The origins of Imari Arita Yaki date back to the end of the 16th century when the Saga clan, which had been involved in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's campaigns in Korea, brought back the potter, Li Sanpei who discovered porcelain stone at Mount Arita Izumi, in northern Kyushu. The porcelain that was subsequently made there was the first to be produced anywhere in Japan and was originally called Imari Yaki, simply because it was shipped through the port of Imari.
Although disputed, it seems likely that Karatsu Yaki 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.