At the end of the 16th century, the feudal lord of the Omura clan accompanied Toyotomi Hideyoshi on one of his campaigns to the Korean Peninsular. On his return he brought back some Korean potters with him and they began making pottery in Hasami. By the beginning of the 17th century porcelain was being made and besides such things as cups and plates, various kinds of containers such as sake flasks were also being produced. Of all that was being made, the heavily over-glazed teacups met with particular favor among those on the boats around the piers of Osaka.
While mention is made of Sekishu in the Engishiki, a Heian period (794-1185) document on court protocol, a more direct reference to paper is made in the Kamisuki Chohoki, a "A Manual of Papermaking" published in 1798. It says that when a Kakinomotono Hitomaro went to take up the post of protector in the province of Iwami (Shimane prefecture), he taught the people there how to make paper. Sekishu paper has been made unceasingly for about 1,300 years. In the early days it was made by farmers in their spare time but gradually became a specialized job of work and today, paper is still being made using the same skills and techniques as of old.
Pieces representing the beginnings of Tokoname ware were made at the end of the Heian period (794-1185) and it is now counted among Japan's six old kilns. During the Heian period, Kyozuka urns were made in which to put Buddhist sutras before burial in the ground as a way of asking favors of the Buddha. During the Muromachi period (1392-1573), the pottery produced mainly tea bowls and other tea ceremony items as well as ikebana flower vases. Jars appeared in the middle of the Edo period (1600-1868) and normal household tableware started to be produced at the end of the Edo period alongside the prized tea ceremony pieces. Sanitary items such as drain-pipes, wash-hand basin and toilets, tiles and plant pots were added to the list of products in the Meiji period (1868-1912). Undoubtedly the vast range of products available today is the result of being a production center with plentiful supplies of good quality clay to hand, and because of the area's ability to change its line of main products in step with demand down through history.
The origins of Iwayado chests date back to the end of the 18th century, when the custodian of Iwayado castle had his retainers look into the commercial possibilities of such pieces of wooden furniture as chests with lids and others riding on palettes fitted with wheels. Corresponding to present-day Esashi City, Iwayado had a long tradition of metal casting and wood craft because it was the stronghold of Kiyohira. He was a first generation Oshu Fujiwara who established the Hiraizumi culture at the end of the Heian period (794-1185) but lived in Iwayado for thirty years before moving to Hiraizumi.
Echizen ware ranks among Japan's six old kilns and therefore has a history dating back many centuries. First fired toward the end of the Heian period (794-1185), upward of 200 old kilns sites have been discovered in the area to date. It was in these massive old kilns that all manner of everyday articles such as pots, jars, mortars, flasks, and jars in which to keep a black tooth dye fashionable at the time were fired.
A 9th-century document confirms that the history of Awa paper goes back some 1,300 years to times when a family known as Inbe serving the Imperial court, was growing flax and paper mulberry and producing cloth and paper. Ever since then, the paper-making techniques of Awa paper have been handed down from one generation to the next in an act of reverent deification of Ame no Hiwashi no Mikoto, the originator of paper-making traditions within the Inbe family.
Kagawa lacquer ware started at the end of the Edo period (1600-1868), by Tamakaji Zokoku, a famous lacquerer with the development of new techniques that came into being by combining traditional Japanese techniques with skills such as kinma and zonsei which had been brought to Japan from Thailand and China. These locally developed techniques have been handed down over the years and many of these characteristic pieces, which are referred to collectively as Kagawa lacquer ware, are being produced around Takamatsu. It is undoubtedly the country's top lacquer ware producer in terms of variety, producing everything from tables to display shelves to trays, coasters and candy bowls.
At the beginning of the 17th century, the Owari clan controlled the area centered on present-day Nagoya. It was then that the Kosakai family--one of the families of retainers--was recognized as clan dyer by the Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and the making of clan flags and banners at this time led to the establishment of this craft. The dyeing of a black cloth with reversed-out family crests for clan members and others began at the end of the Edo period (1600-1868). In the middle of the 19th century, dyeing in the area became very much more organized and a union was formed.
It is said that the origins of Edo cut glass date back to 1834 when a Kagaya Kyubei, who was working in a small glass works in Edo (Tokyo), copied a piece of English cut glass. It also seems that Commodore Matthew Perry, who arrived in Japan toward the end of the Edo Period (1600-1868), was very surprised when he was presented with a splendid piece of Kagaya's cut glass. Subsequently various Western methods of cutting and sculpting glass were introduced during the late 19th and early 20th centuries under instruction from experts from England. In fact, many of the fine glass cutting techniques introduced at that time are still in use to this day.
Elements of tubs dating from the 15th and 16th centuries have been discovered at the former site of Akita castle. Records dating from the beginning of the 17th century kept by one of the old families of the Akita clan, make it clear that tubs were being used at a sake maker within the present-day district of Ogatsu-cho. There are also 19th century examples of different types of barrels and tubs preserved by the Aoyagi family of another district, Kakunodate-cho. They have a coating of lacquer and both copper and bamboo bands were used, and the shapes are the ones which are followed today.
Although disputed, it seems likely that Karatsu ware was being made in this area even before the 1592 campaigns to Korea. The name is abbreviated from a ware made in the area of Matsuura where there were a number of kilns producing Taku kokaratsu, Hirado kokaratsu, and Takeo kokaratsu. It was, however, the ware from the Matsuura kokaratsu kiln that finally gave its name to this particular style of pottery.
Although this craft dates back to before the Heian period (794-1185), the making of pottery began in earnest when the capital of Heian-kyo (now Kyoto) was founded in 794. Since that time Kyoto has been the home to many famous potters and the birthplace of many fine pieces of work. Famous potters such as Ninsei and Kenzan were at work in the 17th century and then in the 19th century, the potter Eisen successfully fired porcelain, while such masters as Mokubei, Hozen and Ninami were remarkably active during the same century. Great advances were then made from toward the end of the 19th century with the introduction of various techniques from around the world, when German ceramists were invited to come to Kyoto.