feature ⑤ division of labor system of industrial kutani

The production and sale of kutani, which became full-scale in the Meiji period, were supported by a division of labor system in which the kiln for white body or blue and white, the painting factory, and pottery merchants cooperated, and industrial kutani actively responded to domestic and aboard demand. In particular, kutani of “Shoza style”, which was the core of export kutani, or Kanazawa Kutani, which was splendid and delicate, were called “Japan Kutani” and were exported in large quantities to the Western countries. Japan’s major export industry was also supported by this division of labor during first half of the Meiji period.

It is said that Kutani Shoza founded this division of labor. He opened a painting factory in Terai village, Nomi county, and specialized in painting on the body purchased from the Ono kiln (where he trained there) without having a body kiln. After that, the number of body kilns that could supply a large amount of high-quality body increased, and while a large number of craftsmen with a little artistic taste gathered at the factory and his disciples grew up to assist Shoza. Then kuani with Shoza’s painting style was mass-produced under the supervision of Shoza. This production method under division of labor spread to other villages in Nomi (for example, Sano kutani) and supported the production of kutani in the Nomi area. In addition, many pottery merchants appeared in Noumi, and the sales channels were expanded by opening branches in Kobe, Yokohama, etc., so it can be said that a division of labor system also supported export kutani.

This division of labor system of industrial kutani spread to Kanazawa, and the pottery merchants who had big funds and captured the tastes of the Western countries not only sold, but also purchased good quality materials and asked excellent painters to create their works and exported them. Kutani produced in Kanazawa (called Kanazawa kutani) by these pottery merchants became popular in the Western countries, gradually surpassed Nomi Kutani, and eventually became the center of export kutani.

However, when exports declined in the 30’s of the Meiji period, the industrial kutani added the type and style of painting for the domestic market (mainly daily necessities) and again revived. Speaking of industry Kutani in general, though reducing the scale of industrial kutani, it has been divided into artistic products for mania and domestic daily necessities for the general public.