable instructors are there to for that added inspiration and to provide advice and tips.
As the porcelain must be fired again once the outline has been painted onto the pot, your creations are handed over to the professionals on site who fire and fill the designs with the famous five colors of typical kutani ware to give it an authentic look. This process can take a few days so participants are recommended to return to collect the pieces later or pay an extra fee for shipping either to another part of Japan or overseas.