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Masters of Arita Yaki - Part 2

Updated: Mar 29, 2022


KORANSHA

Koransha was one of the very first companies to begin porcelain production in Arita.

Founded in 1689 by Matashiro Fukagawa, it was originally called Eizaemon Fukagawa and potteries. The current structure of Koransha was established in 1879, under the name of “Koran General Partnership Company”. The company developed Japan’s first porcelain insulator, which made a significant contribution to the process of modernization, as it was used in the construction of the telegraph line between Tokyo and Yokohama.

The Koransha style fuses the the three styles of "Koimari," "Nabeshima," and "Kakiemon" into a traditional and yet innovative brand, high exponent of the beauty of Arita porcelain.




FUKAGAWA SEIJI

The company was founded by Fukagawa Chūji, second son of Fukagawa Eizaemon, founder of the above mentioned Kōransha. Chūji initially worked for Kōransha but left it in 1894 to found his own company, today's “Fukagawa Seiji”. The new brand started to attract international attention at the Paris World’s Fair in 1900, where Fukagawa Chūji exhibited a large vase and was awarded the Grand Prize. Next, he established offices in Birmingham, Paris, Milan and began to export directly in Europe. Last but not least, Fukagawa Seiji has served as a purveyor to the Imperial Household Ministry since 1910. The brand is distinguished by three expedients:

  1. The dough making process: high-quality pottery stone derived from the Amakusa region of Kumamoto prefecture is crushed into small pieces using a hammer or a mill, then kneaded while draining the water so that the clay is formed.

  2. The self-prepared paints and paintings: the paints come in about 600 different colors, most of which are Fukagawa originals prepared in-house. The clear blue color unique to Fukagawa Seiji is extracted from minerals such as cobalt.

  3. The high firing temperature of 1350°: about 50 to 100 ° C higher than the firing temperature of general porcelain.

The result is a transparent white porcelain with a bright, vivid blue called “Fukagawa Blue”. The innovation is also in the designs, realized in the styles of: - Koimari (vivid colours, mainly red and gold); - Kakiemon (vivid colours but scarcely applied to emphasize the white of the porcelain); - Iro Nabeshima (delicate blue patterns overglazed with red, yellow and green designs). This originality earned the name of "Fukagawa style", a style that goes beyond cultural boundaries and manages to fascinate people all over the world, proving the founder’s philosophy according to which "If you master the essence, you will surely reach the world": a belief still deeply rooted in the hearts of the craftsmen that are Fukagawa Seiji.




TSUJI SEIJISHA

Until the Meiji era, Tsuji Seijisha was a “forbidden” kiln, as they were the first in Arita who (exclusively) produced supplies for the Imperial Family. Today, the company still holds the honors of acting as the purveyor to the imperial household, but its products are distributed also publicly. As a proof of the long history of Tsuji Seikosha, a Tombai wall veteran of the Edo period is still built around the kiln: it is a wall built by stacking materials used in kiln firing, disposable kiln tools, and porcelain pieces coated with red clay: its function was to protect the family’s unique techniques from curious eyes.

Tsuji Seijisha is renowned for its original "Kyokushin-yaki", a firing method invented in 1811 in which products are placed in a saggar made of common soil and then sealed and baked. Because of the saggar, the penetration and diffusion of the gas inside is completely blocked, so that the final product boasts a smooth lustrous surface and a deep, shiny blue color. And it is precisely the intense blue unique to the kiln that fascinates the public, as the family commits to pursue true, unparalleled beauty. Another fundamental precept at Tsuji Seijisha is the rejection of haste: “We do not pursue speed at work, it is important to do "a good job”. The family devotes their time and energy to the manufacture of products that reflect the culture and philosophy of the company in every detail, ceramics that recall the past while continuing to push forward towards the future.



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